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Substance Abuse Counselor - Certification Information

1) Complete education. Must have a high school diploma, HSED or GED.

2) Complete 360 hours of Department approved specialized education in substance use disorder counseling within a comprehensive program or written degree program covering the content areas listed below.

An applicant who previously held a certificate from the Wisconsin Certification Board and can provide documentation of accumulation of 100 or more hours of approved specialized education as of March 1, 2007, may submit proof of completion of the balance of the 360 hours from sources other than a comprehensive program.

Substance Abuse Counselor core curriculum



Substance Abuse Assessment


Substance Abuse Counseling


Substance Abuse Case Management


Substance Abuse Education


Substance Abuse Professional Responsibility


Electives within the performance domains listed above




3) The training shall be in a comprehensive program or degree program approved by the Department, except for those having an accumulation of 100 or more hours as of March 1, 2007.

4) All of the content areas shall be infused with information and application to practice that is responsive to the characteristics of individual, group, family, and couple clients and significant others seeking substance use disorder treatment, including, but not limited to, age, gender, ability, disability, developmental level, sexual orientation, health status, ethnicity, culture, and social issues.

Total number of contact hours submitted must equal at least 360. Submit  Education and Training (Form #2751) along with proof of attendance and completion.

5) Complete and submit Application for Substance Abuse Counselor including all required documentation and pay required fee. 

6) DSPS reviews application and makes eligible for ICRC examination, if not already taken through WCB or other agency.  

 7) Successful completion required examinations.  Examinations may be taken after completion of education, before experience is completed.

 8) Completion of approved experience.

Submit verification of completion of 4,000 hours of patient counseling experience performing the 8 practice dimensions as a Substance Abuse Counselor, supervised as described in (Form #2749), within 5 years immediately preceding the date of application. 4, 000 hours of work experience shall include the following:

2,000 hours performing the 8 practice dimensions with patients who have primary substance use disorder diagnosis.

1,000 hours in substance use disorder counseling with at least 500 hours is a one-on one individual modality setting.

A minimum of 200 hours of counseling during the 12 month period immediately proceeding the date of application, of which 100 hours shall have been completed using individual modality setting.

Experience in excess of 40 hours per week or 2,000 hours per year will not be accepted.

Educational equivalencies – Substance Abuse Counselor.
Successful completion of education resulting in a degree approved by the Department in a field with an addiction emphasis or concentration from a clinical program approved by the Department in a field that may be used to satisfy, in part, the experience requirement.  The possession of the following degrees shall be exchanged for experience at the following rate: 

  • An associate degree will equal 500 hours of supervised experience.

  • A bachelor degree will equal 1,000 hours of supervised experience.

  • A master or doctoral degree will equal 2,000 hours of supervised experience.

  • Complete and submit Supervised Experience (Form #2749)

 9) Department review of application; determination to grant credential.

 Application Process