Equivalency Certification

Education Equivalency Evaluation and Certification Instructions: 

Process for applicants who attended non-accredited academic institutions

With respect to California State requirements and the value of work experience, and to create a pathway for all demographics who wish to become certified addiction treatment counselors, the ACCBC  has developed an education equivalency and career track policy for candidates who have not completed their Alcohol and Drug/Addiction Studies coursework at an accredited Community College or post-secondary institution.

Requirements for applying for the Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC) Credential without attending a Community College or any approved accredited (post-secondary institution) Alcohol and Drug Studies/Addiction Studies program:

Submit the Education Equivalency Evaluation Application, which can be accessed on the ACCBC website at https://www.accbc.org/catc/equivalency-certification/. The Education Equivalency Evaluation process is used to independently evaluate the education received by an applicant in order to verify that it meets the educational requirements set by the ACCBC for CATC Certification. If an Education Equivalency Application is approved, the applicant may move forward in the certification process by applying to take the CATC Exam, and upon successful passing of the CATC Exam, can then apply for Initial CATC Certification. (IC&RC Exam is not accepted) Please refer to Page 28 of the CATC Handbook for additional information (available at https://www.accbc.org/stats-info/form-library/).


  1. Required- 21 semester units of addiction specific coursework, ex: Intro to Addiction Studies, Drugs and Society OR Physiological Effects of Drugs and Alcohol, Family & Addiction, Intervention, Treatment and Recovery (Treatment of Substance Abuse—clinical focus), Co-Occurring Disorders, Group Counseling (experiential), Ethics (specific to addiction counseling).
  2. Optional- 9 semester units of prior learning (academic credit given for previous life/work experience) or elective courses can be submitted for evaluation for consideration for CATC-1.
  3. Required- 255 practicum hours (internship experience plus 45 clock/classroom hours) .

Education will need to be verified and candidates will need to provide transcripts from academic institutions, along with course outlines and syllabi for each class.

  1. To start the Education Equivalency process, please fill out the Education Equivalency Application, pay fee ($75) on the ACCBC website at https://www.accbc.org/catc/equivalency-certification/; please submit copy of receipt with application. For checks/money orders, please make payable to CAADE and write “ACCBC Equivalency” in memo section). Applications can be mailed with fee and all supporting documentation to the ACCBC office at 5230 Clark Ave. Suite 1, Lakewood, CA 90712, or emailed with all supporting documentation to office@accbc.org.  Applications  submitted  in person to the ACCBC office will be subject to the same processing time policies as applications that are submitted through mail and/or email. Faxed documents will not be accepted and will not be saved.
  2. Once your education equivalency application has been approved you must submit the Exam Eligibility Application and then sit for the CATC exam.


Once your application has been approved and you have passed the CATC examination, the following steps must be completed to earn CATC certification through the Education Equivalency Process:

  1. EXAM: Passing score on the CATC examination (please provide a copy of your score report that you received from the testing center immediately upon passing the CATC Exam). (ICRC exam not accepted)
  2. EXPERIENTIAL REQUIREMENTS: Proof of at least 2,240 hours of supervised clinical/ field experience hours on ACCBC Summary of Hours form.

Supervised clinical work experience requirements:

a. Experience may include volunteer or paid experience in the field dating back to the first day the applicant became registered with one of the approved certifying organizations.

b. Work must be in a licensed drug/alcohol treatment center or facility. Practicum/fieldwork hours DO count toward the total 2,240 hours.

c. Experience hours must be in; evaluation and assessment, treatment planning, pharmacology of alcohol and other drugs, cultural issues, models of intervention, family issues, legal and ethical issues, referrals, and/or record keeping.

d. A completed Summary of Hours Form from applicant’s supervisor(s) verifying the dates, hours, facility name(s), and experiential functions.

e. Supervisors must be certified alcohol/drug treatment counselors or licensed professionals and 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).

3. APPLICATION: Submission of a complete Initial CATC Certification Application that includes:

  1. Signed, initialed, and dated ACCBC Code of Ethics
  2. Signed, initialed, and dated Scope of Practice
  3. Signed, initialed, and dated Code of Conduct

4. INITIAL CERTIFICATION FEE ($185): Payment of initial non-refundable Initial CATC Certification fee. CAADE membership is not required for certification.

Fill out online initial equivalency certification application form, pay fee online (see ACCBC payment page at accbc.org, or, email, or mail initial equivalency certification application form (and payment payable to CAADE/ACCBC) to:

Addiction Counselor Certification Board of California

5230 Clark Ave, Suite #1

Lakewood, CA, 90712


Ph: (800) 991-2997 Fax: 562-275-3150.  Email: office@accbc.org    Website: www.accbc.org