Certified Addictions Counselor Certificate and Career

A certified addiction counselor provides individual or group counseling services in a facility like a hospital, clinic or private practice. Find out more about this career and its certification requirements. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

A counseling degree program will help you gain the skills necessary to assess patients, provide education and support, understand the psychology of addiction, form treatment programs and advise patients on available services. Most counseling degree programs include an internship component, allowing you to gain experience while accumulating many of the hours required by certification and state licensing programs.

Careers As an addictions counselor in private counseling practice, hospitals, mental health centers and rehabilitation centers
Career Outlook Much faster than average job growth of 31% from 2016-2026 projected for this career field
Licensing/Certification All states require licensure for private practice counselors; certification requirements for non-private practice counselors vary by state, but many states typically require passage of a state competency exam

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Might I Need to Become a Certified Addictions Counselor?

The education requirements for certification as an addictions counselor depend on the state in which you practice. Some states allow counselors to work with patients and obtain certification after earning a certificate or associate's degree in alcohol and drug counseling, substance abuse counseling, or addiction counseling. However, many of the certificate and associate's degree programs are offered with the expectation that you will pursue a higher degree upon graduation. Most states will require you to hold a bachelor's degree or a master's degree in counseling or psychology, accumulate a certain number of hours of counseling and pass an exam before obtaining a license to practice or before pursuing certification.

How Do I Become Licensed or Certified?

You will need to learn the specific education, certification and licensure requirements of the state wherein you intend to practice. Your state may not require you to be licensed; however, all states do require addiction counselors in private practice to become licensed. You will need to check your state's licensing criteria in order to determine how to obtain your license.

Certification as an addiction counselor is mostly voluntary. The benefits of becoming certified may include a higher salary and more employment opportunities. Different certification programs have specific requirements regarding your degree and the number of hours of experience you must have. You will need to pass a certification exam once you meet your state's requirements. State regulatory boards or professional organizations, such as the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) or the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) offer certification programs and administer exams.

What Will My Career Be Like?

Once you have earned your degree, obtained a license to practice counseling in your state, and determined whether you need to seek certification, you can begin to look for employment or open your own counseling practice. Employers that hire addiction counselors include:

  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation clinics
  • Mental health centers
  • Private counseling practices

You may counsel individuals or groups of patients and might also be responsible for maintaining records, designing treatment plans, working with patients' families or dealing with crises.

As an addictions counselor, you need to have a calm demeanor, be able to follow a code of ethics, keep information confidential and be able to effectively deal with peoples' emotions. You can expect to make a median annual wage of $43,300 as an addictions counselor, according to the May 2017 salary report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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