Recent estimates suggest that over 20 million people have a drug or alcohol addiction problem.
There is a clear need for qualified counselors to help those struggling with addiction.
Are you interested in becoming a drug counselor, but confused where to start or what you need to do? Don’t worry. Keep reading below for four helpful tips on how to start a career in this important field.
1. Complete an Accredited Counseling Degree
Specific requirements vary state to state. But one very important tip to become a drug counselor is to complete the necessary education.
Depending on your state, you may only need a two-year associate’s degree. A Bachelor’s degree will take longer to complete, but you will have a greater understanding of pertinent issues.
A Bachelor’s degree is a good starting point, but if you complete a master’s degree, you will have more job opportunities. Master degrees also require supervised hours.
Examples of classes you will likely take include counseling theory and substance abuse models. If you go to graduate school you will have more advanced classes like psychotherapy and pharmacology.
If costs of education concern you, research ways to secure a loan in order to help you pay for the required classes.
2. Work Under Supervision for Experience
In any position that requires a licensed drug counselor, you will also need to complete a certain amount of supervised clinical hours.
This can range between states and programs, but often is around 2,000 hours. This type of experience will allow you to connect information you learned in a classroom to real-world clients.
3. Pass All Required Background Checks
In order to start a career as a drug counselor, you must agree to and pass various background checks. It is not uncommon for your driving and education records to be checked when applying for jobs.
Employers will also verify you have all proper certifications and licenses. If you will be working with children, you will need to pass a child abuse and neglect background check.
Fingerprinting is common in some states. For example, California requires anyone applying for licensure to be fingerprinted.
4. Pass an Exam for Licensing or Certification
One last tip for becoming a drug counselor? Prepare for your licensing exam. This is a need for anyone hoping to practice in the mental health and addiction field.
Seek out state licensing board requirements to ensure you’ve completed everything you need to sit down and take the exam. This may include verification of your education and practical experience.
Once you complete your exams or certifications, you can begin working as a drug counselor. You will be able to refer clients to regarded treatment programs when needed such as recoveryinmotion.com.
Time to Start a Career
Now you have a few helpful tips on how to begin a career as a drug counselor. You are ready to work towards your goal of helping people.
Think you may want to open your own practice once you finish all the requirements? Be sure to check out some tips on opening an addiction recovery center.