The requirements for becoming a certified addictions counselor vary by state. In my home state of Florida, the site which provides licensing qualifications can be found at: http://www.counselor-license.com/become-a-substance-abuse-counselor/florida-substance-abuse-counselor.html. This site, which is called “The Counselor Licensure Process in Florida,” provides information about how to become certified in various types of counseling specialties, including drug and alcohol counseling.
Where I Currently Am in the Certification Process
I am currently in my third year of college, pursuing my bachelor’s degree. In Florida, a candidate for certification must have the minimum of a completed bachelor’s degree in a psychology- or counseling-related major before they can apply for certification (Counselor-License, 2017). Therefore, I am not currently qualified to pursue certification in addictions counseling. While I am in college, I am taking courses in drug and alcohol abuse and addiction counseling, which will be taken into consideration, along with my chosen major, when I apply for certification. I plan to apply for certification upon completion of my bachelor’s degree. I then hope to continue my education and obtain a Master’s degree in drug and alcohol addictions counseling.

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What I Am Qualified to Do Now and When I Complete my Bachelor’s Degree
While I might be able to work in an addictions counseling facility in some capacity other than as a counselor at this point in my education, following the completion of my bachelor’s degree, I will be eligible in Florida to pursue certification. The bachelor’s level addictions certification in Florida is the Certified Addictions Professional certification (CAP). Florida also offers a Master’s level certification, which I plan to pursue after I receive my bachelor’s degree. However, in Florida, after I receive a recognized certification and my bachelor’s degree, I will be qualified to be a counselor in a licensed addictions facility (Counselor-License, 2017). In Florida, substance abuse facilities are licensed by the Substance Abuse Program Office of the Florida Department of Children and Families, but counselors receive their certification through a third-party organization (Counselor-License, 2017).

The Highest Credential in Florida and How to Earn It
The highest credential for substance abuse and addictions counselors is the Master’s Certified Addictions Professional certification (MCAP) (Counselor-License, 2017). In order to qualify for this certification, a candidate must hold a Master’s degree in a qualified major, such as psychology, counseling, or social work (Counselor-License, 2017). While the range of majors which will be considered for MCAP certification is more narrow than that for bachelor’s level certification, a person who holds a Master’s degree in a non-psychology field that they consider to be related to addictions or substance abuse counseling can apply for consideration for an equivalency review (Counselor-License, 2017).

A person seeking the MCAP can either fulfill certification requirements following receiving a Master’s degree, or if they already hold a bachelor’s level CAP, she can upgrade her certification to a MCAP with fewer certification requirements (Counselor-License, 2017).

The Certification Process
The information for applying for both the CAP and MCAP certifications can be found at: http://flcertificationboard.org/certification/available-certifications/. The candidate must pay a fee and undergo a background check. They must also submit three references of a professional nature. They must have a clean criminal record for three years prior to applying, and certain crimes might disqualify them for consideration if they were committed over three years prior to applying for certification (Counselor-License, 2017). If a person who is certified with a CAP and plans to apply for a MCAP certification upon completion of her Master’s degree, her certification must be kept current throughout her continuing education in order for her to qualify to upgrade her certification to a MCAP (Counselor-License, 2017).

    References
  • Substance abuse counselor certification in Florida. (2017). Counselor-License. Retrieved from: http://www.counselor-license.com/become-a-substance-abuse-counselor/florida-substance-abuse-counselor.html