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CAADC Certification: Why To Apply And Who Can Apply?


Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

CAADC is one of the largest addiction-related certifications available today. Over 26 states, countries, and territories offer it to over 5,000 professionals.

This highly sought-after certification requires a difficult testing and application process as well as plenty of education. It’s worth the effort because it serves as proof of a professional’s qualification. The benefits extend to professionals, their employers, and the community as a whole.

Read our guide to understand what CAADC certification is, how to apply for it, and how it can benefit you and the community you serve.

What is CAADC Certification?

Drug counselor certifications provide proof that a professional is knowledgeable enough to work in the addiction field. There are various types with their own requirements and specializations.

CADC stands for Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. For more information on exactly what this means, check out our complete guide to CADC

CAADC takes the requirements for becoming a Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor and takes it even further. It gives applicants the title of Certified Advanced Addiction & Drug Counselor.

CAADC certification serves as proof of a professional’s qualifications. It shows that they have worked in the addiction field for years and that they have the appropriate knowledge and education.

The application and testing process for CAADC certification is fairly rigorous, but this ensures that only the most qualified professionals receive it.

Application and Renewal

If you meet the requirements for CAADC in your area, submit an application to the local certification board for review. 

There is a non-refundable application fee of $150. This is the primary cost associated with the process, but there can also be fees for testing, education, and other necessities.

CAADC certification only lasts for 2 years. After that, it must be renewed. Submit a Renewal Application along with proof that you’ve completed at least 40 hours of additional education, 20 of which must be in the addiction field.

If your application is approved, you will receive CAADC certification. You can then display this in your office and/or on your resume while applying for jobs, improving your reputation and attractiveness to employers.

It’s important to know the requirements before applying, as there is no single set of national standards. Research what your state requires to improve your chances of being approved.


The purpose of CAADC certification is to ensure that only the most qualified professionals are working in the addiction field. That is why the process of obtaining it is so rigorous.

There are various requirements that every applicant must meet before they receive CAADC certification. They relate to experience, supervision, education, testing, ethics, and residency.

Experience is the best way to learn and an important requirement for receiving CAADC certification. A Certified Advanced Addiction & Drug Counselor must perform at least 2,000 hours of part-time or clinical counseling work. 100 of these hours must be supervised by SUD services.

A Certified Advanced Addiction & Drug Counselor must also have the proper education. This means at minimum a Master’s in psychology, social work, or a related field.

The amount of time the applicant spends in education and what they learn is just as important as the degree they receive. They must clock 186 hours of education, 180 of which must be related to the substance abuse field. They also need at least 6 hours of face-to-face ethics education.

Before receiving CAADC certification, applicants must pass two tests. This includes the IC&RC/AADC exam as well as a Drug Counselor examination.

Ethics are an essential part of the medical field, as every provider must treat their patients fairly. That’s why all CAADC applicants need to sign and follow the current Counselor Code of Ethical Standards.

The final requirement relates to residency. Applicants must be able to prove that they live and work in the state they’re applying in at least 51% of the time.

Note that the requirements and application process for CAADC certification differ in each state, so check the standards in your area before applying.

The IC&RC Exam

The IC&RC exam contains 25 pre-test items and 125 scored multiple-choice questions, with only one correct answer for each. It takes approximately 3 hours to complete.

The IC&RC exam must be taken at a designated IQT center. You can go online or call 1-866-773-1114 to find the one nearest to you.

Schedule an exam time ahead of time and don’t be late or risk facing fees. You’re allowed to reschedule or cancel your exam if necessary, but doing so can mean paying even more fees.

Bring your photo ID and a Candidate Admission Letter to the testing center. The exam begins with a tutorial and ends with a survey.

The IC&RC exam is split up into 4 domains:

  • Domain I: Screening, Assessment, and Engaging
  • Domain II: Treatment Planning, Collaboration, and Referral 
  • Domain III: Counseling
  • Domain IV: Professional and Ethical Responsibilities

Each domain covers relevant tasks and knowledge that every Certified Advanced Addiction & Drug Counselor needs to know. The weighting for each one differs. Domain I makes up 23% of your score, Domain II takes 27%, Domain III takes 28%, and Domain IV takes 22%.

You will receive a preliminary score immediately after completing the exam, but you need to contact the local IC&RC member board for final scores. To pass, you must receive at least a 500 on a scale of 200-800.

If you fail or wish to improve your scores, you can retake the exam in 90 days. 4 failed attempts require you to face remedial actions before you can take it again.

Each examination board has its own requirements and fees, so look up your local IC&RC board before taking the exam.

To help prepare for the required testing, familiarize yourself with the skills counselors need.

Benefits of CAADC Certification

Obtaining CAADC is a difficult process, so some may professionals may wonder why they would ever need it. There are several benefits of CAADC certification. It can help your career as well as the people you work for and the patients you serve.

Benefits For Professionals

CAADC certification can be worn like a badge of honor and displayed for everyone to see. Doing so will improve your reputation and credibility among employers and potential patients.

An increasing number of employers and state boards are requiring alcohol and drug counselors to be certified. It serves as proof of their qualifications, making them a more attractive candidates.

If you don’t get certified, you may be missing out on a quickly growing career field. With stable salaries and ripe opportunities for advancement, the number of substance abuse and behavior disorder counselors is expected to grow at least 21%.

Benefits for Employers

Employers want to hire the best possible employees, but it’s becoming more difficult as the pool of educated applicants dwindles.

Employers need employees who are skilled with a proven record of high performance. They prefer those who are willing to keep learning, as the healthcare industry is constantly changing. Many healthcare practices also must ensure that every employee meets government requirements.

CAADC certification provides employers with all of these benefits and more. It helps them know they’re hiring a professional with the right experience, education, and professional reputation.

Benefits for Sponsoring Organizations

Organizations often sponsor medical practices that provide addiction services. They prefer to work with CAADC-certified providers because of the many benefits it provides.

Working under CAADC guidelines provides sponsoring organizations with a set of ethical and medical standards, increasing patient satisfaction and improving efficiency. It also makes it easier to cooperate with other organizations in the addiction field. 

Benefits for the Community

Trust in medical professionals is at an all-time low, dropping from 75% in 1966 to 34% in 2018. 

Patients know they can trust professionals with CAADC certification, as it provides proof of their education, experience, and positive reputation. When comparing providers, they’re more likely to choose one who’s certified.

Certification also helps in the event that something does go wrong. The CAADC provides a set of standards that makes it easier for patients to file and handle any complaints.

Where to Get CAADC Certification

A professional can receive many forms of certification in the addiction field. They can become certified clinical supervisors, gambling addiction counselors, or go for any number of specializations.

CAADC certification is one of the most difficult to obtain but provides a host of benefits. It helps candidates stand out, provides practices with valuable employees, and helps patients trust their healthcare providers.

It’s important to know the requirements for CAADC certification in your area, as they differ from state to state. If you can meet them and pass the required exams, you may be able to earn this valuable certification.

One of the first and more important steps in getting CAADC certification is having the proper education. You must find a school that will familiarize you with the world of addiction treatment.

We are a trade and vocational school with a proven track record. No matter what field you want to enter into or learn more about, we can help you reach the next level of your career. Browse our programs and contact us for more information today.

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