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Helping others to overcome addiction is a noble career choice that offers opportunities to see your work change people’s lives. In southern California, it is necessary to comply with state regulations that demonstrate your competence before you can become an addiction counselor. If you have always wondered what it takes to become an addiction counselor, then here are the requirements that must be met before a person can be certified.

Earn a Degree

The first step toward becoming an addiction counselor is to obtain a degree in a Behavioral Science field that includes Addiction Counseling. The amount of time a person must go to school depends upon the level of certification that they are seeking. For example, someone seeking to become a Licensed Advanced Alcohol Drug Counselor (LAADC) must have completed a master’s level program. Courses in psychology, sociology and social work can also be applied to the educational requirements.

Complete a Practicum and Supervised Work Experience

During your educational experience, you will be provided with the opportunity to complete a practicum during which you can apply what you have learned under the guidance of a supervisor. Once this requirement has been met, then you will complete a specific amount of hours of supervised work experience before you are allowed to work with patients independently. These hours may range from zero to 10,000 depending upon your preferred level of certification.

Pass a Written Examination

In addition to the education and work experience, prospective counselors must pass the ICRC written exam. This exam must be administered at an approved testing center, and it consists of 150 questions. Pen and pencil tests are administered four times a year, and the computerized version is offered on demand. Once a passing score has been obtained, a person is then eligible to apply for their certification.

Finish the Application Process

After all of the conditions have been met, you can then submit your application along with all of the required documentation. A portfolio of your prior educational, work and testing history may also be reviewed. Two peer recommendation letters along with a recent photograph are also required as part of the application process.

As a counselor, it is important to establish trust with those who are struggling with addiction. For this reason, education and experience are the primary things required to become an addiction counselor in southern California. By meeting these requirements, you can begin a career that offers unlimited opportunities to help others make changes that lead to a healthier lifestyle.