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A Comprehensive Look at Peer Support Career Opportunities and the Current Landscape in California

Peer Support Career Opportunities

The mental health and substance use treatment sectors are witnessing a rapid expansion in the domain of peer support. Peer Support Specialists (PSS) are individuals who have personally experienced mental health conditions. They undergo specialized training to help others, offering a unique understanding and perspective that can be immensely helpful to those in need.

In California, the demand for peer support services is on the rise. With a vast and varied population, the state has a significant incidence of mental health and substance use disorders. The situation has been further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has intensified these issues.

These circumstances have created numerous opportunities for peer support specialists to find employment in California. They can work in diverse environments such as community mental health centers, county mental health, treatment facilities, and one-on-one with individuals who need assistance. 

Peer Support Specialists are individuals who have firsthand knowledge of mental health challenges and offer non-clinical aid to those grappling with similar problems. This article delivers an all-encompassing look at the path to becoming a peer support specialist in California, detailing the advantages, requirements, work environments, compensation, and future prospects in the field.

What is Peer Support?

Peer support involves individuals with lived experience listening, sharing their experiences, and providing guidance and practical help to others diagnosed with mental health. It can help reduce isolation, increase self-esteem, improve coping skills, and more (NAMI, 2022). 

Benefits of Peer Support

The advantages of peer support in the mental health field are well-documented and substantial. Research indicates that peer support can significantly reduce healthcare costs (CMS, 2022), leading to a more efficient and economical healthcare system. Furthermore, it has been found to enhance patient satisfaction (Davidson et al., 2012), creating a more patient-centered approach. Access to mental healthcare is also increased through peer support, bridging gaps in service availability (Repper & Carter, 2011). Perhaps most importantly, peer support has improved patient outcomes (Pitt et al., 2013), contributing to more effective recovery and overall well-being.

Becoming a Peer Support Specialist 

To qualify for this opportunity, the following criteria must be met:

– You must be at least 18 years of age or older, as stipulated by the guidelines set forth by CBHDA in 2022.

– Possession of a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification is required per the standards established by CBHDA in 2022.

– Candidates must self-identify as having lived experience, a requirement that aligns with the CBHDA’s 2022 regulations.

– Completion of approved training is essential. This ensures that all candidates have undergone a standardized educational process.

– Finally, obtaining certification by successfully passing an examination is mandatory. This process ensures that all candidates meet the necessary professional standards.

Settings for Peer Support Specialists

Peer support specialists have a wide array of opportunities to apply their skills and expertise. They can work in facilities where they provide essential support to patients in a clinical environment. Community mental health centers offer another avenue for engagement, allowing specialists to work closely with diverse community members.  County facilities also hire peer support specialists.  

Salary and Job Outlook in California 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook is excellent due to the high demand and shortage of qualified specialists across the state (Aurrera Health, 2021). Those interested in working in the field should research pay rates, working conditions, and typical schedules. 


Becoming a peer support specialist is a rewarding career that makes a difference in people’s lives. With proper training and certification, those with lived experience can obtain satisfying jobs improving mental healthcare access and outcomes. To gain more knowledge regarding Peer Support Specialist Training, kindly click on this link.


Aurrera Health. (2021). California Pursues Addition of Peer Support Specialist Services to List of Medi-Cal Covered Behavioral Health Services. 

BLS. (2022). Peer Support Specialists.

CBHDA. (2022). Peer Support Specialist Certification. 

CMS. (2022). Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics.

Davidson, L., et al. (2012). Peer support among persons with severe mental illnesses: A review of evidence and experience. World Psychiatry, 11(2), 123-128. 

NAMI. (2022). Peer Support Specialist Training and Certification Programs.

Pitt, V., et al. (2013). Consumer-providers of care for adult clients of statutory mental health services. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 3.

Repper, J., & Carter, T. (2011). A review of the literature on peer support in mental health services. Journal of Mental Health, 20(4), 392-411. 

SAMHSA. (2022). Peer Support Workers in Recovery.

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