According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania has the third highest employment level in the country for addiction treatment counselors.1 Job openings for working as a behavioral disorder or addiction treatment counselor are expected to increase 22 percent from 2014 to 2024, much quicker than the average for most occupations.
Employment as an addiction treatment counselor in Pennsylvania is regulated by state laws. You can qualify to work as an addiction treatment counselor in Pennsylvania based on your education and experience, or by achieving certification from an accepted certifying body.
Education and Experience Requirements
You’ll be eligible to work as an addiction treatment counselor if you have a relevant college degree. Your degree level determines the number of hours at a human service agency needed to qualify as an addiction treatment counselor in Pennsylvania:2
Associate’s degree: minimum 3,640 hours
Bachelor’s degree: minimum 1,820 hours
Master’s degree: practical course hours may meet the requirement
If your human service experience wasn’t in an alcohol or drug abuse counseling environment, you’ll be required to complete a training program to make up any differences. Many counselors go on to obtain a certification.
Substance Abuse Counselor Certifications
Pennsylvania state law has established that you can become fully qualified as a substance abuse counselor based on certification through a state certifying body. The state certifying body must hold membership in the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium.
The Pennsylvania Certification Board provides the following substance abuse counselor certifications: CAAC, CADC and CAADC.3
Certified Associate Addiction Counselor (CAAC)
You can become an addiction treatment counselor in Pennsylvania with a CAAC certification if you have a high school diploma or GED, as well as 300 hours of education related to addiction counseling. To be eligible for certification, you’ll need to have worked 6,000 hours as a substance abuse counselor within the last seven years, with 300 hours of supervision, and you also must currently hold a job within the field. You can sit for the IC&RC exam for alcohol and drug counselors once you’ve met all the requirements.
Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC)
The CADC is for those who have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. You’re also required to have 300 hours of related education. You’ll need to have 4,000 hours of substance abuse counseling experience, with 200 hours of supervision. The CADC exam is the same as for a CAAC.
Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC)
To certify as a CAADC, you must hold a graduate degree from an accredited college, and your education must include 180 hours related to substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders. When you hold a master’s degree, you can qualify for CAADC status with 2,000 hours of experience, with 100 hours of supervision. CAADC candidates are required to pass the IC&RC exam for advanced alcohol and drug counselors.
More Info on Becoming an Addiction Treatment Counselor in Pennsylvania