Simple Steps

Simple Steps to Becoming a Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC)

1.  Get RegisteredRegistration is required to work and provide AOD counseling services in a DHCS licensed and/or certified AOD program or facility.  Registration is issued for one (1) calendar year at a time and must be renewed annually. Please note that the California Code of Regulations (CCR) REQUIRE you to become fully certified within FIVE [5] YEARS from the first date that you officially register with a Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) approved certifying organization in California.

2.  Enroll in an approved Alcohol & Other Drug/Addiction Studies college program, or complete an equivalent educational path.

3.  Already completed your AOD college program? Apply to take the CATC Exam.

4.  Acquire at least 2,240 hours of supervised clinical/ field experience hours providing AOD counseling services in a DHCS licensed and/or certified AOD program or facility. Hours must be documented on the ACCBC Summary of Hours Form. Supervised hours must meet all requirements:

  1. Experience may include volunteer or paid experience in the field dating back to the first day the applicant became registered with a DHCS approved certifying organization. Hours cannot be counted during any period your registration was lapsed or expired, or before you first held registration.
  2. Experience hours must be completed in a DHCS licensed and/or certified drug/alcohol treatment center or facility. Practicum/fieldwork hours can count toward the total 2,240 hours, as long as the hours meet all other requirements.
  3. Experience hours must be acquired by providing AOD counseling services.
  4. Hours must be documented on the ACCBC Summary of Hours Form(s) by the applicant’s supervisor(s) verifying the dates of supervision, number of supervised hours, facility name(s), facility address(es), and counselor experiential functions.
  5. Supervisors must be certified alcohol/drug treatment counselors or licensed professionals, which may be (but are not limited to): (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC), Medical Doctor (MD).
  6. You cannot complete more than 2,080 hours in a one (1) calendar year period. Hours cannot be completed in less than fourteen (14) months.

5.  Become fully certified as a CATC (I-II-III-IV-V or N) by applying for Initial Certification. You can apply for Initial Certification if you have already passed the CATC Examination AND you have completed the required 2,240 clinical experience hours. You will be required to include all items stated within the application’s checklist.

6.  Renew your CATC Certification: You must keep your certification credential current. Certifications are issued for two (2) calendar years and must be renewed every two (2) years.  Renewal applications are not accepted by the ACCBC office more than sixty (60) days prior to certification expiration date.  Must submit proof of at least forty (40) TAP 21 related CEUs; nine (9) of those CEUs must be in Addiction Counselor Laws & Ethics. Copies of all listed CEU certificates must be included with renewal. All CEUs must be obtained from an approved CEU provider; be contracted by level of government (city, county, state, federal); or be from a regionally accredited college. All CEUs must pertain to the field of addiction counseling and must be dated within two (2) calendar years from the dates of renewal. CEU certificates must include the name of counselor, title of training, date received, and amount of CEUs awarded. CEU certificates from government agencies that are not already approved providers must clearly have evidence of being from a government agency.

7. Upgrade your CATC Certification: Are you already certified with ACCBC and you have obtained another related college degree? Upgrade your certification to a higher CATC Tier (I, II, III, IV, V, N)! Degree must be obtained from a regionally accredited college or university, and must be in Addiction Studies or a related behavioral health/behavioral science field. PLEASE NOTE: Upgrading your certification will not change your certification expiration date.

PLEASE NOTE: Renewal is the responsibility of each registered or certified individual – the ACCBC does not send out renewal notices. We do not offer expedited application services. Please be sure to submit applications at least thirty (30) calendar days prior to expiration, because processing time may take up to 30 days. Applications that are incomplete when submitted can take longer. Please plan accordingly to account for the processing time. Renewal Applications will not be accepted more than sixty (60) calendar days prior to expiration.


ACCBC Career Ladder:

RAC – Registered Addiction Counselor – Counselor is registered (not certified), is working on becoming fully certified, and has not passed the CATC Exam and has not yet met the requirements to become fully certified.

i – Registered Intern- Counselor is registered (not certified), is working on becoming fully certified, has already passed the CATC Exam, but has not yet met the requirements to become fully certified.

The honorary CATC (I, II, III, IV, V, N) tiered system is designed to signify your higher level of education to employers and clients. The education requirements (in addition to the minimum 315 hours of AOD specific coursework) for each honorary CATC tier level are as follows:

CATC – Counselor has met the minimum ACCBC and DHCS requirements for AOD certification.

CATC I – Counselor has a Certificate of Completion from a thirty (30) semester unit (minimum) approved Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD)/Addiction Studies or Alcohol and Drug Studies (ADS) Community College Program .

CATC II  – Counselor has an Associate Degree, in addition to meeting the minimum ACCBC and DHCS requirements for AOD certification. Degree must be from a regionally accredited college/university and must be in Addiction Studies or a related behavioral health/behavioral science field.

CATC III – Counselor has a Bachelor’s Degree, in addition to meeting the minimum ACCBC and DHCS requirements for AOD certification. Degree must be from a regionally accredited college/university and must be in Addiction Studies or a related behavioral health/behavioral science field.

CATC IV – Counselor has a Master’s Degree, in addition to meeting the minimum ACCBC and DHCS requirements for AOD certification. Degree must be from a regionally accredited college/university and must be in Addiction Studies or a related behavioral health/behavioral science field.

CATC V – Counselor has a Doctoral Degree, in addition to meeting the minimum ACCBC and DHCS requirements for AOD certification. Degree must be from a regionally accredited college/university and must be in Addiction Studies or a related behavioral health/behavioral science field.

CATC N – Counselor has a Nursing Degree, in addition to meeting the minimum ACCBC and DHCS requirements for AOD certification. Degree must be from a regionally accredited college/university and must be in Addiction Studies or a related behavioral health/behavioral science field.

The implementation of an educationally based tiered system rewards and recognizes individuals who have obtained certificates or higher degrees from regionally accredited institutions, in addition to meeting the minimum requirements of the basic CATC certification credential. All of the CATC credentials are widely recognized in the profession as credentials with the highest standard of education in the industry, something employers and consumers alike regard in high value.

Tip: The I is a Roman numeral for one (1), meaning certified. The lower case i stands for an intern who has passed the CATC exam but has not yet accumulated 2,240 hours of supervised internship experience to become certified.