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 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/).


  1. Required- 21 semester units of AOD/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. Required – 6 semester units of AOD Practicum/Field Work with 255 practicum hours completed. 
  3. 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 certification.

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

  1. To start the Education Equivalency process, please fill out the Education Equivalency 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 supporting documentation to the ACCBC office at 5230 Clark Ave. Suite 6, Lakewood, CA 90712, 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.
  2. If an Education Equivalency Application is approved, you will be advised to submit the Exam Eligibility Application to sit for the CATC exam.
  3. 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 that includes: Signed, initialed, and dated ACCBC Code of Ethics; signed, initialed, and dated Scope of Practice; and signed, initialed, and dated Code of Conduct
  2. CATC EXAM: Passing score on the CATC examination. You must submit with the application a copy of your score report that you received from the testing center 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.

          Supervised clinical work experience 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. Certification is issued for a period of two (2) calendar years.

Fill out the Initial CATC Certification Application found here and 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

5230 Clark Ave, Suite #6

Lakewood, CA, 90712

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