When a patient enters rehab, they can’t get clean alone. Instead, they rely on the expertise and guidance of doctors, nurses, therapists, psychiatrists, substance abuse counselors, and other talented staff members. Only through a combination of these people can a patient withdraw safely and learn real tactics for coping with sober life.
Are you interested in making a difference in the lives of many? Do you want to become a substance abuse counselor? Before you can make that happen, you need your drug and alcohol counselor certification. How do you get it, though? Here’s how you can get started on your road to changing lives today.
Consider Furthering Your Education
If you’ve yet to earn your college degree, keep studying. An associate’s degree is generally unacceptable if trying to become a substance abuse counselor. A bachelor’s degree is the baseline degree accepted for most of these counseling jobs. If you’ve studied counseling, psychology, or related fields, this will benefit you. If you haven’t, you can still get a job in this field, but it may be more difficult.
Ideally, if you have a master’s degree or even your Ph.D., you’ll be an incredibly impressive candidate to most drug rehab facilities looking to hire substance abuse counselors. Again, it helps if these degrees are in the above fields.
Earn Your Certification
Of course, while a degree is necessary, what a rehab facility hiring manager is really looking for in a substance abuse counselor is certifications. The Association for Addiction Professionals or NAADAC provides a variety of certifications through the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals or NCC AP.
Just some of the available certifications through the NCC AP include the National Peer Recovery Support Specialist or NCPRSS, the National Endorsed Co-Occurring Disorders Professional or NECODP, the National Clinical Supervision Endorsement or NCSE, the National Endorsed Student Assistance Professional or NESAP, the National Certified Adolescent Addiction Counselor or NCAAC, and the Nicotine Dependence Specialist or NDS.
Of course, for those who want to work as a substance abuse counselor, they will focus on the National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level I or NCAC I. To earn this certification, you need at least a GED, 270 training hours, 6,000 working hours as a counselor, and a counseling license or credential.
After receiving your NCAC I, you can then move on to get your National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level II or NCAC II. To earn this certification, you need an NCAC I, at least a bachelor’s degree, 450 or more additional training hours, 10,000 additional working hours as a counselor, and a counseling license or credential.
At this point, you have the opportunity to get a Master Addiction Counselor or MAC certification. That said, it takes a lot to get there. It’s recommended you have a master’s degree in psychology, mental health counseling, social work, and/or counseling. You must take the MAC examination and do well. You need the NCAC I and NCAC II certifications. You need 500 additional training hours. You also need 6,000 additional working hours as a substance abuse counselor. Lastly, you need a license or credential.
Okay, so how do you begin earning these certifications? Do you have to enroll at a school? Not always. It’s possible to get the education needed for these certifications online. That said, you do still need to be present at a rehab facility to train, learn, and gain real experience. To get started, you can join the NAADAC as a member online right through its website. You can also read more about all of the above-mentioned certifications to figure out which one to start with.
As a substance abuse counselor, your job will not always be easy, but it will always be rewarding. This is a promising career path where you will help people each and every day you walk into work.