How Long does it Take to be Certified as an Addiction Therapist in Washington?
As a resident of Washington State interested in pursuing a career as an addiction therapist, your first question is likely about certification and what you have to do in order to practice addiction therapy in the state. While the Washington State Department of Health does offer a certified chemical dependency professional program, not all working addiction therapists in the state are certified. Depending upon your exact job title and description, you may or may not need to be certified in order to work. However, even if certification is not required, you can still increase your salary and enjoy other additional benefits by choosing to get certified.
Fortunately, the process of becoming a certified chemical dependency professional is actually fairly straightforward and simple. In order to qualify, you will need to posses at least an associate's degree from an accredited institution of higher learning. If you do not have an associate's degree, you may still qualify for the program if you have taken at least sixty hours of courses from an accredited school, with at least thirty course hours being in areas related to chemical dependency work.
You will also be required to take a four hour course on AIDS education as it relates to drug abuse. Aside from education, you are also required to fulfill certain educational and experience requirements. These include at least 2,500 hours of supervised training in the field with an associate's degree or at least 2,000 hours of supervised training in the field with a bachelor's degree. If you have a master's or doctoral degree, then you will only require 1,500 hours of supervised training in the field. You will also have to pass a final certifying exam and complete at least 28 hours of continuing education related to the fields every two years in order to keep your certification current.
If all of that sounds like too much work to you, then don't worry. There are still plenty of jobs you can do in the field in Washington with the right combination of education and experience. No matter what level of a degree you have, we strongly suggest taking on an internship after you complete your education. Even if you do not intend to seek a certification or licensure in the state, the experience you gain will help you to build your resume, giving you more knowledge in addiction therapy and helping you to have an easier time acquiring jobs. Furthermore, internships are a fabulous way to meet important professional connections. Many people have found jobs through professionals they met while completing their internships, and some have even gone on to be employed at the place of business where they completed their internship, sometimes even before the internship has officially ended!
In many states there is only one way into the field – through licensure – but in Washington, you have a lot of options. Even if you are late in coming to this career field and possess a bachelor's or associate's degree in an unrelated subject, you can still make your career aspirations a reality. Those who have an unrelated associate's degree can simply transfer their general credits to a bachelor's degree program and then major in a more related field. If you already have a bachelor's degree, however, you won't wont to attend another four years of college. Instead, you can apply for admission to a related graduate degree program. You may be surprised to know that many of these programs are thrilled to take on students from varied and unrelated educational backgrounds, as this adds a level of diversity to the program and better helps the participants to learn from one another and each other's life experiences.
So, no matter where you find yourself as you prepare for a career in addiction therapy, know that there is a way to reach your goals. If, after reading this, you're still unsure of what your next step should be, feel free to contact an admissions counselor from a local college or university for guidance. You can also try speaking with a career counselor or even to professionals already working in the field. Most will be more than happy to help you reach your goals.