Substance Abuse Counselor Certification and License

Are you interested in working as a substance abuse counselor? If so, you are not alone. This is a career field that has grown over the past few years with the future expected to bring more of the same. In fact, this field is expected to grow by roughly 27 percent through 2020.

While this may sound like the right career path for you, there is something to remember: you need the proper training, certification, and license to get started. Without the right education, you will not be able to reach your goal of working as a substance abuse counselor.

Once you know more about the certification and license process, you can decide if this is something you want to pursue. Some find that they are more than willing to do whatever it takes from an education perspective to work in this field. Others, however, realize that they are faced with too much and decide to put this on the backburner for the time being. The choice is yours, but this is not something you can decide on until you learn more about the requirements.

Substance Abuse Counselor Certification Requirements

Generally speaking, the requirements associated with a job as a substance abuse counselor depends largely on the hiring company. For example, some employers only require a high school diploma as long as the applicant also has the proper certification. On the other hand, there are those that have attended college, with some having a master’s degree.

Note: the higher your level of education the better chance there is that you will be able to reach the top of the salary range for this career. Along with this, counselors with more education are often times in position to apply for jobs that have greater responsibility.

Certified Substance Abuse Counselor Training

substance abuse counselor certification and licenseDo you have a bachelor’s or master’s degree? If so, you will not likely require as much training as others. That being said, you can expect a certain level of training as you get up and running with a new position. After all, no two employers are the same, even if the job title and description is similar.

On the other side of things, those that only have a high school diploma may require a certain degree of training to ensure that they are on the right track.

Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor Options

Are you interested in opening a private practice? In this case, you are required to have a license. To get this, there are steps that must be taken. For example, you need to obtain a master’s degree as well as 2,000 + hours of supervised, clinical experience. This may sound like a lot of work, but if you want to receive your license it is something you have to do.

Note: you will also be required to pass a licensing exam in your state, based on the state’s requirements. It is important to remember that the requirements in one state will not be the same as another.

Anybody who is interested in learning more about certification and licensing should contact the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Steps to Get Started

With all the information above out of the way, you probably have a better idea of if you want to become a substance abuse counselor. If you are sure that this is a career you want to pursue, it is time to take the necessary steps towards making your dream come true.

Here are a few steps you need to follow:

  • Learn more about the educational requirements in your state, ensuring that you complete the necessary coursework
  • Gain as much experience as possible in this field, even if it means working in another capacity during your time in school
  • Be sure to maintain a clean legal record – if you don’t, you are going to find it very difficult, if not impossible, to secure a position
  • Apply for certification in the state in which you are interested in working

These four steps sound simple enough, but as you can imagine it can take several years to move through all four of these. As long as you stay on the right path, continuing to do whatever you can to forge ahead, you will eventually reach your goal.

Additional Career Questions

When it comes to substance abuse counselor certification and licensing details, there is a lot that you need to be aware of. While we have covered this information above, here are some questions that you will want to ask and answer as you move forward:

  • Do I have the time, money, and resources to obtain the proper certification to ensure that I am in position in the future to secure the type of job I am most interested in?
  • Are there any opportunities for advancement or is there a salary cap? Despite the fact that you may be certified to work as a substance abuse counselor, it doesn’t mean you are going to start at the top of the field. You want to do whatever it takes to position yourself for advancement opportunities, which includes dedicating yourself to continuing education. Along with this, counselors who work in residential facilities and hospitals have a better chance of advancement, since there are likely to be multiple positions.
  • Are you comfortable with the salary range of a substance abuse counselor? This is a big question to answer, because you are going to put a lot of work into becoming certified to work in this capacity. When you know how much you can potentially earn it will paint a clearer picture of what your future entails.

Anybody who wants to work as a substance abuse counselor needs to become familiar with the certification and licensing process in their state. When you know what you are up against, it is easier to determine which steps to take next and the types of challenges you may run into along the way.

If working as a substance abuse counselor is something you have been considering, now is the time to decide once and for all if this career field is right for you.

One Response to Substance Abuse Counselor Certification and License

  1. One of the best ways to knock out all of those observation hours is to become a graduate assistant and take part in the counseling at the college or guide it yourself under supervision. Alternatively, if you can find a lower-paying counseling, residential treatment, or any other kind of therapy-related job, you can probably find someone higher up the ladder to guide you and sign off on your supervision hours.

    Katherine January 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm Reply

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