What do they do?

Assess and treat individuals with mental, emotional, or substance abuse problems, including abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs. Activities may include individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, case management, client advocacy, prevention, and education.

Also known as:

Case Manager, Case Therapist, Chemical Dependency Counselor, Clinical Social Worker, Clinical Therapist, Clinician, Community Support Worker, Counselor, Crisis Intervention Specialist, Direct Service Provider, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Mental Health Case Manager, Mental Health Clinician, Mental Health Practitioner, Mental Health Social Worker, Mental Health Therapist, Outpatient Clinician, Outpatient Therapist, Psychiatric Social Worker, Social Worker, Substance Abuse Clinician, Substance Abuse Counselor, Therapist, Treatment Coordinator

Typical Wages

Projected Growth Rate

Employment of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers is projected to grow 12 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than average compared to all occupations.

Projected Employment in VA

No Data Available
  • 12.7%

    Change

    Ranks #36 in job growth rate
    480

    Job Openings

    Ranks #18 in net job growth

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Education Level

Percent of workers in this field with these degrees:

  • Doctorate or Professional Degree  (4%)
  • Master's degree  (71%)
  • Bachelor's degree  (16%)
  • Associate's degree  (1%)
  • Some college, no degree  (4%)
  • High school diploma equivalent  (3%)
  • Less than high school diploma  (1%)

Typical College Majors

Most Popular Majors that prepare Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

Select Type of Degree:

  • #1
    • Degrees Granted

      57,434
    • Female Students

      50,586
    • Male Students

      6,848
    • Median Starting Salary

      $33,800
  • #2
    • Degrees Granted

      2,826
    • Female Students

      2,477
    • Male Students

      349
    • Median Starting Salary

      $37,200
  • #3
    • Degrees Granted

      378
    • Female Students

      336
    • Male Students

      42
    • Median Starting Salary

      $33,800

People in this career often have these skills:

  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Learning Strategies - Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Negotiation - Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

People in this career often know a lot about:

  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.

People in this career often have talent in:

  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Originality - The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.

People in this career often do these activities:

  • Counsel clients or patients with substance abuse issues.
  • Counsel clients or patients regarding personal issues.
  • Collaborate with other professionals to assess client needs or plan treatments.
  • Monitor clients to evaluate treatment progress.
  • Maintain client records.
  • Collect information about clients.
  • Interview clients to gather information about their backgrounds, needs, or progress.
  • Supervise workers providing client or patient services.
  • Modify treatment plans to accommodate client needs.
  • Assist clients in handling details of daily life.
  • Lead classes or community events.
  • Counsel family members of clients or patients.
  • Conduct research on social issues.
  • Maintain professional social services knowledge.
  • Refer clients to community or social service programs.
  • Plan programs to address community health issues.
  • Advise others on social or educational issues.

This page includes data from:

O*NET OnLine Career data: O*NET 28.1 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (“USDOL/ETA”). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Logo Occupation statistics: USDOL U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics

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