Substance Abuse Counselor Requirements in North Dakota

North Dakota requires addiction counselors to be licensed. They are licensed and regulated by the North Dakota State Board of Addiction Counseling Examiners. The Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) credential is granted on the basis of education, supervised training, and examination. An in-state candidate will come under board jurisdiction while completing training.

North Dakota Licensed Addiction Counselors can earn private practice status. The requirements can be met sooner if one has a master’s degree. However, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient.

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Licensed Addiction Counselor Educational Requirements

A Licensed Addiction Counselor will need a degree at the bachelor’s level or higher (

It may be in addictions or in a related field (provided that the candidate can demonstrate 32 credit hours of addictions study). Licensees will need at least three credits in each of the following:

  • Human development across the lifespan
  • Addiction dynamics
  • Treatment theories and techniques
  • Group counseling
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Family systems
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Cultural competence

The student will need two credits in professional ethics. A description of the content that must be covered in each required courses is found in 4.5-02.1-01-03 of state administrative code (

Addiction studies programs with any of the following accreditations can be expected to meet coursework requirements:

  • International Coalition for Addiction Studies and Education Accreditation
  • National Addiction Studies Accreditation Committee
  • Counsel for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (if the program is in addiction counseling)

Training Requirements

The North Dakota Board requires 1,400 hours of clinical training; hours are to be accrued in a board approved program ( A list of approved training programs is found on the Board site ( The Board has a process by which individualized training plans can be approved.

An individual cannot become a trainee until all or most educational requirements have been met. It is permissible to take two required courses concurrently with training. Trainee registration is granted for two years. It may be extended in certain circumstances

Trainees in approved programs receive at least 50 hours of supervision ( They can expect direct observation of at least 30 hours of the work that they perform in each of the following clinical areas:

  • Counseling services
  • Screening, assessment, treatment planning
  • Case management, service coordination, referral
  • Multicultural counseling, ethics, education

The trainee’s documentation skills will also be monitored.

An individual who has completed training may request intern status.

An individual who has completed a program not approved by the board will need to demonstrate that training was substantially equivalent.

A professional can credit a year of experience as a licensed mental health professional or substance abuse counselor as 150 hours. If the license was in a field other than addiction counseling, a maximum of 900 training hours can be credited. The professional will still need 500 hours of training addressing the DSM, ASAM patient criteria, and counseling domains.

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Examination Requirements

Candidates take the IC&RC AODA written examination ( They may not attempt the examination until all coursework has been completed. It will be necessary to submit an examination application. The examination fee (currently $155) is to be submitted with the examination application. If a candidate is simultaneously submitting coursework for approval, it may take several weeks for review to be completed. If coursework has already been accepted, the approval process is generally quicker. An approved candidate will receive registration information via email.

The examination is administered via computer year-round. North Dakota has examination sites in Minot and Bismarck. The candidate will bring a copy of the eligibility email to the examination site.

The Application Process

A candidate who trains in North Dakota will come under board jurisdiction as a trainee. Training consortiums will register their trainees ( Later, they will verify completion. At this point, the candidate will submit a license application.

Applications can be downloaded from the Board site ( A candidate will need three reference letters. A first-time candidate will need to submit official transcripts, training documentation, and verification of exam scores if applying at the counselor level.

License fees will depend on the part of the renewal cycle in which the application is received; the fee schedule is included in the application.

Out-of-State Addiction Counselors

Out-of-state addiction counselors will need to provide verification of all licenses, past and present.

The counselor may apply by reciprocity if 1) the license is currently in good standing and 2) the other jurisdiction’s requirements were at least equal to those of North Dakota. The Board notes that reciprocity applications must be approved by the full Board and that the process can take as long as several months.

Private Practice Registration

A Licensed Addiction Counselor with a master’s degree in a social science or healthcare field can be registered as a private practice addiction counselor after as little as 4,000 hours (two years of post-master, post-licensure practice). Without a qualifying master’s, the requirement is 10,000 hours (

The addiction counselor will submit an application that includes a description of the intended practice. The counselor will need to document either experience or education. There is a $100 fee.

Clinical Supervisor Registration

A Licensed Addiction Counselor can be registered as a clinical supervisor after practicing at that level for three years (6,000 hours). It is necessary to do 20 hours of training and secure references.

Additional Information

The North Dakota State Board of Addiction Counseling Examiners may be contacted by email, using the link found on the home page ( Applicants may call (701) 255-1439 if they have questions.

The North Dakota Addiction Counselors Association does not issue licenses but serves as an additional professional resource (

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