Becoming a National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCC) is very rewarding for those who choose this career. The most common credential today is the National Association of Professional Alcoholism Examiners (NAPEA). However, there are several other professional bodies out there. For example, the National Council for Higher Education has a version known as the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). These two credentials take about 200 hours to complete.
Each of these credentialing bodies asks different questions on a background check and a series of personality tests. All three of these examinations, from the NAPEA and the National Council Licensure Examination, are nationally recognized. However, in order to receive certification as a member of any of these organizations, it is important to meet the following criteria:
Education: As mentioned above, the most common credential is that of a doctoral degree. In order to be considered a doctoral degree candidate, a candidate must complete at least one year of graduate-level study in psychology. The typical doctoral candidates spend a few years in an accredited program and then go on to teach for a year or two in an area of their choosing, in order to earn an advanced degree. After earning a doctorate degree, a candidate may choose to enter the professional practice of counseling. Some states require individuals to pass a certified mental health counselor examination in order to become a licensed mental health therapist. There are also some states who require a person to have at least six years of supervised clinical practice before they can become a licensed mental health counselor.
Experience: A person can earn either a master’s or a doctoral degree. Either way, a person must complete at least one year of specialized study in a related area. A master’s degree typically takes four years to complete. During this time, students will learn specific academic skills, as well as acquire the required clinical experience. A doctoral degree takes eight years to earn.
Accredited Programs: To be eligible to sit for the National Certification Board for Professional Addiction Counseling, a person needs to have completed a minimum of four years of specialized college courses and a minimum of two years of supervised clinical hours. The educational requirements for becoming a certified addiction counselor will vary by state. In most cases, a bachelor’s degree is required. In some states, a master’s degree is required as well. If a master is desired, then the student will need to earn at least three years in a related field, while the student attending college will need to earn four years of specialized coursework and clinical hours.
Licensing Process: Becoming a licensed addiction counselor requires completion of a doctorate degree. After graduation, graduates can apply for either national certification or regional licensure. Students applying for national licensure must first complete a licensure examination. Successful candidates will have to pay a fee of at least $6700, in addition to paying a significant fee to participate in continuing education units. These fees are usually paid over four years.
As a certified substance abuse counselor, it is important to maintain high levels of certification throughout your career. Your clients may require you to take special exams to obtain certain certifications. You should ensure that you continue to meet all of these requirements before you try to earn additional certifications.