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How Do I Become An Addiction Counselor

Education Requirements To Join The Workforce

What does it take to be an addiction counselor?

To become a substance abuse counselor you will usually need at least a two year training program. However, increasingly a bachelors degree in Psychology, Sociology, Social Work or a related field is required to be considered for a position. In addition, it is always wise to study a foreign language as bilingual and multilingual candidates are highly sought after.

Certified Addiction Counselor Cac

This requires up to 6000 hours of related work experience, up to 300 hours of supervised training in core areas like evaluation, documentation and managing records, ethics, drug education, treatment planning, and referral to other counselors. Associates and bachelors degrees reduce the amount of experience and training required.

Or Licensure And Certification

Two types of accreditation are recognized in the United States institutional and specialized. Institutional accreditation takes the entire institution into account while the specialized focus on professional preparation programs. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs is a specialized accreditation that focuses on masters and doctoral degree programs in addictions counseling at colleges and universities worldwide. Only already-accredited institutions are eligible for CACREP review. The review for accreditation will center on programs offering graduate degrees in addictions counseling.

Choosing a CACREP-accredited program ensures that the program meets the highest of quality standards. Many counseling specialties are accredited bythe CACREP, including addiction counseling. Accredited addiction counseling programs prepare individuals to work with those affected by addictive behavior and their families. Addictive behaviors include alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, sex, and anything else that negatively affects your personal or work life by creating addiction behaviors.

CACREP-accredited programs will focus on treatment models and the phases of addiction including prevention, recovery, and relapse prevention. These 60-semester hour programs will include the application of interventions. When students choose a CACREP-accredited program they can be confident that:


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How Do I Become A Substance Abuse Counselor

When you want to make a true difference in the lives of troubled individuals, being a substance abuse counselor can be a great option. As a substance abuse counselor, you will help people recover from addictions to drugs and other additive substances. Being a substance abuse counselor can be a very rewarding career for people who enjoy helping others get on the right track in life.

What Are The Licensing Or Certification Requirements

How do I become a substance abuse and behavioral disorder ...

Substance abuse counselors in private practice must be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all states require a masters degree from an accredited university, at least 2,000 hours of supervised clinical work, and a passing score on a state-recognized exam. While some practice requires just a Bachelors degree , in order to practice clinically, a masters degree and licensure is required. Practicing addiction/substance abuse counselors may also need to take continuing education courses to maintain licensure. Information about each state’s regulatory board can be found through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Those practicing addiction counseling outside of private practice face less stringent requirements, depending on the state in which you plan to practice. Not all states require a specific degree, but many require applicants to pass an exam. Contact information for your states licensing board can be found through the Addiction Technology Transfer Center . You will also find a comprehensive list of different titles and certifications through the ATTC as these vary state to state and setting to setting.

Specific counseling licensure requirements vary by state. See state license requirements.

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Certified Addiction Counselor Course Information

Certified Addiction Counselor training, along with work experience and supervision are the first steps in becoming an addiction counselor. The Certified Addiction Counselor represents one of the highest designations in the addictions field and is overseen by the Florida Certification Board. The CAC designation is also reciprocated in dozens of states throughout the US designation), allowing credentialed individuals to become credentialed in other states without retaking qualification requirements.

With the addiction counselor training you receive at The Academy for Addiction Professionals, youll be well prepared for the Florida Certification Boards exam. Below, youll find more information on the educational requirements to become a CAC.

Certified Addiction Counselor standards for certification


Doctorate In Substance Abuse Counseling

For those who are interested in careers in academia or research, earning a PhD in substance abuse may be the right path. A PhD provides you with a solid understanding of qualitative and quantitative research methods as well as a strong background in counseling theory. While you can qualify for a counseling license with a masters degree, if you have already earned a masters in a subject other than counseling, a counseling-related PhD may help you qualify for your license while furthering your career.

As an advanced degree, the coursework for a PhD in substance abuse counseling is academically rigorous. In addition to challenging coursework, you should also expect to write and defend a thesis a process that typically takes at least a year, and often up to three. Doctoral programs that emphasize practice in addiction counseling will also likely include a fieldwork component. Academic courses that are typical for a doctoral-level drug and alcohol counselor degree plan include:

  • Advanced Assessment Techniques
  • Theories and Methods of Counselor Education

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Substance Abuse Counselor Job Training

Substance abuse counselor jobs require more than a degree and licensure. Counseling professionals must also complete extensive on-the-job training. While studying for their degrees, many students complete internships, though some associate programs in psychology or counseling do not require internships or practicums. At the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels, counseling degrees require students to complete many hours of supervised work.

While in school, students may volunteer in service-related roles to boost their resumes. For example, counseling students might man crisis text lines, train as American Red Cross disaster mental health volunteers, or work as rape crisis counselors.

Most states require prospective counselors to complete hundreds or thousands of supervised hours before granting counseling licensure. Typically, professionals must earn these hours after graduating from approved counseling, psychology, or social work programs.

Some states determine hour requirements for substance abuse counselor licensure based on tiers. For instance, tier one might mandate an associate degree and regular supervision. Tier two might call for 1,000 hours of experience in addition to a bachelors degree. Tier three could require 4,000 hours, plus a graduate degree.

Masters Degree In Addiction Counseling

How to become an addiction counselor in Georgia

Earning a masters degree is an important step for many addiction counselors. In some states, you must achieve this level of education before youre allowed to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

All states require you to get a masters if you want to become clinically licensed.

In states other than Kansas, a masters degree can be a good way to break into this field for the first time. A number of masters programs dont require you to hold a particular bachelors degree.

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On the other hand, certain undergraduate prerequisites may qualify you for an advanced-standing masters program. The masters program you pursue can come in a number of fields. For example, some students earn a masters in applied behavior analysis or a masters in psychology.

Some graduate programs are specifically designed to prepare you for licensure. Youll first need to earn work hours and take an exam.

Licensure can allow you to practice independently, and it can qualify you to take advanced roles with increased responsibilities or higher pay.

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What It Takes To Be A Substance Abuse Counselor

There are several educational paths that lead to rewarding careers within the field of Substance Abuse Counseling. Like most career fields, there is a correlation between the amount of education and training you accumulate, and the salary, autonomy and job responsibilities you will have once you start working. A Bachelor’s Degree, earned at the college or university level, is typically the first step for students who wish to acquire the skills and certification needed to counsel individuals with substance abuse problems. The most common major for students pursing substance abuse counseling is in Alcohol & Drug Abuse Studies or Addictions Counseling. After students build a strong foundation in counseling and the behavioral sciences they have an opportunity to focus their academic pursuits on a more specialized area of study. Completing graduate level coursework with a Master’s Degree, or a Doctorate degree will provide students with the knowledge and skills required to become a licensed counselor and to work in private practice if they so desire.

Other Helpful Skills And Experience

Succeeding as a substance abuse counselor means more than meeting the basic state-established education and experience requirements. Candidates should develop the attitudes, characteristics, and skills needed to help people overcome the challenges posed by chemical addictions.

Soft skills, such as communication, organization, and memorization, can prove valuable in counseling settings. Moreover, the ability to manage stress, regulate emotions, and empathize with people in recovery also proves critical. Most importantly, substance abuse counselors must want to help people facing this particular challenge.

In addition to these soft skills, specific backgrounds and experience can lay a strong foundation for substance abuse counseling. Relevant experience for this career includes military service or prior work experience with diverse groups of people. Personal experience with recovery can also give counselors valuable insight as they help others however, maintaining boundaries also proves critical to becoming an effective counselor.

While education and certification are vital, the best degrees build on students life experiences and innate talents. People with the hearts to serve others can use their coursework and licenses to make a difference.

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Become An Addiction Counselor

Figuring Out If Becoming a Substance Abuse Counselor Is ...

Substance abuse and addiction counselors treat individuals with drug and alcohol addictions, gambling and eating disorders. This career field is one of the most challenging mental health fields and requires a person with compassion, understanding and empathy.

They also have to be strong, self-confident and honest individuals able to deal with confrontation, stress, setbacks and incremental success. With the courts more willing to make drug or alcohol rehabilitation as part of sentencing for crimes involving substance abuse and addiction, the field is growing with opportunities in many areas.

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Drug And Alcohol Counselor Job Market And Outlook

Right now, there are over 24 MILLION people in America struggling with a substance abuse disorder. Only about 11% of those who need help actually get the professional treatment they need, however.

This means that there is a pressing need for trained and experienced addiction counselors, and the need is only projected to get significantly bigger. As of 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 94,900 substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor jobs in America.

By 2024, that sector is expected to grow by 22%, adding an additional 21,200 jobs.

And that is just the specific sector of addiction/behavioral counselors. There are other related fields that can use some of the same education and training that will also experience growth as the need for specialized professional services also expands.

  • Addiction Psychologists +19%
  • Addiction Counseling Assistants +11%

How Do I Become An Addictions Counselor

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Find the information you need to find, get into, pay for, and thrive in the best college for you.

Addictions counselors, also referred to as substance abuse counselors, are counseling professionals who advise individuals with alcoholism or other types of drug addiction to support their recovery. Addictions counselors are typically responsible for evaluating clients mental health, developing treatment goals, recommending treatment options, helping individuals modify behaviors for recovery, educating families on how to cope with addiction behaviors, and/or referring clients to other supportive resources in the community. Due to the fact that these professionals often deal with clients in crisis situations and have a large impact on the lives of others, it is necessary for addictions counselors to be highly trained. For those aspiring to this rewarding career, the following are the steps necessary to get on the path towards being a successful addictions counselor.

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How Much Schooling Do You Need To Be A Counselor

While many substance abuse counselingpositions call for at least a bachelors degree, requirements vary by state. Some jobs require a masters degree while others look for only a combination of a high school diploma and certification, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics .1

However, your level of education can often limit the responsibilities you are given. The BLS notes that human service assistants with high school diplomas, for instance, tend to do more menial work, like helping clients complete paperwork.

Generally speaking, you need at least a bachelors in human services, counseling, rehabilitation, social work or a related field to advance to case management work.

If you want to screen, assess, diagnose and treat people living with substance use disorder, you’ll need to seek licensure. Licensing processes vary by state, but most include educational requirements and supervised clinical experience. Additionally, you’ll likely need to pass a state-issued exam and pursue continuing education each year.

Those interested in progressing into a program that leads to licensure should explore SNHUs online master’s in clinical mental health counseling a valuable next step once youve earned your undergraduate-level substance abuse counselor degree.

How Is Sober Colleges Addiction Counselor Program Different From Other Programs

How to become a Substance Abuse Counselor in NC

The course material in online formats is delivered via Moodle, an online learning platform that provides a personalized learning environment for our students. Since all coursework is submitted on Moodle, students can trust that all work is organized, secure and visible to their instructor in real time. Moodle also offers time management tools and interactive assignments, catering to the varying needs of students.

  • The Format, Length and GradingOur online program takes 6 months to complete 6 courses concurrent enrollment in practicum courses starting in month 2. Students receive detailed feedback on all assignments within one week of submitting, allowing for continual improvement. Students receive a letter grade for each course and must earn a C or better in each course to graduate. However, online format offer students the same curriculum and meet all the necessary learning objectives in several states across the country.
  • Instructor Support Instructors are available to assist students daily. Instructors can be reached via email 24/7, with a 24-hour turn around time for emails. Instructors are available for support over the phone by appointment. There is a General Questions discussion forum located in Moodle where students can post questions regarding assignment requirements and/or course concerns and receive a response within 24 hours. This is also a great time to ask for clarification and review important material for the final exam.
  • Student Payment Plan
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    What Jobs Can You Get With A Degree In Substance Abuse Counseling

    Since the licensing requirements for substance abuse counselors vary from state to state, we suggest checking your states requirements as you evaluate substance abuse counselor programs. You may also find it helpful to check current job listings in your area to get an idea of common requirements. Note that while a certificate can qualify you for a license in some states, this varies widely by state and program. To help you begin to research, we have provided the following overview of common jobs for each drug counselor degree level.

    Associates-trained substance abuse specialists are typically eligible for a variety of technician and assistant positions in the counseling realm. With an associates degree in substance abuse counseling plus completion of a practicum or internship and passing scores on an exam that meets your states requirements, you may be able to apply for a licensed technician or licensed substance abuse counselor credential. This may allow you to practice direct substance abuse treatment and counseling services under supervision or with a recognized treatment provider.

    Earning a masters in substance abuse counseling will typically qualify you for licensure as a substance abuse counselor. At this level, a masters degree and a license are often prerequisites for the positions available. Most jobs will focus on the clinical treatment of addiction disorders, though it is possible to find research positions with a masters degree.

    Do I Need To Go To Graduate School For Substance Abuse Counseling

    Unlike many other specialties, substance abuse counselors can typically become licensed with an associates or bachelors degree. However, there can be more job opportunities for graduate-level counselors specializing in substance abuse. In addition to checking licensure requirements for your state, its a good idea to research current job listings to find out typical requirements in your area. If youre already working, there are a variety of online addiction counseling degree programs that can be a good fit for a busy schedule.

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    What Does An Addiction Counselor In Indiana Do What Is Their Job Role

    Anyone who is thinking of pursuing a career in the field of substance abuse counseling in the state of Indiana must consider a variety of substance abuse counseling careers. These careers entail a variety of educational requirements, licensure, and field work depending upon which one you choose to pursue.

    Bachelors Degree In Substance Abuse Counseling

    How Do I Become an Addiction Therapist? (with pictures)

    The minimum requirement for admission to a bachelors degree in addiction counseling is a high school diploma or GED. Schools also commonly require applicants to provide ACT or SAT scores. Once admitted, a bachelors degree typically takes four years to earn with full-time study. Depending on the school, you may be able to reduce the time it takes to earn a substance abuse counselor degree by taking more courses and/or summer semesters, or add scheduling flexibility by studying part-time over a longer period.

    Compared to those who completed an associates degree in substance abuse counseling, bachelors degree holders will have completed more courses specific to addiction counselor training, especially in the areas of assessments, treatment planning, and intervention methodologies. While depending on the state they may or may not be able to provide diagnoses , the greater scope of practice typically associated with a bachelors-level drug counselor degree can allow for more career opportunities. Courses common in bachelors-level addiction studies degree programs include:

    • Abnormal Psychology
    • Study of Alcohol Use and Addiction
    • Study of Drug Use and Addiction
    • Substance Abuse Internship/Practicum

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