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Becoming A Drug & Alcohol Counselor: What You Need To Know About Certs

There are roughly 327,500 substance abuse and mental health counseling jobs in the U.S. as of 2020. Analysts predict that number to grow 23% by 2030. 

Have you considered a position as a drug and alcohol counselor? Are you aware of the addiction counselor certifications needed?

There are several key steps to becoming qualified. The following guide will explain each step and help you to become an alcohol and drug counselor.

Required Education

Make sure to document all of your education. You must have at least a high school diploma or GED, but some boards require higher education. You don’t need a college degree for lower-level certifications in most states.

States do require a certain amount of related education hours. Some hours will help you get certified in addiction studies, while other hours will focus on counseling. You can complete hours through formal coursework or continued education.

Competence Requirements

Credential agencies have several policies in place. They ensure that you meet the ethical and legal requirements to work competently.

Some licensing requires a fingerprint-based criminal background check. You might also sign a release to conduct a background screening.

Independent certification boards usually need several reference letters. They’ll usually have you sign a code of ethics as well.

They’ll also want to know if you’ve ever had substance abuse or addiction problems. If you have, they’ll want to know that you’ve been drug-free for a certain period of time.

Experience Required

You will need to work around 2,000 hours or more before receiving full credentials. You might have to register or conduct an entry-level credential to complete this.

Some state agencies only mandate that a percentage of counseling staff are fully qualified. The rest of the staff can be continuing their education. Supervisors have to give an evaluation or recommendation to the certification board eventually.

Counseling Examination

You will also go through a process of examination. It usually happens after you have applied. Most boards request examinations like NAADAC or IC&RC.

Some states require written examination and other states require you to take an oral examination. You might be asked to submit case studies with your application.

Sometimes aspiring counselors need to take a jurisprudence examination. It’s a law and ethics test related to counseling. 

Additional Credentials

You’ll be authorized to use a title after meeting all requirements. The title might include things like ‘licensed’ or ‘certified’ but it varies in different states. Third-party boards only issue certifications and not licenses.

The term ‘licensed’ refers to master’s level practitioners in certain states. Likewise, the term ‘certified’ refers to anything below the master’s level. Other states use ‘licensed’ for every title.

Becoming a Drug and Alcohol Counselor

Now you know the basic steps to becoming a drug and alcohol counselor. Expect to spend time gaining credentials and counseling experience before landing a job.

Remember this guide and start your journey to becoming a certified or licensed counselor. Check out the rest of our site for more fascinating articles and helpful tips.