Iowa Substance Counselor Licensure & Certification

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The Iowa Board of Certification (IBC) offers certifications for substance abuse counselors within the state. They offer 4 different levels of certification including a temporary training certification. These certifications are: Temporary Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor (tCADC), Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor (CADC), International Alcohol & Drug Counselor (IADC), and International Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor (IAADC).

How To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor In Iowa

Degree Requirements & Education

The tCADC, CADC, and IADC only require a high school diploma. However college degrees can sometimes be substituted for work experience hours. The IAADC does require that the applicant hold a Master’s Degree in a behavioral science.

Applicants for all certifications will be required to obtain a certain amount of education hours within the following domain topics: Screening, Assessment and Engagement, Treatment Planning, Collaboration and Referral, Counseling, and Professional and Ethical Responsibilities.

The tCADC and the CADC both require 24 college semester hours. These hours must be in courses related to Counseling, Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, Human Services, and Criminal Justice. In addition to the required college hours, the applicant will need to document 150 clock hours of education. This education can be other college courses, workshops, seminars, and other training. These 150 hours should consist of: 45 clock hours in Counseling Theories & Techniques, 45 clock hours in Alcohol and Drug Specific, 6 clock hours in Special Populations, 6 clock hours in Counseling Ethics, and 3 clock hours in Racial/Ethnic related training.

The IADC applicants will need to complete 300 hours of training if they only have a high school diploma. These requirements are: 90 clock hours in Counseling Theories & Techniques, 90 clock hours in Alcohol and Drug Specific, 6 clock hours in Counseling Ethics, and 3 clock hours in Racial/Ethnic related training. If the IADC applicant has an Associate’s Degree, they will need to complete 250 hours, for applicants with a Bachelor’s Degree in a related field they will need 200 hours of training, and if the applicant has a Master’s Degree they are only required to complete 100 hours. IAADC applicants will need to complete at least 180 clock hours of training in the related areas.

Experience Requirements

The tCADC and CADC applicants must complete 1,000 hours of work experience in the substance abuse field. This experience must be completed within a 3 year time period. For the IADC, the amount of required work experience is dependent on the degree the applicant holds. Without a college degree the applicant needs to complete 6,000 hours of work experience, with an Associate’s Degree the applicant must complete 5,000 hours of work experience, with a Bachelor’s Degree the applicant will need to complete 4,000 hours of work experience, and with a Master’s Degree the applicant must complete 2,000 hours of work experience.

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Temporary CADC

The temporary certification is only valid for 2 years. It is intended to be given to those who have met all of the requirements of the CADC or IADC except for the supervised experience requirements. After completing the necessary work experience, the applicant can find the Upgrade Applications here:


All applicants are required to pay the same fee when applying. The application fee is $380. This fee includes application review, the required exam, and the 2 year certification fee as well. When applying, it is important that the applicant’s supervisor fills out Form 09. This is the Supervisor’s Evaluation Form. This must also be turned into the Board. Transcripts must be mailed directly from the college to the Board. All applications can be found below:


The Board administers exams on behalf of the IC&RC. The tCADC, CADC, and IADC require the applicant take and pass the Alcohol & Drug Counselor (ADC) Exam. The IAADC applicant must take and pass the Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor (AADC) Exam. All applicants will need to take their exam within 1 year of the approval of their application. The exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions. The applicants can find plenty of study material, practice exams, and candidate guides here: IC&RC Exam Prep.

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All counselors must renew their certification after 2 years. During this 2 year period, the counselor must complete 40 hours of continuing education. 3 of these clock hours must be in Ethics. The other 37 hours must be in related topics. Only 20 of these hours can be completed online. All recertification applications will need to be filled out online and emailed, or printed, filled out, and mailed in physically to the IBC office. Recertification Application