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Drug Counselor Certification Programs with Career Information

Read about programs designed to help drug counselors prepare for certification in the field. Find out where these programs are offered, what is required to enroll in them and what course topics are addressed. Get salary and employment rate information for drug counselors.

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Essential Information

Drug counselor certification programs prepare individuals who are already working as drug counselors to take state or national certification examinations. Prerequisites for certification programs may include degrees or a certain number of years of related work experience. Drug counselor certification programs are administered through colleges or certification boards. Some national certification boards include the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, the International Certification Reciprocity Consortium and the Association for Addiction Professionals.

Certification examinations are available for different levels of education and experience. For example, some associate's degree programs qualify graduates for a level one certification examination. There are also certifications for counselors who have a bachelor's degree or a master's degree and significantly more work experience.

Educational Prerequisites

The educational prerequisites vary depending upon the type of certification the individual is seeking. A counselor seeking level one certification may only require an associate's degree in a health or human services field and three years' work experience. A level two National Certified Addiction Counselor candidate must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, a current state certificate or license and five years of work experience, according to the Association for Addiction Professionals. The association also maintains that a Master Addiction Counselor candidate must have a master's degree in counseling, family therapy, psychology or social work, a current state certificate or license and three years of supervised post-master's degree work experience.

Program Coursework

In a typical 1-year drug counselor certification preparatory program, students take the following courses:

  • Drug counseling case management
  • Drug counseling theories
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Drug addiction treatment methods
  • Drug abuse and addiction
  • Group counseling practices
  • Biology of drug addiction
  • Family dynamics
  • Individual counseling techniques
  • HIV, TB and other infectious diseases

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,, the job outlook for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors is expected to grow faster than average from 2010-2020. The organization credits this job growth to an enlightened society in which people are more likely to seek treatment. These counselors earned an average annual salary of $40,920 in May 2012, according to the BLS.

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