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Career and Education Opportunities for Substance Abuse Specialists in Arlington, Virginia

Substance abuse specialists can find both educational opportunities and jobs in the Arlington, Virginia area. The national trend for substance abuse specialists sees this job pool growing by about 21.0% over the next eight years. In general, substance abuse specialists counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders.

A person working as a substance abuse specialist can expect to earn about $19 per hour or $40,190 annually on average in Virginia and about $17 hourly or $37,030 yearly on average in the U.S. as a whole. Earnings for substance abuse specialists are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Counseling and Therapy in Virginia and not quite as good as general Counseling and Therapy category earnings nationally. Substance abuse specialists work in a variety of jobs, including: adolescent substance abuse program coordinator, behavior therapist, and certified alcohol counselor.

There are eighty-seven schools of higher education in the Arlington area, including five within twenty-five miles of Arlington where you can get a degree to start your career as a substance abuse specialist. Given that the most common education level for substance abuse specialists is a Master's degree, you can expect to spend about six years training to become a substance abuse specialist if you already have a high school diploma, or just 2 years starting with a Bachelor's degree.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Substance Abuse Specialist

Substance Abuse Specialist video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, substance abuse specialists counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders. They also may counsel individuals, families, or groups or engage in prevention programs.

Substance abuse specialists attend training sessions to increase knowledge and skills. They also participate in case conferences and staff meetings. Equally important, substance abuse specialists have to furnish clients or family members with data related to addiction issues and about available services and programs, making appropriate referrals when needed. They are often called upon to counsel clients and patients, individually and in group sessions, to help in overcoming dependencies, adjusting to life, and making changes. They are expected to intervene as an advocate for clients or patients to deal with emergency problems in crisis situations. Finally, substance abuse specialists direct efforts with courts, probation officers, community services and other post-treatment agencies.

Every day, substance abuse specialists are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for substance abuse specialists to act as liaisons between clients and medical staff. They are often called upon to conduct chemical dependency program orientation sessions. They also formulate and implement follow-up and aftercare programs for clients to be discharged from treatment programs. They are sometimes expected to instruct others in program methods and functions. Somewhat less frequently, substance abuse specialists are also expected to participate in case conferences and staff meetings.

and complete and maintain accurate records and reports regarding the patients' histories and progress and other required data. And finally, they sometimes have to direct efforts with courts, probation officers, community services and other post-treatment agencies.

Like many other jobs, substance abuse specialists must have exceptional integrity and have a strong concern for others.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Arlington include:

  • Career Advisor. Counsel individuals and provide group educational and vocational guidance services.
  • Child and Family Services Worker. Provide social services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families and to maximize the family well-being and the academic functioning of children. May assist single parents, arrange adoptions, and find foster homes for abandoned or abused children. In schools, they address such problems as teenage pregnancy, misbehavior, and truancy. May also advise teachers on how to deal with problem children.
  • Health Education Specialist. Promote, maintain, and improve individual and community health by assisting individuals and communities to adopt healthy behaviors. Collect and analyze data to identify community needs prior to planning, implementing, and evaluating programs designed to encourage healthy lifestyles, policies and environments. May also serve as a resource to assist individuals, other professionals, or the community, and may administer fiscal resources for health education programs.
  • Marriage and Family Therapist. Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, whether cognitive, or behavioral, within the context of marriage and family systems. Apply psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques in the delivery of professional services to individuals, couples, and families for the purpose of treating such diagnosed nervous and mental disorders.
  • Mental Health Counselor. Counsel with emphasis on prevention. Work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental health. May help individuals deal with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; suicide; stress management; problems with self-esteem; and issues associated with aging and mental and emotional health.
  • Social Services Assistant. Assist professionals from a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, or social work, to provide client services, as well as support for families. May assist clients in identifying available benefits and social and community services and help clients obtain them. May assist social workers with developing, organizing, and conducting programs to prevent and resolve problems relevant to substance abuse, human relationships, or adult daycare.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Substance Abuse Specialist Training

Northern Virginia Community College - Annandale, VA

Northern Virginia Community College, 4001 Wakefield Chapel Rd, Annandale, VA 22003-3796. Northern Virginia Community College is a large college located in Annandale, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 41,870 students. Northern Virginia Community College has 2 areas of study related to Substance Abuse Specialist. They are:

  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling, one to two year which graduated 1 student in 2008.
  • Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties, less than one year and associate's degree which graduated 225 and one students respectively in 2008.

Columbia Union College - Takoma Park, MD

Columbia Union College, 7600 Flower Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20912. Columbia Union College is a small college located in Takoma Park, Maryland. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 974 students. Columbia Union College has a two to four year program in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling.

College of Southern Maryland - La Plata, MD

College of Southern Maryland, 8730 Mitchell Rd, La Plata, MD 20646-0910. College of Southern Maryland is a medium sized college located in La Plata, Maryland. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 8,240 students. College of Southern Maryland has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated six and thirteen students respectively in 2008.

Gallaudet University - Washington, DC

Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave, NE, Washington, DC 20002-3695. Gallaudet University is a small university located in Washington, District of Columbia. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,389 students and an admission rate of 64%. Gallaudet University has a master's degree program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties.

Marymount University - Arlington, VA

Marymount University, 2807 N Glebe Rd, Arlington, VA 22207-4299. Marymount University is a small university located in Arlington, Virginia. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 3,541 students and an admission rate of 84%. Marymount University has a bachelor's degree program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated one student in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Distance Credentialed counselor: A Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC) will be nationally recognized as a professional with training in best practices in Distance Counseling.

For more information, see the Center for Credentialing & Education, Inc. website.

Certified AODA Counselor: Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Counselor is one of the five reciprocal certifications offered through IC&RC.

For more information, see the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse, Inc. website.

ServSafe Alcohol: The ServSafe Alcohol program outlines effective responsible alcohol service practices for all front-of-the-house staff, including bartenders, waiters, hosts, busers, security and valets.

For more information, see the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation website.

LICENSES

Counselor, Certified Substance Abuse

Licensing agency: Department of Health Professions
Address: Board of Professional Counselors, 6606 West Broad Street, 4th Floor, Richmond, VA 23230-1717

Phone: (804) 662-9908
Website: Department of Health Professions Board of Professional Counselors

LOCATION INFORMATION: Arlington, Virginia

Arlington, Virginia
Arlington, Virginia photo by Postdlf

Arlington is located in Arlington County, Virginia. It has a population of over 209,969, which has grown by 10.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Arlington, 126, is far greater than the national average.

The top three industries for women in Arlington are professional, scientific, and technical services, public administration, and educational services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, public administration, and construction. The average commute to work is about 27 minutes. More than 60.2% of Arlington residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 30.6%, is higher than the state average.

The percentage of Arlington residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 29.2%, is less than both the national and state average. Church of the Convenant Presbyterian, Abundant Life United Holy Church and Advent Lutheran Church are among the churches located in Arlington. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church.

Arlington is home to the Clarendon Metro Station and the Virginia Square-GMU Metro Station as well as Arlington House-Robert E Lee Memorial and Doctors Branch Park. Shopping centers in the area include Lee-Harrison Shopping Center, Ballston Common Shopping Center and Lucas Market Shopping Center. Visitors to Arlington can choose from Econo Lodge National Airport, Crystal Gateway Marriott and Hilton Arlington & Towers for temporary stays in the area.