Get Certified

This situation best describes me:

I was formerly certified with the ACCBC, I currently hold unexpired certification with another DHCS approved certifying organization (CO), and I want to reinstate my ACCBC certification.


I was formerly certified with the ACCBC, my certification is now expired, and I want to renew my ACCBC certification.


I have met the Initial CATC Certification eligibility requirements (including passing the CATC Exam and completing the required 2,240 clinical experience hours) and I am ready to become initially certified with the ACCBC. Please review the CATC Certification Eligibility Requirements detailed below.

I have never been certified with the ACCBC; and I currently hold unexpired certification with, or I was previously certified with, another DHCS approved certifying organization (CO); and I want to transfer my certification to the ACCBC. (Please read the transfer and reinstatement policy in a new tab) Click here for the Education Equivalency Application process.


CATC Certification Eligibility

All candidates for certification must meet all eligibility requirements established by the ACCBC in effect at the time of application for certification. Candidates cannot earn certification without passing the CATC Exam. No other exam is accepted in lieu of the CATC Exam.

Eligibility Requirements

The following steps must be completed to earn CATC (I, II, III, IV, V, N) initial certification:

1. Education:

Option 1: Completion of a Community College or any accredited (post-secondary institution) Alcohol and Drug Studies (ADS)/Addiction Studies program that is at least 30 semester units in length and that is designed to meet Federal TAP 21 guidelines.

Option 2: Completion of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university in one of the following areas of study: Addiction Studies, Psychology, Sociology, Counseling, Human Services, Criminal Justice, or other related behavioral health or behavioral science degree. See the Education Equivalency process for details.

AND

Completion of the following addiction specific coursework either as part of, or in addition to, the applicant’s degree:

  • 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
  • Ethics (specific to addiction counseling)
  • Fieldwork/Practicum with direct experience with AOD clients

2. EXAM: Passing score of at least 70% on the CATC Exam. You must submit with the Initial Certification 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:

  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. (Overnight tech; driving clients; leading 12 step meetings – are not considered 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.

4. APPLICATION: Submission of a complete Initial CATC (I, II, III, IV, V, N) Certification Application

Please refer to the ACCBC Application Processing Time Policy for processing time information, and the ACCBC Application and Document Submission Policy regarding application submission (please see page 66  of the CATC Handbook regarding the aforementioned policies. CATC Handbook can be found here).

5. REFERENCES: Three (3) letters of character reference from three (3) different individuals. Reference letters must be typed and in formal letter format; emails will not be accepted in lieu of letters. Letters must include signature of author with author’s contact information. Letters must be from three different individuals and may not be written family members.

6. FEE: Payment of non-refundable Initial CATC (I, II, III, IV, V, N) Certification fee of $185.00. Payment for Initial Certification can be made here. CAADE membership is not required for certification.

ACCBC Career Ladder

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.

Education Equivalency Evaluation :With respect to meeting California Code of Regulations requirements for Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certification, and recognizing 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 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.

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.

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