As a Substance Abuse Professional is Self-Employment Right for You
As a substance abuse professional, many think that they will end up working in a residential treatment center or other social work-type setting. This is always possible and quite likely but have you ever considered self-employment options in the substance abuse field? Think it’s too risky to start your own business? I understand that and used to think exactly the same thing for many years. In fact, after college I swore that I would NEVER ever be self-employed because I wanted the security of working for a large company. About 6 years ago, one of those large companies that was providing that “security” blanket for me filed bankruptcy and I was left with little choice but to set out on my own. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I can’t imagine ever going back to working for someone else again. In fact, my ideas about being self-employed were a bit backwards and this guy paints a pretty good picture of those misconceptions in his article.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in January 2014 that 14.4 million Americans were self-employed (see graph). The trend appears to be going down, but this is deceptive due to some of the ways that the BLS classifies “self employment” and the number really are rising over the long-term. If you think that you may want to be self-employed, give some thought as to why you would want to do that. There are both advantages and disadvantages to self-employment.
Advantages of Self-Employment
Self-employment can be great and for quite a few reasons. Here are some:
- Choose your own hours. This doesn’t necessarily mean quantity, but it can. However, if you’re a late riser and would rather work from 10:00am until sometime in the evening, that would be an option in many industries.
- Freedom. What I mean by this is that you are the designer of your business and your destiny. You decide what path you take, what you’ll be doing today, what your goals are and who you are going to interact with. These are all amazing benefits of being self-employed.
- Job satisfaction. How can you not have increased job satisfaction when you are running the show? If things don’t work out on one project, give yourself a pat on the back and move on. It’s as simple as that.
Disadvantages of Self-Employment
I find that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages but these are important and many people leave the self-employed life because of them.
- Rules. There are still rules and you’ll need to learn them or hire someone to take care of all of this for you. This refers to business licenses, insurance and paying taxes.
- Schedule. Above we said that you get to pick your hours. We didn’t mention that those hours are likely to be looong. I never worked this many hours when I worked for a corporation. I often put in 14 hour days and sometimes work 6 days per day. They don’t feel like 14 hour days most of the time but, when it’s your business, it’s up to you to get things done.
- Benefits. There are no paid holidays, sick time or company benefits when you are a one-person show. If you have a successful business with some good income streams, however, you shouldn’t have to be hustling every minute of the day to bring in a paycheck. It will be up to you to purchase health insurance and provide for retirement.
If this hasn’t scared you off, know that there are many people who are self-employed and wouldn’t have it any other way. The freedom that comes with self-employment can’t be matched but it does take a certain breed to be able to pull it off. You must be committed, focused, have confidence, be able to make decisions, work under pressure and be self-motivating. If this is you, you can work as a substance abuse professional in many capacities on your own – such as an independent drug and alcohol counselor, and intervention specialist and a recovery coach.