Youth Drug Counselor: Education and Job Training Requirements for Becoming a Youth Drug Counselor

Published Dec 15, 2009

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If you're a compassionate person who enjoys helping others, you may be an excellent candidate to work with troubled teens and young adults as a youth drug counselor. Youth drug counselors are also often known as drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselors or substance abuse counselors. A minimum of a bachelor's degree is typically required.

Youth Drug Counselor Career Summary

Youth drug counselors work in treatment centers and residential facilities, at high schools and colleges and for non-profit groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Clients may include teenagers, young adults and parents. Job duties of a youth drug counselor include meeting with and assessing the needs of clients, conducting family therapy sessions and working with addicts to design a recovery plan.

Education Required to Become a Youth Drug Counselor

Many available positions for youth drug counselors require professionals possessing a minimum of a bachelor's degree with some positions requiring a master's degree. Other jobs are open to candidates with only a high school education. A degree in a counseling-related field, like social work or psychology, is not necessarily a prerequisite for all youth drug counselor jobs. For those who do pursue a counseling degree, required coursework will typically include classes on addiction, case management and therapy. Some positions may allow candidates to substitute work experience for a formal education in counseling.

Job Training and Certifications Required to Become a Youth Drug Counselor

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,, 49 states and the District of Columbia require that non-school-based counselors have state-administered licenses. Typically, anywhere from two years to 3,000 hours of work experience are required for licensure, and substance abuse counselors are governed by a separate state agency than most other counseling professions. The association for addiction professionals,, offers four types of certification: National Certified Addiction Counselor, Levels I and II, Master Addiction Counselor and Tobacco Addiction Specialist.

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