Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor

Before enrolling in a master’s degree program what is the applicant required to have?

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How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor

If you’re interested in learning how to become a substance abuse counselor, here we will learn about the education requirements, the substance abuse counselor training requirements, the type of substance abuse counselor salary you can earn depending on the work environment and the required clinical hours needed before you can take the counselor certification exam.

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Requirements

The substance abuse counselor job requirements will include the applicant having their high school diploma or equivalent, their bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree or having taken the substance abuse counselor certificate program in place of the master’s degree.  In order to work as a counselor in a private practice you will be required to have obtained a master’s degree with 3,000 to 4,000 hours of clinical hours that have been supervised.  After you have completed your education you will then need to take a state licensing exam and earn 20 hours of continuing education hours each year, in order to renew the substance abuse counselor license every three years.  substance abuse counselor career

In order to earn continuing education credits you can attend webinars, lectures, online study courses, online study exams or you can volunteer in this field under the supervision of a licensed substance abuse counselor. You can find information on each states continuing education and licensing requirements on the National Board for Certified Counselors website.

Where can a Substance Abuse Counselor Work?

As a counselor you can work in a private practice, homeless shelter, out-patient or in-patient treatment center, hospital or half-way house.

Working in a half-way house may require the counselor to live at the facility and be on-call 24 hours a day. This type of position will require the counselor to have three or more years of experience in the field. The supervisory position of the house director will involve counseling the patients on a one on one basis, closely monitoring patients for signs of relapse and working with the patients on their interviewing skills in order to prepare them for job interviews.

Working as a counselor at an in-patient treatment center will require the counselor to work in a hospital setting in the drug treatment unit. These units will commonly deal with patients that are suffering from drug or alcohol withdrawal. As a counselor you will lead group therapy sessions and provide one on one counseling to patient’s while also working on a substance abuse program that will meet their needs.

For those interested in finding out how to become a substance abuse counselor in a homeless shelter, the answer is by earning your degree and applying online or with government agencies you can find entry level employment.   Working in a homeless shelter will provide one of the lowest paying substance abuse counselor salaries but is often seen as one of the most rewarding environments to work in. As a counselor in a shelter you will assist clients with finding resources for food, housing and clothing while also being required to take careful documentation of each client in order to monitor their progress or look for signs of possible relapse.

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