What Are the Requirements to Be a Certified Addiction Counselor?
Addiction counselors help individuals who have substance abuse problems or other addictive behaviors they can't control. Certification requirements for addiction counselors differ between certifying bodies, but most will require you to meet a combination of education and experience requirements before passing an exam. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
As an certified addiction counselor, you'll assist all types of people in handling their addictions, often through individual counseling, group sessions, and family involvement. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), prospective counselors must meet detailed licensing, education, and certification requirements that vary by state.
Certifications and Requirements
Addiction counselors usually obtain certification voluntarily, rather than by state mandate. There are several organizations that offer addiction counseling certifications, with each one having its own set of requirements. Remember that once you earn a certification, you'll probably have to maintain your status by fulfilling continuing education or reexamination requirements.
National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC)
The National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level I (NCAC I); National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level II (NCAC II); and Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) are certification options offered by NAADAC (www.naadac.org). To become certified, you'll have to pay a certification fee and pass a written exam. You'll also have to meet specific licensing, training, and education requirements that vary by level. For example, to become a MAC, you'll need to hold a master's degree, provide proof of three years of experience in the field, and be licensed as a counselor in your state.
National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
You can become a National Certified Counselor (NCC) through NBCC by holding a master's degree, providing proof of study in predetermined areas, passing the National Counselor Exam (NCE), and meeting a minimum of 3,000 hours of experience, 100 of which must be supervised (www.nbcc.org). Once you've obtained the NCC designation, you are eligible to earn the Master Addictions Counselor (MAC) credential, which has similar requirements.
American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders
The American Academy offers a Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS) certification (www.americanacademy.org). You become eligible for this certification by providing proof of a combination of education and experience, which varies depending on the level of education you've completed; submitting at least three professional recommendations; and passing the certification exam.
Although certification is typically optional, you'll probably need to be licensed to work as an addiction counselor. The addiction counseling licensing requirements of the state in which you'll work may be different from the requirements that govern other types of counselors. Many states also offer their own certifications that addiction counselors can obtain in addition to their licenses.
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