Equivalency Certification

Education Equivalency Evaluation and Certification Instructions: 

Process for applicants who attended non-approved 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 approved accredited Community College or post-secondary institution.

Requirements for applying for the Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC) Credential for individuals that did not complete an approved and accredited Community College or post-secondary institution Alcohol and Other Drug Studies/Addiction Studies (AOD/ADS) program:

Individuals that did not complete approved/accredited AOD/ADS programs must submit the Education Equivalency Evaluation Application, which can be accessed on the ACCBC website here. 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 (CATC Handbook available at https://www.accbc.org/stats-info/form-library/).


Applicants must have completed all of the following addiction specific core coursework either as part of, or in addition to, the applicant’s degree: (Coursework equates to semester units, not quarter units)i.

  1. Drugs and Society – Three (3) Semester Units
  2. Physiological Effects of Drugs and Alcohol/Pharmacology of Drugs and Alcohol – Three (3) Semester Units
  3. Addiction and the Family/Family Dynamics of Abuse – Three (3) Semester Units
  4. Intervention, Treatment and Recovery (Treatment of Substance Abuse—clinical focus) -Three (3) Semester Units
  5. Co-Occurring Disorders – Three (3) Semester Units
  6. Group Process/Group Counseling – Three (3) Semester Units
  7. Laws and Ethics (must be specific to addiction counseling) – Three (3) Semester Units
  8. AOD specific Fieldwork /Practicum – Six (6) Semester Units
    1. A minimum of 255 clinical hours must be completed within the six (6) units of Practicum/Fieldwork courses 

Education will be verified. Candidates will need to provide official transcripts from all academic institutions, along with course catalog descriptions, and syllabi, for each course. Please refer to the checklist within the application for additional detail. 

To start the Education Equivalency Evaluation process, fill out the Education Equivalency Evaluation Application, and submit the non-refundable application fee of $75.00 on the ACCBC website here. (For checks/money orders, please make payable to CAADE and write “ACCBC Equivalency” in memo section). Applications can be mailed with fee and all required supporting documentation to the ACCBC office at 4182 N. Viking Way Suite 213, Long Beach, CA 90808, or emailed as a PDF file 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.

  1. If an Education Equivalency Evaluation Application is approved, you will be advised to submit the Exam Eligibility Application to sit for the CATC exam. After passing the CATC Exam, you will be required to submit a complete Initial Certification Application, which can be found here.
  2. If an Education Equivalency Application is denied, you will be required to complete additional AOD specific coursework before being allowed to reapply for Education Equivalency. 

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

  1. INITIAL CATC CERTIFICATION APPLICATION: Submission of a complete Initial CATC Certification Application, which can be found here
  2. CATC EXAM: Passing score on the CATC examination. You must submit with the Initial Certification Application a copy of your score report that you received at the testing center by the exam proctor immediately upon passing the CATC Exam. (IC&RC exam is not accepted in lieu of the CATC Exam).
  3. EXPERIENTIAL REQUIREMENTS: Proof of at least 2,240 hours of supervised clinical/ field experience hours documented on the ACCBC Summary of Hours Form, which can be found here

          Supervised clinical work experience must meet all of the following requirements:

    • 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.
    • Work must be 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. 
    • Experience hours must be in: evaluation and assessment; treatment planning; pharmacology of alcohol and other drugs; models of intervention; family issues; legal and ethical issues; referrals; client record keeping.
    • Must be documented on the ACCBC Summary of Hours Form(s) from applicant’s supervisor(s) verifying the dates of supervision, number of supervised hours, facility name(s), facility address(es), and counselor experiential functions. 
    • 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). 
    • 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.

4. INITIAL CERTIFICATION FEE ($185.00): Payment of non-refundable Initial CATC Certification fee. CAADE membership is not required for certification. Please see ACCBC payment page here. Initial Certification is issued for a period of two (2) calendar years, and is granted from the date that an Initial Certification Application is processed by the ACCBC office (not the date the application was received). 

To apply for Initial Certification, applicants must complete the Initial CATC Certification Application, which can be found here,  and must submit with all items listed within the application’s checklist.  You will submit the application by emailing as a PDF file or sending by postal mail to:

Addiction Counselor Certification Board of California

4182 N. Viking Way Suite 213, Long Beach, CA 90808

Phone: 1-562-304-5261   Email: office@accbc.org    Website: www.accbc.org