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Career Outlook for Those in Addiction Studies Courses

We often receive calls from prospective students interested in finding out more about career possibilities in the field of addiction once they have received their certification. It is a very difficult question to answer, but in this blog post, we will discuss the various considerations students should understand when choosing their certification.

Experience is critical to effective addiction treatment

We must all start somewhere and when first entering into the field of addiction, no matter how well educated you may be, taking a job at the front lines – such as a Behavioral Health Technician or Recovery Support Specialist gives you a learning experience like no other. Addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders can take many shapes and forms and experience gives the counselor or support team the tools to account for the unexpected. This is why all counselor level certifications require thousands of hours of work experience.

Experience may not always be enough

Many of our students have a great deal of experience in the addiction treatment industry. They may even have lived experience with addiction or caring for an addicted individual. And while immersion and recovery are both a very big plus when looking for a job, employers tend to prefer formal certification or licensure as the role becomes more supervisory in nature, especially in the clinical workings of the facility. Having a certification or license in behavioral health is a way for facilities to ensure an appropriate level of competence.

Certification versus licensure

Depending on the state, alcohol and drug counselors may be certified or licensed. A certification such as those provided by the Florida Certification Board show that the individual has the training and experience to develop a foundation for professional readiness. Licensure is usually provided by a governmental organization and often requires a higher level of training (often from an accredited institution), experience and education. However, both certified and licensed professionals are bound to the ethical and legal principles that underlie addiction treatment. With that being said, some employers prefer one over the other while many others have no preference as long as the candidate fills the position’s needs and has the appropriate temperament and experience.

What about master’s degrees and PhDs?

Master’s level and PhDs candidates are often sought after for the highest-level positions within an addiction treatment center. However, these professional may also be required to acquire additional certification, licensure or training with a specialization in addiction treatment and/or mental health. The Florida Certification Board, for example, has a specific master’s level Certified Addiction Professional (MCAP) designation as well as specialty tracks for certain licensed individuals looking to get their MCAP.

And how about medical professionals including medical doctors and nurses?

Medical doctors including psychiatrists, primary care physicians and nurses are an integral part of the treatment process. Medical professionals must supervise detoxification and will lend their expertise and experience to the treatment process. Psychiatrists, also medical doctors, are necessary to prescribe medication, when necessary.

Ultimately, the decision on whether to get certified or licensed depends largely on state and local regulations as well as the policies and preferences of the facility that you are considering. Making sure that you know the requirements of the job is key to getting the appropriate training beforehand. For anyone that needs certification training, The Academy for Addiction Professionals is here to help.