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Substance Abuse Counselor Requirements in Missouri

Missouri does not certify substance abuse professionals directly. However, there are policies in place for hiring; frequently referenced is certification from a third party certification board.

While requirements set by the Office of Administration/ Division of Personnel may not be mandatory in all instances, they provide a guideline. An individual may be hired as a Substance Abuse Counselor Assistant I or II or a Substance Abuse Counselor I, II, or II. Professionals can meet minimum education and/ or experience requirements to enter at a particular level or they can work their way up to that level by experience at a lower level. They can demonstrate requirements to enter the system as a counselor by presenting a qualifying certification issued by the Missouri Substance Abuse Professional Credentialing Board (MSAPCB). MSAPCB is an IC&RC member board.

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Substance Abuse Counselor I Standards

An individual may achieve Substance Abuse Counselor I with a bachelor's from an accredited institution and fifteen semester hours of coursework drawn from the following (or closely related) fields: counseling, criminal justice, nursing, rehabilitation, psychology, sociology, or social work (http://content.oa.mo.gov/personnel/classification-specifications/4493).

If the candidate has experience providing related services (for example, registered nursing or corrections casework), this may make up for educational deficiencies.

An individual is also eligible for this job classification with a certification through MSAPCB at the Recognized Associate Substance Abuse Counselor II (RASAC II) level or higher (http://content.oa.mo.gov/personnel/classification-specifications/4493). An individual with a qualifying degree at the bachelor's level or higher can achieve RASAC II with no experience; an individual with a lower education level will need experience (http://www.msapcb.com/careerladder.pdf). An individual with education below the bachelor’s level will also need 90 hours of education pertinent to the substance abuse counseling job role.

In addition to standard substance abuse counselor and drug/ alcohol counselor certifications, the hiring agency may accept the Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Professional (CCJP) certification.

Substance Abuse Counselor II Standards

To begin as a Substance Abuse Counselor II, one would need both a year of experience and a bachelor's degree with 15 or more semester hours of related coursework. Again, experience that went beyond the minimum could substitute for educational deficiencies. Education can also substitute for experience; a candidate would need 24 semester hours of coursework beyond that normally required for the classification.

Certification at the Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor (CADC) level or higher may be used to demonstrate qualifications. The CADC requires some work experience. For an addiction counselor with a master's, the requirement is 1,000 hours (the equivalent of half a full-time year). For an addiction counselor with a bachelor's, the requirement is 2,000 hours. The requirement goes up to 3,000 for candidates with associate’s degrees and 4,000 for those with no related degree. At the CADC level, examination is required.

Substance Abuse Counselor III Standards

A substance abuse counselor III would need a bachelor’s, fifteen semester hours of related coursework, and two years of experience. Again substitutions are allowable.

Credentialing at the Certified Reciprocal Alcohol Drug Counselor (CRADC) level or higher is considered qualifying. The CRADC credential will require at least 2,000 hours of experience, even for a substance abuse counselor with a master’s degree (http://www.msapcb.com/careerladder.pdf). With a bachelor’s, the requirement is 4,000 hours. With an associate’s degree, the requirement is 5,000 hours; with no applicable degree, it becomes 6,000. CRADC candidates take the IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor Examination.

MSAPCB Certification Basics

The Missouri Substance Abuse Professional Credentialing Board offers a number of alcohol and drug abuse credentials. Many are reciprocal with other IC & RC boards around the nation; an exception is lower level credentials like the RASAC and CADC. Reciprocal level credentials require varying amounts of experience. Internships and volunteer work are both creditable if they meet MSAPCB standards. A volunteer must perform duties comparable to those of an employee.

Academic degrees are not a requirement for most certifications. However, candidates who hold academic degrees in relevant areas can often achieve certification more quickly. The Missouri Substance Abuse Professional Credentialing Board recognizes the following fields: applied behavioral science, art therapy, chemical dependency, counseling, criminal justice, family therapy, human services, nursing, psychology, social work, and sociology (http://www.msapcb.com/careerladder.pdf). A similar degree with a different title may be accepted. Candidates may call 573-751-9211 if unsure whether they have a qualifying degree. Degrees must be from institutions that are appropriately accredited and can be found in the U.S. Department of Education database (http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation).

The Certified Reciprocal Advanced Alcohol Drug Counselor (CRAADC) credential is available only to master’s degree holders who have completed human services/ behavioral science programs that include clinical application. The credential can be obtained after as little as 2,000 hours of practice.

CADC, CRADC, and CRAADC credentials require 300 hours of practicum. Candidates for certification at any of these levels must provide a case study as part of the application process. Certification candidates below this level work under supervisor agreements.

Most certifications require a set number of education hours relevant to the job role. Generally speaking, online courses are acceptable if they are from MSAPCB-approved providers (http://www.msapcb.com/faq.pdf). Candidates are, however, required to do their ethics training live. Three to six hours of ethics may be required, depending on the certification sought.

MSAPCB offers various specialty credentials, including Co-Occurring Disorders Professional (CCDP). In order to be a CCDP, one needs at least a bachelor’s degree.

The MSAPCB Application Process

Application materials for professional certification can be found on the MSAPCB site (http://www.msapcb.com/rasac2app.html). They may be downloaded in Adobe or Word format. The application includes Family Care Safety Registry registration/ background release authorization materials.

Additional supporting documents will be required. Transcripts should be sent straight to MSAPCB from the issuing institution. (MSAPCB suggests that this step be carried out two or three weeks in advance of application.)

A candidate who is beyond the entry-level must provide a supervisor competency rating. Competency ratings and practicum and experience verification should also be sent straight to the certification board from the professionals who complete them.

The RASAC application costs $110 (http://www.msapcb.com/feeschedule13.pdf). Candidates for CADC, CRADC, CRAADC, CCJP, or CCDP/CCDP-D pay a $400 fee that includes testing. Fees are lower for candidates upgrading from one level to another. The required fee must be included even if it is being paid by a third party.

Application materials must be mailed to the Jefferson City address.

Certification Reciprocity

MSAPCB will grant reciprocity based on comparable reciprocal-level credentials from any IC&RC member board (http://www.msapcb.com/MSAPCBreciprocity.pdf). Counselors initiate the process by contacting their current board. Processing times will vary from one board to another; certificate holders should recognize that the process takes an average of 30 to 45 days. MSAPCB advises candidates to take into account renewal dates and make sure their out-of-state certification is active.

Additional Information

The Missouri Substance Abuse Professional Credentialing Board (http://www.msapcb.com/) can be reached by phone at 573-751-9211. The email address is help at msapcb.com.

The Missouri Addiction Counselors Association is an additional professional resource (www.missouriaddictioncounselors.org).