If your goal is to become a substance abuse counselor in Maine you've chosen a great profession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 23 percent rate of job growth over the next decade, and although Maine's counselor growth projection is considerably less at 8.7 percent it is still higher than all occupational growth, which is at seven percent.

Salary and Introduction

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Substance abuse counselors in Maine earn an annual median wage of $46,890 which is considerably higher than the national average of $41,070. Coupled with the lower state cost of living this means a substance abuse counselor in Maine can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle while helping others overcome addiction.

A full 50 percent of counselors in Maine hold a master’s degree. Another 25 percent hold a bachelor’s degree, so you should take that into consideration when making your long-term goals. Because the highest 10 percent median wage, which typically represents those with higher education levels and more work experience, is over $66,000 earning your master’s degree or higher can translate into almost $20,000 in annual wages. Although you can become certified with an associate degree only five percent of counselors have that level of education, so you should use it as a stepping-stone degree.

Because substance abuse counselor licensure requires a combination of education and experience you should plan your education accordingly. If you're beginning college with an associate or bachelor degree make sure the coursework will segue into a master's or doctorate in the long term. Here's a look at the licensure requirements for substance abuse counselors in Maine.

Overview

Maine offers two levels of licensure for counselors: Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC). In addition, the state offers a designation of Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS) which is a supervisory position authorized to oversee those who are working towards their credential. Each type of certification requires specific education levels combined with specific supervised work experience before a counselor is qualified to take a certification exam.

Counselor credentials in Maine are overseen by the Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors. The Board is responsible for applications, testing, credentials, and renewal as well as maintaining the database of credentialed counselors.

Because work experience is a big part of your licensure requirements it's important you understand what clinical supervision means. You will be responsible for verifying your employment qualifies as work experience while earning your credential, so you should know what clinical supervision is and how to track it with your supervisor at each place of employment.

Substance abuse counselor credentials must be renewed periodically. Once you earn your certification or licensure you'll be required to complete continuing education before your credential expires. Having a working knowledge of the renewal procedure will help you plan your future goals as you work towards your next degree or credential.

The field of counseling is known as a high burnout occupation, so it's vital that you have a support system in place as you work towards your career goals. By joining professional organizations when you enter your substance abuse counselor program you'll be able to grow your network and support system as you learn.

Types of Licensure for Maine

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Maine has two credentials for substance abuse counselors as well as certification for approved clinical supervisors and is one of the few states that do not require a minimum education of bachelor’s degree for certification. In Maine there's also the position of Alcohol and Drug Counseling Aide (ADCA) to allow students to gain the necessary experience while qualifying for their credential. All positions require the applicant be at least 18 years old, hold a high school diploma, and pass a background check. Here's a look at the two counseling credentials and what is required to apply for each:

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC)

To apply to sit for the CADC you have three educational options.

First option: earn at least an associate's degree from a regionally or nationally accredited school and must be either in addiction counseling or clinically based behavioral sciences or in one of the following related fields:

  • Social and behavioral sciences
  • Social work
  • Counseling
  • Childhood development
  • Education and human development
  • Mental health and human services
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Psychology/educational psychology
  • Rehabilitation services

Second option: an applicant may also show proof of completion of 30 credit hours from an accredited school in one of the following subjects:

  • Psychology
  • Crisis Identification and Intervention
  • Group Process
  • Introduction to Social Service Systems
  • Chemical Dependency
  • Chemical Dependency Counseling
  • Career Experience in Social & Rehabilitative Services
  • Models of Addiction
  • Addiction and the Family
  • Substance Abuse Counseling for Special Populations
  • Case Management
  • Introduction to Community Mental Health
  • Psychosocial Rehabilitation
  • Interviewing and Counseling
  • Crisis Identification and Resolution
  • Substance Abuse with a Dual Diagnosis Component
  • Sexual Abuse, Trauma and Recovery
  • Mental Health and Aging
  • Cultural Competency/Diversity
  • Vocational Aspects of Disability

Third option: earn a Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician Certificate (MHRT/Community) from the University of Maine at Augusta or the University of Southern Maine or a Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Technician Certificate from the University of Maine at Augusta

In addition to the educational requirements a candidate must have 4,000 hours of supervised work experience working directly with alcohol and drug addiction clients. This experience must include three of the following functions:

  • Case Management
  • Client and Family education
  • Clinical evaluation
  • Counseling of individuals, groups, couples or families
  • Treatment Planning

Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC)

The educational requirements to apply for your LADC are the same as the first option under CADC certification. You must hold at minimum an associate's degree in addiction counseling or clinically based behavioral sciences from an accredited institution and you degree must be in one of the following fields:

  • Childhood development
  • Counseling
  • Education and human development
  • Mental health and human services
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Psychology/educational psychology
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Social and behavioral sciences
  • Social work

There are several options available to meet your work experience requirement to apply for your LADC:

  • 6,000 hours of supervised work experience working directly with alcohol and drug addiction clients.
  • If you hold an associates or bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school the supervised hours required are reduced to 4,000.
  • If you hold a master’s degree in addiction therapy or a clinical application behavioral science from an accredited college or university the supervised hour requirement is reduced to 2,000.
  • If you hold an active CADC credential the supervised hour requirement is 2,000 hours.

Education Requirements

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As outlined above, the educational requirements in Maine are far less strident than in most states. The most important thing is to verify that your school of choice has the proper accreditation as required by the Maine Office of Substance Abuse. The following two organizations are accepted by the Board for accreditation:

  • Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)

In addition, although a graduate degree is not required for licensure the majority of substance abuse counselors in Maine hold a master’s degree, so this should be in your long term plans.

Make sure the credits of your associate's degree will segue smoothly into your future Master's program at the time you enroll.

If an internship is part of your educational requirements make sure you register as a Alcohol and Drug Counseling Aide (ADCA) and that your internship is under a Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS) so you may apply your experience towards your licensure requirements.

Testing Process for Maine

In Maine counselor credentials are awarded through the Board of Alcohol & Drug Counselors. Your first step will be to apply for the exam and you'll need to submit your documents and information online through that website. When applying you'll need the following:

  • Birth certificate
  • Background check
  • 10-year non-certified motor vehicle report
  • Education transcripts
  • Supervised experience verification

The exams are overseen by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). Once your application is approved by the BADC they will forward your information to the IC&RC and that organization will notify you via email with your testing date and location. The following exams are given; you may find sample tests on the BADC website:

  • CADC: IC&RC ADC examination
  • LADC: IC&RC ADC and Advanced ADC examinations OR IC&RC ADC and CPM (Case Oral) examinations

IC&RC will notify the Board with your test results and they in turn will notify you. Once you pass the exam you may apply for your licensure through that office.

Clinical Supervision Explained

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Clinical supervision means your counseling work is done under the direct oversight of a Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS). Your CCS will be tasked with teaching you, consulting with you, and helping you research as needed in your clinical activity.

A CCS is also the person who helps you track your work experience hours and verifies the hours on the proper form for your certification. It is imperative that you make sure this paperwork is maintained throughout the time you are accumulating your work experience hours.

Credential Renewal and Continuing Education

Your CADC or LADC expires on November 30 each year. You will be required to take continuing professional education (CPE) throughout your career; CPE verification is due biannually in odd numbered years. The following requirements are for each level of licensure:

ADCA 12 contact hours
CADC 24 contact hours
LADC 36 contact hours
CCS 12 contact hours

LADCs who are also certified clinical supervisors need to complete a total of 48 contact hours.

Your CPE must include at least four hours of professional ethics. The following activities are recognized as CPE:

  • Seminars, Workshops and Institutes
  • College Level Courses
  • In-Service Training Sessions (10 hours maximum)
  • Teaching, writing, audiotapes/disks, videotapes/disks, independent study, certain distance learning (10 hours maximum)

Professional Associations for Maine

Affiliation with professional organizations will be vital to your career as a substance abuse counselor in Maine. Membership in a professional organization can have many benefits such as:

  • News on developments in the field
  • Changes in law that can affect your career
  • Mentorship
  • Networking
  • Continuing professional education opportunities
  • Job openings

As soon as you enroll in college you should join at least one organization. Your career advisor can recommend an association that is student-friendly, or you can join one of the following organizations:

  • Maine Association for Addiction Professionals
  • Maine Association of Substance Abuse Programs
  • Maine Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors