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Becoming an executive director (ED) means being a dependable leader in an important upper management role. A person in this position must demonstrate expertise in a wide range of skills, including staff management, communication, clinical operations and more.
The best EDs are flexible, organized, and decisive individuals who can lead and direct others toward meeting their patients’ addiction treatment needs. EDs are also heavily involved on the administration side of things, including budgetary planning, policy creation and organizational coordination.
An executive director, sometimes called the director of operations, fulfills a variety of tasks related to client satisfaction, staff policies and organizational goals. In an average day, the ED may:
Becoming an ED typically requires a master’s-level education and years of relevant work experience. Additionally, organizations often look for certain skills and credentials when choosing a new ED.
The core competencies needed for an ED role are similar to those of other leadership positions in health care. The most sought-after soft skills and abilities include:
A candidate only needs a bachelor’s degree in majors like medical science, life science or clinical administration to become an ED. However, most people in the role have either a master’s degree in health administration or a master’s in business administration with a focus on health management.
Certain credentials related to substance abuse treatment or health care can help candidates stand out when applying for an ED position. Here are the licenses and credentials typically sought out by businesses looking for an ED:
Many EDs in substance abuse treatment facilities start in licensed clinical roles before moving up to leadership roles with more administrative duties. For example, a person may become a licensed chemical dependency counselor for a significant part of their career while continuing to pursue a master’s degree in health administration.
The road to becoming an ED or similar role may take time, but it’s a possibility that anyone can achieve if they work diligently toward it. Michael Griggs first came to Advanced Recovery Systems not as a candidate but as a client looking for substance abuse treatment. After addressing his addiction, he spent the next five years working his way up the career ladder, moving through counselor roles and earning certifications as he entered associate leadership roles. With his hard work and continued commitment to improvement, he eventually became the Executive Director at Next Step Village.
Executive directors can be found in hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities, private clinics, physician offices and government locations. As of 2019, the average median wage for an ED was around $100,980 per year. Job demand is expected to grow rapidly (32%) in the next ten years.
There are many ways that a person can find and apply for ED positions. Online job boards can help you discover which locations may be hiring. If you have a specific organization or type of facility already in mind, their career portals may provide information about potential openings.
You can also reach out to your professional network, which includes past professors, colleagues and staff leaders who may have information about available jobs. Conferences, seminars and other health care events can also connect you with other professionals who may have helpful resources or connections to share with you.
The Recovery Village and its partner locations sometimes have open positions for executive directors and other leadership roles. We are also always searching for licensed mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals, which can help you grow the experience needed to land an executive position. Visit our career portal to see an up-to-date list of all available job openings at The Recovery Village.