The Substance Abuse Counselor Training and Career Center


Welcome! You have arrived at the Substance Abuse Counselor Headquarters! Here you will find all the information you need for a career as a substance abuse counselor, including training, education requirements, qualifications needed for licensure and certification, and more! The Substance Abuse Counselor Headquarters will help you obtain the knowledge and skills needed to get where you want to be… fast!

Substance Abuse Counselor Training

If you’re looking into how to receive the appropriate substance abuse counselor training, you may find out that this is more confusing than it sounds.  This is because substance abuse counselor training is ongoing so the type of training you need as a new substance abuse counselor will be completely different than if you have been in the field for some time and are just trying to complete the minimum amount of training to meet your renewal requirements.  No matter where you are in your career, Substance Abuse Counselor HeadQuarters is the place to find all your information on substance abuse counselor training in one convenient location!

Substance Abuse Counselor Training Overview

substance abuse counselor trainingGetting the right amount of training is a crucial aspect of being a substance abuse counselor, whether you’re in the process of becoming one or have been one for many years.  The first and most important thing to look for when searching for the type of substance abuse counselor training you need is how many units or hours you will need.

Generally, someone looking to become an entry-level substance abuse counselor would need about 150 hours of formal education and 1 year of clinical experience in order to complete the amount of substance abuse counselor training that is required to become certified.  Someone wanting to become a master’s-level substance abuse counselor, on the other hand, should have 450 hours of formal education, 3 years of clinical experience, and a master’s degree.  Another option might be someone looking to become a licensed substance abuse counselor. If this sounds more like you, the required amount of substance abuse counselor training would be 270 hours of formal education and 6,000 hours of clinically supervised experience. Finally, even after you become certified or licensed you will still need a minimum 40 CEUs (continuing education units) of substance abuse counselor training in order to maintain licensure or certification.

Formal Substance Abuse Counselor Training

The next question you should ask when planning your substance abuse counselor training is, “What exactly is ‘formal education’ anyway?”  This is an important question in your planning because if you don’t have the right type of education, you will not be able to become certified or licensed as a substance abuse counselor.  “Formal education” is defined as classroom training (like college credits) and is measured by contact hour not the number of credits.  For example, if you took a 3-credit hour course it would be worth approximately 45 hours of formal education because you were in the classroom for 45 hours.  If you are looking for approved formal education for your training, see our page on substance abuse counselor education for more details.

Continuing education credits are classes, seminars, conferences or approved webinars that you are required to have in order to maintain proper licensure or certification.  This type of substance abuse counselor training must always include a course or lecture in each of the 12 core functions of a substance abuse counselor in order to maintain proper licensure or certification. For more information on continuing education you can visit our education page.

The last requirement for proper substance abuse counselor training is clinical experience. Clinical experience can be either paid or unpaid internships, current and past job placements or volunteer work at a facility that deals with substance abuse. You can only count the hours you actually worked not the number of total hours you were employed.  Supervised clinical experience is the experience you have that was under the direct supervision of someone who has been licensed for a minimum of 5 years.  If there is no one at your facility that meets these qualifications, you may have to hire someone to meet with you every week for supervision in order to make sure you have the proper training.

If you follow these guidelines you should meet the substance abuse counselor training guidelines for most programs and renewals.

Other related topics:

Becoming a licensed substance abuse counselor
Becoming a certified substance abuse counselor
Substance abuse counselor education requirements

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