To become certified as a drug or substance abuse counselor begin by reviewing and understanding the state's certification or licensing requirements. These vary by state, but typically include a minimum of a high school diploma, 125 hours of related training and one to two years experience with a treatment program.
Written examinations, a demonstrated understanding of core competencies and supervised clinical experience are among other typical state requirements.
Those with a related college degree, such as human services or psychology, are ready to pursue the required work experience. If lacking the basic educational requirements, enroll in one of many available online courses of study or in a drug or substance abuse counseling program at a local community college or university.
Seek related employment or volunteer opportunities consistent with what the state sets as minimum related work experience. Ask questions if the requirements are unclear. For example, if work experience is required, be sure to understand what type of positions and provider agencies are recognized by the state certification or licensing board.
There are also voluntary certifications available through the Association for Addiction Professionals and the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium. Credentials offered by these organizations and other training programs speak to one's professional training and competencies, but do not preclude the state's licensing and certification requirements.