Top 11 Addiction Counselor Certifications
This article provides an overview of the top certifications available for addiction counselors and how they can further their career.
Published 21 min read
Certifications are important for addiction counselors in the job market because they demonstrate to potential employers that an individual has the knowledge and skills necessary to work with individuals struggling with addiction. Certification also signals to employers that an individual is committed to professional development and staying up-to-date on best practices. Furthermore, certifications can help addiction counselors stand out from other job applicants who may not be as qualified or experienced. Finally, certifications can open up more career opportunities, such as higher-paying positions or roles at larger organizations.
The purpose of this article is to review some of the top certifications for Addiction Counselors and explain how they can help advance an addiction counselor's career.
What are Addiction Counselor Certifications?
Addiction counselor certification is a professional credential that demonstrates an individual has achieved a certain level of knowledge and competence in the field of addiction treatment. It is obtained by completing a comprehensive training program, passing a certification exam, and meeting other requirements set by the relevant state or professional organization. Addiction counselors certified through this process are qualified to provide assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for individuals struggling with substance use disorders and other addictive behaviors.
Certification provides recognition of an individual’s expertise in the field, as well as assurance that they adhere to ethical standards and best practices. This can be beneficial for both clients and employers, as it helps ensure that counselors are providing quality services. Certification also allows counselors to demonstrate their commitment to ongoing professional development and stay up-to-date on the latest research in addiction treatment. Ultimately, addiction counselor certification can help ensure that individuals receive the highest quality of care possible when seeking treatment for substance use disorders or other addictive behaviors.
Pro Tip: Obtaining certification as an addiction counselor can be a great way to increase your employability and open up new career opportunities. Before committing to a certification program, make sure to research the requirements for each type of certification, as well as any additional training or experience that may be necessary to become certified.
Related: What does an Addiction Counselor do?
Top 11 Addiction Counselor Certifications
Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Addiction Counselors today.
1. Certified Addiction Professional (CAP)
Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) is a certification for individuals who work in the addiction field. It is offered by the National Association of Addiction Professionals (NAADAC). CAP certification recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of professional knowledge and experience in the prevention, treatment, and recovery of substance use disorders.
It typically takes at least two years to become certified as a CAP. The process includes completing an accredited educational program, obtaining supervised fieldwork experience, and passing an examination. It also requires that applicants demonstrate ethical behavior and adhere to NAADAC’s Code of Ethics.
To get certified as a CAP, applicants must submit an application to NAADAC along with supporting documentation such as transcripts from their educational program, proof of supervised fieldwork experience, and payment of the application fee. Once approved, they must pass the certification exam which consists of 200 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as assessment and diagnosis, treatment planning and interventions, case management, ethics, and legal considerations.
The cost for becoming certified as a CAP varies depending on where you live; however it typically ranges from $200-$400 USD for the application fee plus additional fees for taking the exam.
2. Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)
A Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS) is a professional designation that recognizes the expertise of individuals who have achieved advanced training in clinical supervision. A CCS is an individual who has met the standards set forth by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) to demonstrate knowledge and skill in providing effective clinical supervision.
In order to become a CCS, individuals must complete a minimum of 30 hours of specialized training in clinical supervision, pass an examination administered by the NBCC, and provide evidence of at least two years of experience as a qualified supervisor. The NBCC also requires that applicants have completed at least 3,000 hours of post-master’s supervised practice prior to applying for certification.
The process to become a CCS typically takes about six months from start to finish. During this time, applicants must complete the required training and pass the exam administered by the NBCC. Once all requirements are satisfied, applicants will receive their certification from the NBCC.
The cost to become certified as a CCS varies depending on location and provider; however, it typically ranges from $500-$1,000 in total fees. This includes application fees, exam fees and any other related costs associated with becoming certified.
3. National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC I or II)
National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC I or II) is a professional certification for addiction counselors. It is administered by the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC). NCAC I is the entry-level certification, while NCAC II is the advanced level certification.
To become an NCAC I, applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent, complete 180 hours of approved education in addiction counseling and pass a written exam. To become an NCAC II, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences or related field, complete 240 hours of approved education in addiction counseling and pass a written exam.
The cost to take the exams varies depending on where you take them. Generally, it costs around $200-$250 to take either exam. You can find more information about taking the exams at NAADAC's website: https://www.naadac.org/certification/exam-process.
4. International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC)
The International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) is a certification program that provides credentialing for individuals who work in the field of alcohol and drug counseling. The IC&RC ADC credential is recognized by most states as the standard of excellence for addiction professionals.
In order to obtain the IC&RC ADC certification, applicants must meet certain education and experience requirements, pass an examination, and adhere to a code of ethics. Depending on the individual’s prior experience, it can take anywhere from six months to two years to complete all the necessary steps.
To get started, applicants must first submit an application packet that includes proof of education, experience, and references. After submitting this information, applicants will be asked to take an exam administered by their state or local IC&RC affiliate. Once they have passed the exam and met all other requirements, they will receive their IC&RC ADC certification.
The cost of obtaining the IC&RC ADC certification varies depending on where you are located. Generally speaking, it costs between $100-$200 for the application fee plus any additional fees associated with taking the exam or completing other requirements such as continuing education courses or workshops.
5. Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Professional (CCDP)
A Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Professional (CCDP) is a mental health professional who has been certified by the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) to have specialized knowledge and skills in the assessment and treatment of individuals with co-occurring disorders. These disorders, also known as dual diagnosis, are defined as having both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder.
The certification process takes approximately two years to complete. It requires applicants to take an online course, pass an exam, and complete an internship or practicum under the supervision of a qualified CCDP. The cost of the certification varies depending on the program chosen but typically ranges from $1,000-$2,000 USD.
To become certified, applicants must first meet certain eligibility requirements including being licensed or credentialed in their field (e.g., social worker, psychologist, etc.), having at least two years of experience working with individuals with co-occurring disorders, and completing at least 40 hours of continuing education related to co-occurring disorders within the past five years. After meeting these requirements, applicants can then register for the online course offered through IITAP which covers topics such as screening and assessment tools for diagnosing co-occurring disorders; treatment approaches for individuals with co-occurring disorders; ethical considerations when working with this population; cultural competency; crisis intervention strategies; and more.
Once they have completed the coursework, applicants must pass an exam in order to be officially certified as a CCDP. Upon successful completion of all requirements, applicants will receive their certificate from IITAP and will be listed in their directory of Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Professionals.
6. Master Addiction Counselor (MAC)
Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) is a professional designation offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The MAC credential recognizes counselors who have achieved advanced training and experience in addiction counseling. It is designed to recognize those who have demonstrated mastery of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for effective addiction counseling.
To obtain the MAC credential, applicants must meet all of the following requirements:
1. Have a master’s degree or higher in a behavioral science field from an accredited college or university.
2. Have at least three years of full-time paid experience as an addiction counselor within the last 10 years.
3. Have completed at least 45 hours of continuing education related to addiction counseling within the last five years.
4. Pass an NBCC-approved examination on addiction counseling principles and practices.
5. Submit two letters of recommendation from professionals familiar with your work as an addiction counselor.
6. Submit a written statement describing your professional goals and commitment to ethical practice in addiction counseling.
7. Complete a criminal background check conducted by NBCC or its designee(s).
8. Agree to abide by NBCC’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct for Addiction Counselors and any other applicable codes of ethics or standards of practice set forth by regulatory bodies or accrediting organizations with which you are affiliated as an addiction counselor practitioner/supervisor/educator/researcher/consultant/administrator/advocate/etc.).
9. Pay all applicable fees associated with applying for, taking, and maintaining certification as a Master Addiction Counselor (MAC).
The cost to apply for the MAC credential is $200 USD plus any applicable taxes or fees charged by NBCC or its designee(s). The cost of taking the examination is $225 USD plus any applicable taxes or fees charged by NBCC or its designee(s). The cost to maintain certification is $125 USD per year plus any applicable taxes or fees charged by NBCC or its designee(s).
Once all requirements have been met, it typically takes between 6-8 weeks for applicants to receive their MAC credentials from NBCC after submitting their application materials and passing their exam(s).
7. Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health Services Provider (LPC-MHSP)
A Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health Services Provider (LPC-MHSP) is a mental health professional who has obtained a license to practice counseling in the state in which they are located. This type of license is typically held by individuals who have completed a master’s degree in counseling or psychology, and have passed an exam administered by their state's licensing board. They may also be required to complete continuing education courses to maintain their license.
The amount of time it takes to obtain an LPC-MHSP license varies from state to state, but typically it can take anywhere from six months to two years. In order to become licensed, applicants must submit an application along with all necessary documentation such as transcripts, proof of education and experience, and a passing score on the licensing exam.
In order to get an LPC-MHSP license, applicants must first meet the educational requirements for their particular state. This usually involves obtaining a master’s degree in counseling or psychology from an accredited university or college. Applicants must also pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) administered by their state’s licensing board. Once these requirements are met, applicants can then apply for licensure with their respective state board.
The cost of obtaining an LPC-MHSP license varies depending on the state in which the applicant is located. Generally speaking, applicants should expect to pay fees for submitting applications, taking exams, and completing any other necessary paperwork or documentation that may be required by their particular state board. The total cost will depend on how much time it takes for the applicant to complete all of the steps necessary for licensure.
8. Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC)
A Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) is a professional mental health provider who specializes in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of substance use disorders. LADCs are certified by their state to provide counseling services to individuals struggling with addiction.
The requirements for becoming an LADC vary by state, but generally include a combination of education, supervised clinical experience, and passing an exam. Most states require applicants to have at least a master’s degree in psychology, social work, or counseling from an accredited college or university. Some states may also require applicants to have completed a specific number of hours of supervised clinical experience working with clients with substance use disorders. In addition, applicants must pass a state-approved exam in order to become licensed.
The cost of becoming an LADC varies depending on the state in which you are applying for licensure. Generally speaking, the cost includes fees for the application process, examination fees, and any required continuing education courses or workshops. In some cases, the cost may also include tuition for additional coursework or training needed to meet the requirements for licensure.
The amount of time it takes to become an LADC depends on several factors including the individual's educational background and experience level as well as the specific requirements set forth by their state licensing board. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from one year up to several years to complete all of the necessary steps required for licensure.
9. Board Certified Interventionist (BCI)
Board Certified Interventionist (BCI) is a professional credential that is earned by completing specialized training and passing an exam administered by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). The BCI credential recognizes professionals who are qualified to provide intervention services to individuals, families, and groups in crisis.
It typically takes about two years to become a BCI. During this time, applicants must complete at least 300 hours of supervised experience providing interventions. They must also take courses in areas such as substance abuse, family dynamics, mental health, and crisis management. After completing these requirements, they can then take the NBCC exam to become certified.
To get the BCI credential, applicants must first meet the education and experience requirements outlined by the NBCC. Once these are met, they can register for the exam through their website. Applicants will need to pay a fee for registration and testing materials.
The cost of becoming a Board Certified Interventionist varies depending on where you live and which program you choose to pursue your certification through. Generally speaking, it can range anywhere from $500-$2,000 or more depending on course fees, textbooks, and other materials needed for certification.
10. Certified Gambling Counselor/Addiction Specialist (CGCS/CAS)
A Certified Gambling Counselor/Addiction Specialist (CGCS/CAS) is a professional certification for individuals who specialize in the treatment and prevention of problem gambling and other addictive behaviors. This certification is offered by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).
In order to become certified, applicants must complete a minimum of 90 hours of specialized training in problem gambling counseling, addiction theory, and clinical practice. The training must be approved by the NCPG and include at least 30 hours of supervised clinical experience. Applicants must also pass an exam administered by the NCPG.
The cost of getting certified varies depending on the type of training program chosen. Most programs range from $500-$2,000. It typically takes between 6-12 months to complete all requirements for certification, although some people may take longer depending on their individual circumstances.
Once certified, CGCS/CAS professionals are qualified to provide assessment, diagnosis, treatment planning, counseling services and referral services for clients with problem gambling or other addictive behaviors. They are also able to provide education and prevention services related to problem gambling and addiction in general.
11. Association of Christian Recovery Specialists Certification Program in Addictions and Recovery Ministry
The Association of Christian Recovery Specialists Certification Program in Addictions and Recovery Ministry (ACRS) is a professional certification program designed to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide effective spiritual care for those struggling with addiction. The ACRS program is a two-year program that consists of three levels: Level One, Level Two, and Level Three.
Level One focuses on basic principles of addictions and recovery ministry, including understanding the disease model of addiction, identifying addiction triggers, developing an effective relapse prevention plan, and recognizing the importance of spirituality in recovery. This level requires 60 hours of coursework and can be completed in one year or less.
Level Two focuses on advanced topics such as counseling techniques for addiction recovery, crisis intervention strategies, family dynamics in addiction recovery, trauma-informed care for individuals affected by substance use disorders, and more. This level requires 120 hours of coursework and can be completed within one to two years.
Level Three focuses on clinical practice in addictions and recovery ministry. This includes case management skills, working with special populations (e.g., veterans), ethical considerations in addictions treatment, leading support groups for individuals affected by substance use disorders, etc. This level requires 180 hours of coursework and can be completed within two to three years.
To become certified through ACRS’s Addiction & Recovery Ministry Certification Program, applicants must complete all three levels of the program as well as pass a comprehensive written examination at each level. The cost for the entire program is approximately $2,000 USD (including tuition fees).
Do You Really Need a Addiction Counselor Certificate?
Whether or not you need an Addiction Counselor Certificate depends on the type of work you are pursuing and the requirements of your employer. An Addiction Counselor Certificate can provide a credential that demonstrates your knowledge, skills, and experience working with individuals who suffer from substance use disorder. Depending on the state in which you are employed, employers may require certification as a part of their hiring process.
There are several types of addiction counseling credentials available to those interested in this field. The most common is the Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) credential issued by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). This is a nationally-recognized certification that requires applicants to pass an exam and meet certain educational and experiential requirements. In addition, some states may have their own certifications or licensing programs for addiction counselors.
If you plan to work in an addiction treatment center or other clinical setting, it is likely that you will need to possess a state-issued license or certification in order to practice professionally. Even if it isn't required by your employer, having an Addiction Counselor Certificate can demonstrate your commitment to professional development and increase your chances of securing employment. Additionally, many employers prefer candidates who have obtained additional training or certifications beyond what is required for licensure.
Overall, whether or not you need an Addiction Counselor Certificate depends on your individual situation and the requirements of your employer. It may be beneficial to obtain additional training or certifications if they are applicable to the position you are applying for, as this will make you more competitive in the job market.
Related: Addiction Counselor Resume Examples
FAQs About Addiction Counselor Certifications
1. What certifications are required to become an addiction counselor?
Answer: The exact certifications required to become an addiction counselor vary by state, but typically include a master's degree in counseling or a related field, along with certification from the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC). Additional certifications may be required depending on the state and type of counseling being provided.
2. How long does it take to become certified as an addiction counselor?
Answer: The length of time it takes to become certified as an addiction counselor depends on the individual's educational and professional background, as well as their desired level of certification. Generally, it can take anywhere from six months to two years to complete the necessary coursework and obtain the necessary certification.
3. Is there a national certification for addiction counselors?
Answer: Yes, there is a national certification for addiction counselors offered through the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NCCAP). This certification requires applicants to hold a qualifying degree and have at least two years of supervised clinical experience in addiction-related fields.
4. What types of continuing education courses are available for addiction counselors?
Answer: Continuing education courses for addiction counselors vary widely and can cover topics such as substance abuse treatment, ethical considerations, mental health counseling, psychopharmacology, crisis intervention, and more. Many courses are offered online or through local universities or organizations specializing in addictions-related topics.
5. What is the difference between licensure and certification for addiction counselors?
Answer: Licensure is typically granted by states after meeting certain requirements set forth by that particular state’s board of licensure; whereas certification is typically granted by national organizations such as NAADAC or NCCAP after meeting specific requirements outlined by those organizations. Licensure provides legal recognition that allows individuals to practice within that particular state; whereas certification demonstrates proficiency in a certain specialty area within the profession but does not provide legal recognition or allow individuals to practice outside of their home state without additional licensure/certification requirements being met first.