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A State by State Guide to Addictions Professional Requirements

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Addiction Counselor Requirements in Florida

Florida licenses substance abuse providers, including receiving facilities and treatment facilities. Employees are not necessarily licensed. The state does set some standards for individuals who work at facilities, for example, that they must be fingerprinted if they will work with juveniles or developmentally disabled adults. The state also defines "qualified professional" as it relates to substance abuse practice.

Florida addiction counselors may seek third party certification through the Florida Certification Board, a member board of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium, an organization that has member boards in most states and a number of foreign nations. The FCB offers standard and specialty addiction credentials. The distinction between Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) and Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) is based primarily on educational level. Both credentials require education and supervised experience.

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Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) Requirements

An individual may achieve CAC status with a high school diploma or GED (http://flcertificationboard.org/certifications/certified-addiction-counselor-cac/). The FCB describes the CAC as an “intermediate credential” and notes that is potentially reciprocal. Some additional requirements are imposed.

Addictions Education: A candidate seeking the Florida CAC must have at least 250 hours of training relevant to the job role. Education must include at least 60 hours each in 1) understanding addictions and treatment and 2) professional readiness/ application to practice. The certification board notes that a candidate seeking international certification will need an additional ten hours in each of these two domains. Professional readiness curriculum must include two hours of domestic violence training and four hours of HIV/AIDS, regardless.

The other 130 hours must be distributed in the following manner:

Experience: The experience requirement is 6,000 hours for a trainee with education at the high school level, 4,000 for one with an associate or vocational degree. The supervision requirement is 300 hours for a non-degreed trainee, 150 hours for one with a degree.

Examination: Candidates must pass the Florida Certified Addiction Counselor Exam. Those who seek the IC&RC credential must also pass the IC&RC examination.

Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) Requirements

Education: To be eligible for the CAP credential, one must hold a bachelor's degree; any field is acceptable (http://flcertificationboard.org/wp-content/uploads/CAP-Application-March-2014.pdf). A candidate will need 350 hours of content-specific education and training. This can take a variety of forms. Conference break-out and plenary sessions may be credited. A three semester hour university course is considered the equivalent of 45 hours. The FCB has provided a list of training topics that relate to particular performance domains; this can be found in the candidate handbook. Hours are to be distributed as follows:

Experience: The candidate will need 6,000 hours of work experience. In the case of a candidate who has a graduate degree in a related field (human services, psychology, social work, or mental health or family counseling), the experience requirement is reduced to 4,000 hours. The supervision requirement is 300 hours unless the candidate has a related graduate degree; in this case, the requirement will be reduced to 200 hours. The supervisee will need at least 20 hours in each of seven identified performance domains. Supervision must be provided by a qualified supervisor (a professional who is certified as a supervisor or meets the requirements of Florida statute).

Examination: Candidates must take the Florida Certified Addiction Professional Exam. Candidates who desire international reciprocity through the IC&RC must take the IC&RC ADC Exam.

The Application Process

Candidates apply after education and experience requirements have been met. They may submit their applications online or through the mail (http://flcertificationboard.org/certification/certification-process/). Online submission is preferred. There is a $25 charge for mailed applications; this is in addition to the standard $150 application fee. The FCB does recommend that candidates print a hard copy for reference.

Candidates who are applying on the basis of college education will need to request official transcripts. The certification board will allow candidates with high school diplomas or GEDs to supply documentation directly; an unofficial college transcript may also be accepted as evidence that a candidate has met the requirement for education at the high school level. Candidates must include documentation of content-specific training in the manner described in the candidate bulletin. If training event documentation does not include all information required by the FCB, candidates should contact providers and request that they furnish letters on official letterhead. If the title does not adequately reflect course content, an agenda, syllabus, or official description should be included in the application packet.

Candidates will need to request additional third party documents. The qualified supervisor will provide supervision verification; required employment-based documentation will be maintained in case of audit. Three professionals will submit recommendations to the certification board.

Candidates must provide information about any criminal history. An individual who has a criminal history must be free of sanctions for at least three years. Generally speaking, it is necessary that candidates be free of felony convictions. However, the certification board may review the crime. If a non-felony crime is considered to be a crime against persons, the certification board may also carry out a review, even if the situation was resolved in the more distant past. Candidates may request a review before applying for certification. There is a $50 fee. The FCB conducts random background checks.

After the FCB approves the application, the candidate will be allowed to schedule the required examination. The FCB will notify the testing company. The testing company will then contact the candidate. Examinations are computer-delivered and available at multiple sites. Candidates are allowed to select test dates.

There is a $100 fee for the Florida examination. CAP and CAC candidates who are seeking IC&RC certification will pay an additional $185 testing fee. Candidates should not pay examination fees until such time as they are authorized to test. A candidate who needs to retake either examination will pay the full fee again.

Candidates are expected to meet certification requirements within 12 months of application receipt.

Additional Certifications Offered by the Florida Certification Board

The FCB offers the following addiction-related credentials: Certified E-therapist (CET), Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist (CTTS), Certified Gambling Addiction Counselor (CGAC), and Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS). Certifications in prevention, criminal justice, and other human service/ mental health fields are also available.

Additional Information

The Florida Certification Board (http://flcertificationboard.org/) can be reached at 850-222-6314. Applicants are invited to call with questions.