How to Become a Drug & Alcohol Counselor in Pennsylvania

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In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics listed drug and alcohol counseling as a profession expected to grow much faster than average. Drug and alcohol counselors are employed in a variety of settings, such as residential treatment facilities, hospitals, private counseling agencies and government agencies. In 2008, the median salary of drug and alcohol counselors nationally was $37,030 per year, and drug and alcohol counselors in Pennsylvania reported earning wages slightly above the national average. The associate addiction counselor (AAC) is an entry-level drug and alcohol counseling credential in Pennsylvania.

  • Obtain 100 hours of college education, with 33 hours of that coursework being specific to drug and alcohol abuse. To become a drug and alcohol counselor in Pennsylvania, the learning institution you attend must be accredited in the state.

  • Secure employment in a facility that handles drug and alcohol addictions. According to the Pennsylvania Certification Board, you need one year of employment in an addictions facility, including 100 hours of documented supervision, to be eligible for credentialing. Work experience must be paid; volunteer hours cannot substitute for the paid experience requirement.

  • Complete an application for the associate addiction counselor, level 1 credential. The application can be downloaded from the Pennsylvania Certification Board. You must pay a $100 fee with the completed application.

Tips & Warnings

  • The initial associate addiction counselor level 1 credential expires one year from the date of award. You may apply for renewal of the level 1 designation in one year. With further work experience and training, you may apply for the level 2 designation, which is valid for two years and is renewable.

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  • Photo Credit drug abuse image by Keith Frith from Fotolia.com
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