How Do You Become a Substance Abuse Counselor?


Quick Answer

To become a substance abuse counselor, obtain at least a high school diploma, although some work requires up to a master's degree. If you practice privately, you must be licensed and have a master's degree.

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Full Answer

  1. Obtain the necessary education

    Get at least a high school degree. If you are interested in private practice, look at the requirements of the state in which you want to practice. Aim for a master's degree if you wish to work without supervision and to provide comprehensive client services. With a high school diploma, some of your education entails training on the job. You learn how to address a crisis and how to deal with people who have addictions.

  2. Apply for jobs

    Network and apply for jobs, such as house manager and case manager in residential programs. High school degrees usually suffice for those positions. Even if you want more education, those jobs give you a background while you complete additional schooling.

  3. Get licensed

    Get licensed for private practice work. Check your state requirements through the National Board for Certified Counselors, but at a minimum, you must have a master's degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical work. You also must pass a test and do continuing education. If you do not plan to work in private practice, also check state requirements through the Addiction Technology Transfer Center. Some states mandate specific degrees, while passing a test suffices for other states.

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