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A Complete Guide to CADC Certifications

CADC Certifications

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

One in seven people in the U.S. will struggle with substance addiction in their lifetime. That means there’s a lot of people out there who need help on the road to recovery. Do you have what it takes to help them? Then a CADC certification might be just what you need. 

CADC stands for Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor. While you don’t necessarily need one of these certifications to work in the addiction field, they can help you get a job and do that job better. 

However, there’s more than one type of CADC license. Wondering how it all works? We’ve got the answers — keep reading to learn everything you need to know about CADC requirements and what they can do for your career.

What Is a CADC Certification? 

If you want to become a drug and alcohol counselor (also known as a substance abuse counselor), a CADC certification might be the right choice for you. 

CADC counselors help people by guiding them to understanding the underlying causes of their addiction and assisting them in seeking treatment. Counseling can happen in small-group or one-on-one sessions. Some counselors specialize, while others work with a general audience. 

The California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP) and similar organizations offer CADC certification to those who want to work in this field. This certification proves that you have valuable experience and abilities in the field, instilling confidence in your clients and employers.

A certification can also help you advance to even more rewarding future jobs. Certification makes you more marketable as an employee, as well as boosting your confidence in your own abilities. Once you’re certified, you can pursue jobs at certified and state-licensed facilities that you may not have been qualified to work at before. 

Different Types of CADC Certifications

While the reasons for getting a CADC certification may be straightforward, the types of certifications available can get complicated. Let’s break down the basics.


Although it’s not a CADC certification, most aspiring drug and alcohol counselors will need to start by getting their RADT certification before moving on to CADC training. 

RADT stands for Registered Alcohol and Drug Technician. There are two levels of RADT training. Those with RADT-II certification are especially well-prepared to move on to CADC certification. 


CADC-I is the first level of CADC certification. This level is aimed at people who have associate’s degrees, or in some states, merely a high school diploma or GED. This certification also requires the lowest number of supervised work hours. 


If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll want to go straight for the CADC-II certification. This certification requires more supervised work hours than CADC-I. 

Either one of these certifications can help advance your career in the counseling field. The main factor in your choice is the level of education that you already have. Both require you to get your supervised work experience from a licensed facility before getting certified. 


If you want to advance your career even further, you may want to move on to become a Licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LAADC). This is the highest level of certification offered by the CCAPP.

Getting certified as a LAADC requires that you have a master’s degree, and hold professional liability insurance. This certification is a sure way to stand out from the crowd of applicants when looking for jobs in your field.

To become a LAADC, you need to have 300 hours of education in your field, which you can get as part of your master’s degree. You also need to have 4,000 hours of work experience.

While you can spend years working to become a LAADC, the professional rewards are well worth it if you want to advance to the top of the substance abuse counseling field.

CADC Requirements for Certification 

As you work on getting your CADC and related certifications, it’s important to check that your school meets the requirements. 

Only schools approved by the CCAPP or an equivalent state certification board can be used to meet your certification requirements. Before enrolling in a school, always check that it meets these requirements and that you can use your time spent toward your CADC certification. 

Can You Get Drug and Alcohol Certification Online? 

You can meet the education requirements for CADC certification through an online program. However, keep in mind that you’ll also need to have a certain number of supervised work hours to get your CADC certification. 

So, while you can start working toward certification online, you will also need some hands-on experience to finish the process. 

The length of time to get certified depends on which certification you’re pursuing, and how quickly you move through your coursework. However, if you want to get certified fast, it is possible to get CADC certification in less than one year, whether you attend school online or in person. 

Finding the Best Drug and Alcohol Certification Programs 

It’s important to choose an approved school to get your CADC certification from. But beyond that, how can you choose the best program for your needs? 

First, the ideal school for you offers classes that meet your needs: online, in-person, or a hybrid approach. If you plan to work while studying, look for a school with flexible courses that can work with your schedule. Many CADC programs are designed to be completed while also working. 

Whether or not you have prior experience in the field, the school you choose should support you as a learner, providing you with the education you need to get hired. 

Ready to Get Certified?

If you’ve chosen the path of drug and alcohol counseling, a CADC certification is likely in your future.

Now, it’s all about choosing a school that will help you meet your certification and education goals. Each learner is different, so it’s valuable to check out a variety of schools before deciding on one. 

At InterCoast Colleges, we offer CCAPP-approved training that can help you meet those goals in less than a year. Wondering if our school is right for you? Check out these reviews and testimonials to help you decide!

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Ariana Warth
Ariana Warth
3 years ago

How much is program

David M Buelle
David M Buelle
2 years ago

Im currently working towards my degree in psychology and have been told to put it on hold and get my certificate in addiction studies. Is that true? Do i need the certificate or can i just complete my AA in psychology and get my CADC-I certification and later move on to my bachelors in psychology to get my CADC-II?

2 years ago

do you guys accept fasfa?

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