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A licensed chemical dependency counselor (LCDC) helps people with substance use disorders better understand and cope with addiction. These professionals display great interpersonal skills and have the ability to empathize with their clients in nonjudgmental ways. The role often requires patience, understanding and trust.
Some states allow a person to become licensed with an associate’s degree, but many require a bachelor’s degree or higher. Additionally, counselors are often required to gain experience through internships, supervised clinical hours or other avenues that involve direct client interaction.
Professionals who specialize in mental health and addiction are needed to help reduce the treatment gap that affects many underserved communities throughout the United States. LCDCs play an important role in closing this gap. The following provides an overview of what these professionals do, how they start their careers and what opportunities are available.
LCDC jobs involve a variety of duties performed in settings like addiction treatment facilities, private clinics, hospitals, government facilities and more. These duties include:
LCDCs primarily treat clients through therapy, which includes building strategies for relapse prevention and addressing the underlying causes of addiction.
The path to becoming an LCDC typically involves receiving a degree, gaining clinical experience and taking an exam for licensure. After these tasks are accomplished, an LCDC can begin working professionally in clinical settings.
Education requirements vary greatly from state to state, with some requiring only an associate’s degree and others requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher. Additionally, each state has its own requirements regarding supervised clinical hours, internships and related experience.
Using Ohio as an example, an LCDC needs at least an associate’s degree in behavioral science or nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in any field. They must also have 2,000 hours of supervised experience through internships or clinical practice. Finally, they must pass the ADC exam.
Candidates must pass a state LCDC exam for licensure. There are three LCDC levels, each with different requirements. In Ohio, these include:
After becoming licensed, LCDCs can find opportunities in mental health clinics, private practices, substance abuse treatment facilities and many other treatment organizations. The following provides an overview of occupational demand, average salary and tips for finding employment.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LCDCs and other mental health counselors make a median salary of around $46,240 per year. Demand is expected to grow by 22% from 2018 to 2028, indicating there will be many opportunities for LCDCs in the future.
Employers often post available positions on job boards like Indeed, Careerlink and similar websites. Additionally, LCDCs can check the career portals of local mental health clinics, hospitals, treatment facilities and government agencies to view active job listings.
LCDCs may also attend professional conferences, seminars and health care-related gatherings to find potential opportunities and build a professional network. School professors can also be a helpful resource for internships and post-graduate employment.
LCDCs make a median salary of $46,240.
At a minimum, a person will need a two-year associate’s degree and 1,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. However, some states have higher requirements for degrees and experience hours.
LCDCs can work remotely, and many facilities are beginning to offer telehealth roles for these professionals.
Psychology School Guide. “How to Become a Chemical Dependency Counselor.” Accessed June 14, 2020.
Miller, Ashley. “Role of a LCDC Counselor.” Chron, March 7, 2019. Accessed June 14, 2020.
HumanServicesEdu. “Substance Abuse Counseling Certification in Ohio.” Accessed June 14, 2020.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors.” April 10, 2020. Accessed June 14, 2020.