How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Nebraska

Working as a substance abuse counselor can be a rewarding career. Not only do substance abuse counselors help those in need, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the field will grow by 23% from 2016-2026. Fast job growth can mean job security and many potential openings.

Nebraska is among the fastest-growing states for substance abuse counselors. State projections show a 20.3% growth in open positions from 2016-2026. Nebraska is also one of the highest-paying states for substance abuse counselors. According to the BLS, substance abuse counselors in Nebraska earned an annual mean wage of $53,680 in 2016, well above the national average of $44,160.

There are two forms of licensing for substance abuse counselors in Nebraska: Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) and Provisional Alcohol and Drug Counselor (PLADC). Regardless of which is chosen, individuals are setting themselves up for a high-demand position in a high-paying state.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Nebraska

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Nebraska here

Education and Experience Requirements

Before applying to become a substance abuse counselor, students must first satisfy the minimum level of education required. While a college education isn't required, studying at a university is an excellent way to satisfy some of the academic requirements.

Academic Requirements

Technically, no degree is necessary to become a substance abuse counselor in Nebraska. However, students are expected to have completed counseling-related courses at the collegiate level. That being said, a high school diploma or GED is the bare minimum required to become a substance abuse counselor in Nebraska.

Some Nebraska schools offer degrees that satisfy both licenses' educational requirements. The courses don't need to be completed in Nebraska, but Nebraska schools are more likely to meet state requirements.


Interested in pursuing an education in substance abuse counseling? See the following pages to learn about counseling academic programs by level:


Substance Abuse Counseling Coursework

Nebraska requires that prospective substance abuse counselor students complete a minimum of 270 contact hours; one semester hour counts as 15 contact hours. Of the 270 required hours, 45 must be completed in group counseling, counseling theories, and aspects of drug and alcohol addiction. An additional 30 hours must be related to human development, a course covering the development and growth of humans through life, case planning, and management, and a course that covers the collection and use of client data.

Additional required fields round out the remaining 270 required hours.

Practicum and Supervised Practice

Prior to applying for a license, prospective substance abuse counselors must first complete 300 internship or practicum hours related to the field. After completing 300 hours, individuals apply to become a PLADC. Once accepted, an additional 6,000 hours of supervised substance abuse counselor experience are required to become a LADC.

The Exam and Application Process for Nebraska Substance Abuse Counselors

In order to become a substance abuse counselor in Nebraska is a two-step process. First, students must apply to become a PLADC holder, then, they apply to become a LADC holder. To practice as a substance abuse counselor unsupervised, individuals are required to become a LADC holder.

The PLADC application process requires that students have:

  • A minimum of a high school diploma or GED (a post-secondary degree also satisfies this requirement).
  • Completed the required 270 hours of coursework in the correct fields.
  • Finished at least 300 hours of an eligible internship or practicum.
  • Demonstrated good moral character and an understanding of the 12 core functions.

Fortunately, no exams are required for the PLADC application.

After completing the application and holding a PLADC, individuals are then required to satisfy the requirements for a LADC and apply for licensing. The requirements include:

  • Meeting the requirements for and holding a PLADC.
  • A passing score on the Alcohol & Drug Counselor (ADC) exam.
  • A minimum of 6,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. All hours must be earned after completing a PLADC. A maximum of 2,000 hours may be earned each year, so three years of supervised work experience are required. Education can replace required hours; for example, a bachelor's degree in counseling or a related field can count as 2,000 hours.
  • Sign a code of ethics.
  • Demonstrate good moral character.

Along with materials demonstrating that the requirements are met, applicants must also submit a pro-rated licensing fee.

Out-of-State Substance Abuse Counselor Candidates

Current substance abuse counselors that are licensed in another state can apply for a license in Nebraska. Applicants must meet the credentials of the IC&RC and submit an application that includes:

  • Documentation from the IC&RC.
  • A complete criminal record.
  • Proof of age (a driver's license or birth certificate).
  • An application fee.

Thanks to reciprocity, the application process for current substance abuse counselors in other states can be relatively easy.

Substance Abuse Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

All licenses expire on September 1st of even years, and both PLADC and LADC holders are required to reapply; however, PLADC holders are only eligible to reapply twice and must earn their LADC prior to the final expiration. Prior to reapplication, substance abuse counselors must have completed 40 hours of approved continuing education. An application fee is also required.

Application renewals cannot be completed online and must be mailed to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

All licenses expire on September 1 of even years, and both PLADC and LADC holders are required to reapply

Resources and Organizations for Substance Abuse Counselors in Nebraska

Students and existing substance abuse counselors have various resources at their disposal. Resources and organizations are excellent ways to find job openings, learn new skills to further your career, or network with fellow substance abuse counselors. Some organizations also act as an advocate for substance abuse counselors.

  • American Society of Addiction Medicine From education to events, members of the American Society of Addiction Medicine enjoy various benefits. ASAM also serves as an advocacy platform for professionals across the nation.
  • International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium All tests required to become a licensed substance abuse counselor in Nebraska are offered through the IC&RC. This body also supplies materials to prepare for exams and credentialing.
  • NAADAC NAADAC, or the Association for Addiction Professionals, is a national leader in substance abuse counselor advocacy, education, and certification. Counselors can find useful ways to specialize their practice through NAADAC.
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA is a federal organization that focuses exclusively on alcoholism and research revolving around the field. Professionals can find funding for grants and education through NIAAA.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse Part of the federal government, the National Institute on Drug Abuse focuses on advancing the understanding of addiction. Professionals can find funding for research and new addiction-related research through the site.
  • Nebraska Licensee Assistance Program (NE LAP) Created specifically for currently licensed health professionals in Nebraska, NE LAP is a free resource that conducts confidential alcohol and substance abuse assessments.
  • Nebraska Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Co-Addiction Professionals As the Nebraska chapter of NAADAC, this group is responsible for organizing local events for substance abuse and addiction counselors. This is a useful resource for networking and education.
  • Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services The official government board of Nebraska that supplies applications for licensing. All substance abuse counselors can find application materials via the site.
  • PublicHealth.org Designed for anyone interested in or currently working as a healthcare professional, PublicHealth.org is an excellent resource for jobs across the nation. Resources specific to addiction counselors are available, too.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration SAMHSA, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, connects substance abuse counselors with grants, training, job and internships, and presentations.

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