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Addictions Counsellor

Addictions counsellors help individuals, families, and communities identify and deal with addictions and their effects through treatment programs and prevention programs.

  • Avg. Salary $61,978.00
  • Avg. Wage $33.93
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 6,100
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Addictions Educator, Clinician (Addictions / Substance Abuse), Counsellor (Behavioural Addictions / Drug and Alcohol Addiction / Gambling Stabilization / Harm Reduction / Treatment / Substance Abuse), Wellness Project Coordinator, Worker (Addiction Prevention / Detox / Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder Support / School Addiction Resource)

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Family, Marriage and Other Related Counsellors (4153) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Family, Marriage and Other Related Counsellors (E023) 
  • 2011 NOC: Family, marriage and other related counsellors (4153) 
  • 2016 NOC: Family, marriage and other related counsellors (4153) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Addictions Counsellor is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Family, Marriage and Other Related Counsellors

Interest in mentoring in order to counsel clients, and provide therapy and mediation services; and in assisting individuals and groups of clients to identify, understand and overcome personal problems and achieve personal objectives


Interest in co-ordinating information to develop and implement counselling and intervention programs to assist clients in determining goals and the means of attaining them; may conduct research, publish research papers, educational texts and articles


Interest in following up results of counselling programs and clients' adjustments; and in conducting vocational testing and psychometric assessment; may supervise other counsellors, social service staff and assistants

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Mar 31, 2020

Addictions counsellors work with clients who have addictions challenges. Clients may come from diverse cultures, exhibit different behaviours, and have a range of lifestyles. They may experience codependency, have eating disorders, or be addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or shopping. In general, addictions counsellors:

  • Provide information about addiction issues and available services and programs, and determine which program would most benefit the client
  • Assess client strengths, problem areas, severity of dependence, and readiness to change
  • Develop in-patient and out-patient treatment plans based on research, clinical experience, and client history
  • Use appropriate strategies and treatments to counsel and educate individuals and family members through all stages of recovery
  • Provide aftercare, follow up, and referrals as needed
  • Provide or facilitate crisis intervention, individual therapy, and group therapy as needed
  • Case manage and consult with other agencies or personnel involved in the client’s recovery
  • Review, evaluate, and document client progress
  • Create reports and discharge summaries

Addictions counsellors promote healthy lifestyles and raise awareness of addictions. This may involve developing, implementing, and evaluating programs for public education, prevention, and health promotion.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Depending on the agency, addictions counsellors may work standard weekday office hours or shifts that include evenings and weekends. At times, counsellors may need to travel.

Due to the nature and demands of addictions counselling, the work can be both emotionally rewarding and emotionally draining.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Addictions counsellors need:

  • Emotional maturity and a balanced, healthy lifestyle that emphasizes self-care
  • Patience
  • Tolerance for beliefs and values that differ from their own
  • A belief that individuals, families, and communities can change
  • Excellent communication, report writing, clinical note-taking, and presentation skills
  • Time-management skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Sound ethical practices and principles
  • Awareness of Indigenous issues
  • An understanding of trauma

Addictions counsellors should enjoy working with people and synthesizing information to find innovative solutions to problems. They should find reward in helping others. Some addictions counsellors have achieved stability and a desire to help after experiencing their own addictions.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Employers give preference to addictions counsellors with a related university degree. Depending on where they’re employed, they may be hired with the minimum of a diploma in addictions counselling or related field of study.

Post-secondary schools throughout Alberta offer related degree programs. For more information, see the Psychologist, Child and Youth Care Worker, and Social Worker occupation profiles.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Academy of Healthcare Services

Academy of Learning - Brooks

Academy of Learning - Calgary NE

Academy of Learning - Calgary South

Academy of Learning - Edmonton Downtown

Academy of Learning - Edmonton South

Academy of Learning - Edmonton West

Academy of Learning - High River

Academy of Learning - Medicine Hat

Academy of Learning - Red Deer

Academy of Learning Airdrie

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary City Centre

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary South

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton North

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton West

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Red Deer

Lakeland College

Mount Royal University

Northern Lakes College

Reeves College - Calgary City Centre

Reeves College - Calgary North

Reeves College - Edmonton

Reeves College - Lethbridge

Reeves College - Lloydminster

Sundance College - Edmonton

Vancouver College of Counsellor Training

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

In 2018 the Mental Health Services Protection Act [pdf] was amended to include addictions counsellors, child and youth care counsellors, and counselling therapists under the new College of Counselling Therapy of Alberta (CCTA). Regulations are being developed and these professions will be regulated in the near future. Once this happens, counsellors will need to be approved by CCTA to work in these professions. For updates on the regulation, visit Alberta Counselling Therapists Association (ACTA).

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Addictions counsellors work for agencies that offer prevention, health promotion, aftercare, early intervention, or treatment programs. They may work in addiction programs, harm-reduction facilities, or shelters for women or men. They may also work with private agencies, First Nation communities, the criminal justice system, health services, schools, or community programs.

Advancement opportunities depend on the counsellor’s qualifications and experience, and on the size and nature of the organization.

Addictions counsellors are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4153: Family, marriage and other related counsellors. In Alberta, 81% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth ( when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 4153: Family, marriage and other related counsellors occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.4% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 206 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020
Family, marriage and other related counsellors

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $18.00 $37.42 $28.50 $28.41
Overall $20.07 $51.60 $33.93 $30.19
Top $20.90 $56.21 $38.76 $35.72

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Educational Services
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
  • Social, Community and Protective Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Alberta Counselling Therapists Association (ACTA) website:

Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation (CACCF) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2020. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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