Substance Abuse Counselor Certification Requirements in the State of Florida

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The need for substance abuse and behavioral counselors in Florida will increase by more than 15 percent from 2010 through 2019, predicts the State of Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation. Although a license is not necessary to work as a substance abuse counselor in Florida, professionals in the field can choose to pursue voluntary credentialing through The Florida Certification Board. Three levels of substance abuse certification are available from the board, each with its own specific eligibility requirements.

Certified Addiction Specialist

The Certified Addiction Specialist requires substance abuse counselors to have a minimum 2,000 hours of experience working in the addiction field. No specific degree is necessary for the credential, but applicants have at least 150 hours of training. At least 70 hours of this training is allocated to eight professional practice dimensions: evaluation, treatment planning, referrals, service coordination, counseling, client and family education, documentation and ethics. A minimum of 74 hours must deal with understanding addiction and professional readiness. Six hours of training in HIV and domestic violence are also mandatory. Applicants must also undergo 100 hours of supervised practice and submit three letters of recommendation. Eligible candidates must take and pass a test called the Florida Specific Examination.

Certified Addiction Counselor

The Certified Addiction Counselor designation requires a minimum of a high school diploma or GED and 6,000 hours of experience and 300 hours of documented supervision in the addiction field. Applicants who have an associate degree or higher need only 4,000 hours of experience and 150 hours of documented supervision. CACs need 250 hours of training related to substance abuse counseling. At least 130 hours must relate to the eight professional practice dimensions necessary for CAS certification, and an additional 114 hours must deal with understanding addiction and professional readiness. Six hours of domestic violence and HIV training are also required. Like those for CAS certification, Certified Addiction Counselor applicants must pass the Florida Specific Exam and provide three letters of recommendation.

Certified Addiction Professional

A minimum of a bachelor's degree is necessary to earn the Certified Addiction Professional designation in Florida. Baccalaureate degree recipients need 6,000 hours of work experience, 300 hours of which must include direct supervision. Applicants who possess master's degrees require only 4,000 hours of work experience with 200 hours of supervision. All CAP applicants must demonstrate 350 hours of professional training in substance abuse counseling. This training must consist of 190 hours on the eight professional practice dimensions, 154 hours on understanding addiction and professional readiness and six hours on HIV and domestic violence. Three letters of recommendation are necessary. The CAP level of certification requires candidates to pass the IC&RC Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor written examination in addition to the Florida Specific Exam.


Once issued, all three Florida substance abuse counseling certifications remain valid for one year. Prior to the expiration of their credentials, certified professionals must complete continuing education coursework to renew their certifications. Certified Addiction Specialists require 10 hours of continuing education coursework during each certification cycle while Certified Addiction Counselors and Professionals need 20 hours. Professionals must also submit a renewal application to maintain their credentials.

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