Drug and Alcohol Counsellors
Drug and Alcohol Counsellors provide support and treatment for people with drug and alcohol dependency problems, develop strategies which assist them to set goals and affect and maintain change, and provide community education. They may work in call centres.
Assesses client needs in relation to treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.
Conducts counselling interviews with individuals, couples and family groups.
Assists people in the understanding and adjustment of attitudes, expectations and behaviour.
Presents alternative approaches and discusses potential for attitude and behavioural change.
Consults with clients to develop rehabilitation plans taking account of vocational and social needs.
May work in a call centre.
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. Employment projections data are only produced for occupations at the broad four digit Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) level. While data are not available for this occupation, projections data are available for the parent occupation, Counsellors, under the outlook section.
Earnings and hours
Around 64% of people employed as Drug and Alcohol Counsellors work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is similar to the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 41 hours per week in their main job. This is similar to the all jobs average (44 hours per week).
Sources:Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average.
Most Drug and Alcohol Counsellors work in the Health care and social assistance industry. They are also employed in industries like:
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Drug and Alcohol Counsellors||All Jobs Average|
Around 48% of Drug and Alcohol Counsellors live outside of capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 38%.
Victoria, the Northern Territory and Western Australia have a large share of employment relative to their population size.
The regions with the largest share of workers are:
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Drug and Alcohol Counsellors is 45 years. This is higher than the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 45 to 54 years.
Females make up 63% of the workforce. This is 15 percentage points above the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Drug and Alcohol Counsellors||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||4.4||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
A formal qualification in counselling (alcohol and drugs), mental health, psychology, social work or another related field is needed to work as a Drug and Alcohol Counsellor. University and Vocational Education and Training (VET) are both common study pathways.
- Course Seeker to search and compare higher education courses.
- ComparED to compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes.
- My Skills to compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes.
- AAPathways website to explore Community Services VET training pathways.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Drug and Alcohol Counsellors||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||20.5||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||3.8||12.5|
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for Counsellors who can communicate clearly and are caring and compassionate.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
Reading work related information.
Talking to others.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
Looking for ways to help people.
Writing things for co-workers or customers.
55%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
Talking people into changing their minds or their behaviour.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
52%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
Figuring out the best way to teach or learn something new.
46%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Teaching people how to do something.
Measuring how well a system is working and how to improve it.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
45%Management of personnel resources
Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, and choosing the best people for the job.
Bringing people together and trying to sort out their differences.
Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect it.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
95%Therapy and counselling
Diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and career counselling and guidance.
Human behaviour; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; assessing and treating disorders.
76%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
71%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
61%Philosophy and theology
Philosophical systems and religions, including their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and impact on society.
61%Sociology and anthropology
Group behaviour and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
60%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
49%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
43%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
43%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
42%Communications and media
Media production, communication, and dissemination. Includes written, spoken, and visual media.
42%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
Plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, how they rely on and work with each other and the environment.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
37%Medicine and dentistry
Diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities, including preventive health-care measures.
36%Sales and marketing
Showing, promoting, and selling including marketing strategy, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
31%History and archeology
Events of the past, their causes, how we learn about them, and how they influence the way we live today.
Transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Listen to and understand what people say.
Communicate by speaking.
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Read and understand written information.
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
Write in a way that people can understand.
Identify and understand the speech of another person.
50%Sorting or ordering
Order or arrange things in a pattern or sequence (e.g., numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Come up with different ways of grouping things.
Come up with unusual or clever ideas, or creative ways to solve a problem.
Come up with a number of ideas about a topic, even if the ideas aren't very good.
See details that are far away.
43%Flexibility of closure
See a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) hidden in other distracting material.
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
Do two or more things at the same time.
Remember things like words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.
34%Speed of recognition
Quickly make sense of and organize things you can see like letters, numbers, pictures, or other things.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
74%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
71%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
70%Helping and caring for others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, or emotional support.
70%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
70%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
65%Documenting or recording information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
64%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
63%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
62%Negotiating and resolving conflicts
Handling complaints and disagreements, and negotiating with people.
61%Giving expert advice
Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups.
Using your own ideas for developing, designing, or creating something new.
59%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
59%Scheduling work and activities
Working out the timing of events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
57%Communicating with the public
Giving information to the public, business or government by telephone, in writing, or in person.
57%Checking compliance with standards
Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
57%Training and teaching others
Understanding the needs of others, developing training programs, and teaching or instructing.
54%Working with the public
Greeting or serving customers, clients or guests, and public speaking or performing.
50%Providing office support
Doing day-to-day office work such as filing and processing paperwork.
50%Leading and encouraging a team
Encouraging and building trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
43%Working with computers
Using computers to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Interests and demands
Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Talk with people face-to-face.
95%Indoors, heat controlled
Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.
94%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
Work with people in a group or team.
90%Freedom to make decisions
Have freedom to make decision on your own.
Work to strict deadlines.
87%Frequent decision making
Frequently make decisions that impact other people.
Talk on the telephone.
86%Spend time sitting
Spend time sitting at work.
Use electronic mail.
85%Impact of decisions
Make decisions that have a large impact on other people.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
83%Angry or unpleasant people
Deal with unpleasant, angry, or rude people.
Deal with conflict or disagreements.
82%Contact with the public
Work with customers or the public.
81%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
79%Letters and memos
Write letters and memos.
76%Lead or coordinate a team
Lead others to do work activities.
75%Physically close to people
Work physically close to other people.
70%Disease or infection
Be exposed to disease or infections.
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 21-1011.00 - Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.