How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in South Dakota

Substance abuse counseling careers often appeal to individuals who are passionate about helping others recover from trauma and addiction. To succeed in this profession, individuals need problem-solving skills, communication abilities, and knowledge of physiological and mental aspects of addiction. To ensure counselors hold these qualifications, state boards set requirements for licensure and certification, such as relevant field experience and coursework.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), South Dakota has the third-highest concentration of substance abuse and behavioral counselor positions. Additionally, the BLS projects a 23% increase in these positions from 2016-2026. This data reflects the ample career opportunities for substance abuse counselors in the state.

This guide includes information about how to become a counselor in South Dakota, including steps for obtaining licensure. The sections below also list professional resources and organizations that support South Dakota counseling professionals.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in South Dakota

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in South Dakota here

Education and Experience Requirements

The South Dakota counselor board — the South Dakota Board of Addiction and Prevention Professionals — oversees certification and licensure for substance abuse counselors in the state. Candidates for counseling licensure in South Dakota must fulfill academic and practicum requirements. These experiences ensure theoretical and practical knowledge of addiction, treatment, and recovery.

Academic Requirements

The South Dakota counselor board sets the standards and requirements for becoming a counselor in South Dakota. Academic requirements vary by credential.

The Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) credential requires candidates to hold a high school diploma or equivalent. The Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) credential requires a master's degree in a behavioral science discipline from a nationally or regionally accredited school. Candidates can determine a school's accreditation status through the school's website, the U.S. Department of Education database, or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website.


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

Candidates for counseling licensure must complete state-mandated coursework. South Dakota counseling requirements for CAC candidates include 27 graduate or undergraduate credits in specified topics, such as alcohol and drug group counseling, foundations of individual counseling, alcohol and drug treatment continuum, and ethics for the alcohol and drug professional.

LAC candidates must hold a master's degree and must complete 21 credits in certain topics. These credits must include at least five graduate courses and must examine subjects including multicultural competency, treatment planning, addiction counseling theories and techniques, and psychopathology or psychopharmacology.

Candidates pursuing either credential must earn grades of C or better in all state-mandated courses.

Practicum and Supervised Practice

Substance abuse counselor candidates must have supervised experience to obtain licensure. CAC candidates with a high school diploma need 8,000 hours, while those with an associate, bachelor's, or graduate degree only need 6,000, 4,000, or 2,000 hours, respectively. Candidates need at least 300 training hours in 12 specified areas, including treatment planning and case management. LAC candidates need 2,000 supervised hours in substance abuse counseling, with 300 hours in those 12 areas.

The Exam and Application Process for South Dakota Substance Abuse Counselors

Individuals exploring how to become a substance abuse counselor in South Dakota should research exam requirements for different license types. CAC and LAC candidates must pass the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) exam for addictions counseling.

IC&RC exams use a multiple-choice format, and each exam includes a specific fee, number of questions, and time limit. For example, the alcohol and drug counselor exam comprises 150 questions covering topics related to treatment, assessment, and counseling. Test takers must complete the exam in three hours. IC&RC provides online study guides and practice exams. Practice tests typically include 50 questions and cost $49.

Substance abuse counselor candidates must have supervised experience to obtain licensure

CAC and LAC candidates must live or work more than half their time within the South Dakota counselor board's coverage area. This must include paid or unpaid work experience assisting individuals with issues related to drug or alcohol addiction.

CAC and LAC candidates must submit the appropriate forms, a $250 application fee, and a $25 fee for application materials. Applicants must provide logs demonstrating supervised experience hours, supervisor evaluations, and three recommendations from academic or professional references.

Candidates for counseling licensure submit requests for specialized classes, including syllabi, transcripts, and a $25 fee for three reviewal submissions.

Out-of-State Substance Abuse Counselor Candidates

The South Dakota Board of Addiction and Prevention Professionals maintains IC&RC membership, which means professionals licensed in other states can transfer their credentials to South Dakota. However, candidates may need to complete supplementary coursework or assessments before receiving a state license. Additionally, not all IC&RC areas offer the same credentials, so some out-of-state counselors may hold a license that is not comparable to any South Dakota credentials.

To apply for reciprocity, counselors should first contact the state board for the relocation area. Candidates must then submit an application form to their local board, which delivers the application to IC&RC. If approved, IC&RC informs the board in the candidate's relocation area. The reciprocity application costs $150.

Substance Abuse Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Substance abuse counselors in South Dakota must renew their licenses by the end of their birth months, every other year. To renew their credentials, CACs and LACs must complete 40 approved hours of professional training. Individuals with multiple credentials must complete 60 hours. Additionally, retired counselors must earn half of the typically required training hours for renewal.

Substance abuse counselors in South Dakota must renew their licenses by the end of their birth months, every other year

The renewal application includes a report on training dates, activity names, and sponsors. The South Dakota counselor board may audit candidates regarding training hours. CAC and LAC renewals cost $175 and $200, respectively.

Resources and Organizations for Substance Abuse Counselors in South Dakota

Many professional organizations offer training opportunities, publications, webinars, and job boards. These organizations help members improve their skills and advance their careers. Professional organizations often host conferences, meetings, seminars, and workshops related to addiction and counseling; some of these opportunities fulfill continuing education requirements for certification and license renewal. Members typically have access to blogs and newsletters with current information about the field.

  • American Addictions Centers AAC offers a blog that covers topics such as youth addiction, prescription drugs, and employment challenges related to addiction. The organization also provides resources about recovery and treatment, along with substance abuse statistics for various locations and concerns, such as drunk driving.
  • American Counseling Association ACA offers continuing education opportunities for counselors. Members can access resources including books and journals. ACA also offers archived webinars, a job board, and an annual conference and expo.
  • Center on Addiction This organization delivers resources that explore addiction, prevention, and treatment. Website visitors can browse blog posts on topics such as parental influence on addiction prevention and can access books, articles, and reports on substance abuse.
  • Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America CADCA hosts events like the National Leadership Forum and provides resources on topics such as marijuana and alcohol intake. Candidates can obtain CADCA training through the Mid-Year Training Institute and the National Coalition Academy.
  • Drug Abuse Resistance Education D.A.R.E encourages K-12 students to refrain from drug use and provides resources on substances like tobacco, opioids, and marijuana. The group hosts the annual D.A.R.E. International Training Conference, which lasts several days and includes workshops.
  • National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers NAATP provides a job board and a publication called Addiction Leader. The organization hosts a yearly conference and offers training and webinars on topics such as substance abuse among youth and the impact of ADHD on addiction.
  • National Board for Certified Counselors NBCC provides licensure information for various states, including available credentials and steps to obtaining licensure. The group also offers continuing education resources and publishes a newsletter, NBCC Visions.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse NIDA funds research on topics such as AIDS and neuroscience. The organization offers resources related to addictive drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine. NIDA also provides information about events such as the International Narcotics Research Conference.
  • South Dakota State Medical Association Members of this association can access webinars and seminars, a newsletter, and the journal South Dakota Medicine. Professionals may need a medical credential to join the association.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration SAMHSA provides field-related publications and training, including toolkits and resources on things like opioid overdose and suicide prevention. The group funds relevant programs and offers a newsletter and blog posts on topics such as bipolar disorder and underage drinking.

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