California Addiction Counselor Certification Requirements

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The need for substance abuse counselors in California will increase by more than 14 percent from 2008 through 2018, creating approximately 1,400 new jobs during that time frame, according to the California Employment Development Department. Addiction counselors in California have the option to pursue voluntary certifications from the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. The association offers four primary types of counselor certification, each of which has its own requirements.

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Associate

  • The basic professional level of addiction counselor certification in California is the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Associate credential. To qualify for this designation, applicants must have 315 hours of state-approved training in addiction counseling. In addition, they must complete a supervised internship that lasts at least 225 hours. Candidates must submit proof of this training plus two letters of recommendation to the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. The association reviews the information and then approves candidates for the written examination necessary to gain the CADCA credential.

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor I

  • The Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor I is the second level of addiction counselor certification in California. To qualify for the credential, substance abuse counselors must already have earned the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Associate credential. In addition, they must accrue 4,000 hours of work experience in addiction counseling. Applicants who meet these minimum standards take an oral examination through the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors to gain the CADC I credentials. Substance abuse counselors who have certifications issued from another state can automatically qualify for the CADC I credential, provided they have 4,000 hours of previous work experience in addiction counseling.

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II

  • After earning the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor I designation, counselors can continue their professional development by pursuing the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II credential. To qualify, applicants need 6,000 hours of total work experience in addiction counseling and an unexpired CADC I designation. Experience completed for the previous certifications can count toward this 6,000 hours. Substance abuse counselors who have certifications issued from another state can automatically qualify for the CADC II credential, provided they have 6,000 hours of previous work experience in addiction counseling.

Certified Criminal Justice Addiction Professional

  • The Certified Criminal Justice Addiction Professional credential is for professionals who work with individuals convicted of drug and alcohol-related crimes. In California, this type of certification requires applicants to have a combination of work and educational experience. Applicants with only a high school diploma or GED must have 6,000 hours of counseling experience, while those with an associate degree need 5,000 hours. A bachelor's degree requires 4,000 hours of counseling experience, while master's degree recipients need only 2,000 hours. For any type of degree above a master's, only 1,000 hours of experience is necessary. All applicants must have 270 hours of state-approved training in substance abuse counseling in addition to their degrees. A written examination is necessary for the CCJAP certification.

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