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What Degree Do You Need For Addiction Counseling

Bachelors Degree In Substance Abuse Counseling

Addiction Counselor: Everything You Need To Know

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

Careers In Professional Substance Abuse Counseling

GCUs Master of Science in Addiction Counseling program can prepare you to become a professional counselor. With the completion of this degree, you can expect to meet the academic requirements for licensure in Arizona as a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor or a Licensed Associate Substance Abuse Counselor .

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, substance abuse and behavioral counselor jobs are expected to grow by 22% between 2014 and 2024, with a job outlook that is much faster than average. GCU offers a bachelors degree in addiction counseling that may prepare you for licensure and employment, but regulations vary. The masters degree can prepare you to take your career to the next level or students who have a bachelors degree in psychology or counseling prepare for licensure.

Are you ready to learn more about GCUs Master of Science in Addiction Counseling program? If so, then please click the green Request More Information button at the top of this page or visit the College of Humanities and Social Sciences to learn more.


  • Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors. Retrieved from:

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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Types Of Mental Health Degrees

The type of degree and amount of schooling required to become an addiction professional depends on the type of career youre pursuing. The specific educational requirements vary by state and employer.

In the state of Ohio, to become a licensed counselor, you will need a masters degree from a Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Program accredited counseling program, Norman said. Marriage and family therapists also need a masters degree to obtain licensure.

To obtain a license in psychology, you will need a doctorate in psychology, and you can get licensed as a social worker with a bachelors degree in the state of Ohio.

If youre striving to become an admissions specialist or entry-level nursing assistant, you may need only two years of education and an associates degree. If your goal is to become a clinical or medical director, youll need a masters degree or doctorate and between six and eight years of education.

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What Degree Do I Need To Be A Counselor

To become a licensed professional counselor, you will need a masters degree in counseling. Various counseling degree programs are available depending on your states requirements and your career interests, this might be a masters in professional counseling, mental health counseling, or clinical counseling. In some states, a doctoral degree in counseling can also be a pathway to becoming a licensed professional counselor. This might be an option to consider if you already have a masters in another subject or if you are interested in a research or academic career.

Jobs In Counseling With A Degree

How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor

Although counseling is not just a relationship formed to treat mental illness, that is an important part of what counselors do. The prevalence of mental illness in the US has led to high demand for counselors, a demand which is expected to remain strong in the coming years. According to the National Institute of Mental Health , nearly one in five adults in the US has a clinically-recognized mental illness, but fewer than half of these have received mental health services in the past year.1 In order to be able to recognize, diagnose, and treat mental illness effectively, as well as understand when to refer patients to another professional, counselors must have a formal education in these skills. In addition, as people who are seeking counseling services are considered a vulnerable population, all 50 US states have licensing guidelines for prospective counselors.

This means that most career opportunities in professional counseling require a college degree. To be licensed at the highest level in most states, particularly for mental health counselors, school counselors, and , a masters degree in counseling is the norm. Some states recognize an intermediate level of licensure with a bachelors degree in counseling. For counseling support roles and roles in substance abuse counseling, an associates degree in counseling or even a high school diploma plus some formal training may be sufficient for an entry-level career.

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Substance Abuse Counselor Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization allows substance abuse counselors to network and stay informed on current industry advancements. Most professional organizations host national conferences and publish informative newsletters. These organizations also provide continuing education hours that help counselors meet licensing renewal requirements. The following list contains professional organizations for addiction counselors:

  • NAATP offers resources like an addiction industry directory, a code of ethics, and an exclusive job center. This organization provides unique training such as member roundtables. NAATP provides awards and recognizes outstanding members.

How Long Will It Take

The length of time itll take to complete your schooling depends on which degree you pursue:

  • Associates degrees typically take two years
  • Bachelors degrees are usually completed in four years
  • Masters-level programs last about two years to three years

Its important to remember that if you plan to become certified by the NBCC, youll also need to tack on an additional two years post-masters to gain supervised clinical experience.

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What Are The Requirements For A Bachelors Degree In Addiction/substance Abuse

To apply to these programs, youll need a high school diploma or GED. Applications may ask for transcripts, letters of recommendations, personal statements, and SAT or ACT scores.

Like other bachelors degree programs, the programs on this list require about 120 credit hours for graduation. You may take courses in sociology, psychology, anatomy and physiology, research methods, counseling best practices, prevention and treatment, ethics, and criminal justice. Most addiction/substance abuse programs require a practicum or internship in the field, perhaps both.

Most programs fulfill licensing requirements in their state. However, youll need to check your states licensing requirements to ensure that the program you choose will help you meet education and supervised work requirements.

Can You Get Licensed With An Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degree

How To Find A Good Addiction Counselor (2020)

Absolutely! Provided that your substance abuse counselor program is appropriately accredited and meets state requirements, completing an online addiction studies program offers the same level of preparation as an on-campus program. You will likely need to complete an in-person clinical experience or practicum even if you do study online, but this can typically be completed in your local area.

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What Is A Certified Addiction Counselor

Well, generally-speaking, a certified addiction counselor is a mental health professional that provides counseling services, and support to recovering alcoholics and addicts . The primary goals of a certified addiction counselor is to help addicts work through their issues so they can attain and maintain a drug-free existence.

Certified addiction counselors work in a: group home, hospital, treatment facility, clinic, private doctors office, prison, and half-way house. They may work with clients individually, and in group settings. It is important to note that some substance abuse and addiction treatment facilities hire former addicts, who have maintained sobriety for a certain amount of time, to counsel active addicts through the withdrawal and treatment process.

These addiction counselors are not really counselors because they have not received formal training or experience in the counseling field, however, they are considered addiction coaches and addiction mentors, that provide a safe, place for addicts to work out their problems, and talk with someone, who has experienced the throes of addiction.

Both certified addiction counselors and addiction coaches/mentors can make a tremendous difference in the life of someone, who is suffering from an addiction. To become a certified addiction counselor, you will need to earn a bachelor degree and a masters degree in addiction counseling or a related field, and obtain a license and/or certified in the field.

Substance Abuse Counselor Salaries

The median annual salary for substance abuse counselors and related professions was $43,300 in May of 2017. Wages for the top 10 percent of U.S. substance abuse and mental health counselors was considerably higher, though, at just north of $70,000annually.

Substance abuse counselors who worked in government facilities also earned more than the national average at $50,600, as did counselors employed by hospitals . Average wages dipped below the national average for substance abuse counselors employed at outpatient and residential substance abuse facilities. reports that late-career professionals often earn up to 23 percent more than the nationalaverage. Location also can affect wages, as can specialty skills such as group counseling, case management, group therapy or diagnosis and treatment planning.

The following chart examines mean annual wages and employment data for substance abuse counselors in each state:


Currently Employed:839

Change in Employment :18%

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Employment And Salary Outlook For Counselors

With more people seeking out mental health and addiction treatment, counseling careers continue to experience employment growth. Professionals commonly find work in outpatient care centers and individual and family services. They earn mid-level wages in comparison with their counterparts in local government and residential facilities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral disorder counselors to increase by 22% from 2018-28. BLS projections also indicate that marriage and family therapists will experience a 22% growth rate in the same period.

Psychologists will experience a lower rate of projected job growth at 14% from 2018-28, while school and their career counselor employment will grow at a projected rate of 8% during the same period. Aspiring professionals must earn masters or doctoral degrees for these careers, making graduate coursework and degree completion essential to securing a job.

What Else Can I Expect From A Bachelor’s In Addiction Counseling Program

The Top Low

Most undergraduate students complete a core of general education requirements — including classes in English, natural science, mathematics, history, and the social sciences — in addition to major-specific courses. The specific course requirements for a substance use counselor degree can differ significantly between schools, and many addiction counseling degrees also include a capstone course, internship, fieldwork, or supervised counseling practicum.

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What Are The Specializations For Addiction Counseling

A substance abuse counselor is basically a mental health professional who has been trained to assist those struggling with addiction. Their primary goal is to guide these individuals and their loved ones who are also impacted down a path to recovery and then help them establish a better lifestyle that is healthy and drug-free. To do this a counselor may use the following special tools and techniques:

  • Therapy sessions
  • Clearly state the action plans that will lead to full recovery if followed

Associates Degree In Substance Abuse Counseling

An associates degree typically requires 60 credit hours, which with full-time study takes most students two years to complete. Many schools also allow for part-time study, in which case a substance abuse counselor degree may take three to five years to earn depending on how many courses you take each semester. Admissions requirements typically include a high school diploma or GED. Depending on the school, you may also need to have a minimum score on the ACT or SAT.

At the associates degree level, addiction counselor training will combine courses in substance abuse recognition and treatment as well as general education courses in the liberal arts and sciences. This combination will help you improve your communications skills while you hone your knowledge in the field of addiction treatments and lay the groundwork for further study and substance abuse counselor training. Common courses in an associates in substance abuse counseling program include:

  • Addiction and the Family
  • Understanding Addictions

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Certificate In Substance Abuse Counseling

For those who already have a degree or who are looking for a shorter program that can potentially lead to state licensure, many schools offer certificate programs in substance abuse counseling. At the undergraduate level, a high school diploma or associate degree is a common admissions prerequisite. At the graduate level, certificate programs will require prospective students to hold a bachelors degree.

Certificate programs typically take between 15 and 20 credit hours to complete, which equates to three to five courses . This can allow students to complete the program in as little as a semester, though a two-semester program is not uncommon. As such, certificates can provide a faster route to this career compared to a two-to-four-year drug and alcohol counselor degree program, especially if you already hold a college degree. Courses in substance abuse certificate programs tend to focus on the fundamentals of substance abuse counselor training, and will commonly have titles such as:

  • Alcohol, Drugs, and Behavior

Do I Need A Masters To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor

Substance Abuse Counselor Salary | How Much You Can Make! | ADCS Institute

Most states offer options for certification or licensure as a substance abuse counselor at the associates and bachelors degree levels, meaning that a masters degree is not strictly required. However, with a masters degree, you will typically qualify for a higher level of licensure due to the higher level of substance abuse counselor training that this degree represents, which can expand your career opportunities as well as increase your earnings potential.

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Are There Counseling Careers Without A Degree

There are not many counseling careers without a degree since most states require at least a masters degree to become licensed. However, in some states, it is possible to work in substance abuse counseling or as a counselors assistant without a degree. Check with your states licensing board for further information.

Professional Certifications For Substance Abuse Counseling Degree Holders

Substance abuse counselor certification varies widely by state, though it usually requires at least some formal education. An associates degree in substance abuse counseling is commonly the entry-level education requirement for a license in this field, as earning your associates in addiction or a related field may qualify you for a technician or training license while you complete supervised experience. Some states allow you to become fully licensed after completing the required supervised experience, while others require that you work under supervision until you earn a bachelors degree or complete equivalent substance abuse counselor training. Other states may have different requirements. Examples of possible license titles at this level include Certified Addiction Counselor and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor .

A post-graduate certificate in substance abuse counseling can also qualify you for professional certification, depending on your states requirements. Possible job titles will vary widely according to the level of the drug and alcohol counselor training program as well as other aspects of your education and work history. Generally, a certificate program will lead to license titles similar to those opened up by a bachelors or masters degree.

Counseling License Type

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Addiction/substance Abuse Counselor Certification Programs

Community colleges, some universities, and schools that provide career training may offer certificates for substance abuse counseling programs that allow students to become licensed in specific areas.

There are two types of certificate programs that students can take advantage of: the first is a preparatory program that students can enroll in before starting the associates degree program, and the other offers students a way to solidify their expertise in a certain area after they earn their masters degree in social work or in counseling.

An exam administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors allows counselors to become certified and offers a giant leap toward becoming licensed in some states. You must take and pass an exam to meet nationally-recognized standards and become certified. The following are the requirements:

  • Must have attended an accredited college or university where you earned your masters degree in counseling or a related field.
  • Have around 3,000 hours of experience in counseling, two years after receiving your masters, unless you completed CACREP accredited tracks. 100 of those hours must have been supervised by an already certified professional.
  • Get a passing score on the exam

Degree Spotlight: Ms In Addiction Counseling

How to Become a Counselor

Research indicates that millions of individuals suffer from substance abuse annually, and its among the most common problems in the United States. When you consider this, its not surprising that jobs in substance abuse and addiction counseling are projected to grow significantly, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If youre considering Grand Canyon Universitys Master of Science in Addiction Counseling degree, then read on to learn about the programs outcomes and potential career options:

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