Addiction Counselor Requirements in South Dakota

South Dakota addiction counselors are credentialed by the South Dakota Board of Addiction Professionals (BAPP). There are multiple levels of credentialing. A Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) holds a graduate degree. A Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) has pursued college studies in addiction but may or may not hold a degree. Both credentials require supervised experience and passing scores on a written examination. Candidates first come under Board jurisdiction as trainees.

BAPP is a member of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC), and as such, has a residency/ work requirement. To apply in South Dakota, one must live or work in the state 51% of the time.

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Addiction Counselor Trainee (ACT) Requirements

A trainee must have, at the minimum, a high school diploma or general education diploma and must be in a position which entails direct service with people who have been diagnosed with substance abuse or dependency issues.

The trainee will need an hour of supervision for every ten client contact hours; the minimum is eight hours per month. A counselor may hold trainee status for up to five years. Status is renewed annually.

Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) Requirements

A CAC will need 27 hours of coursework, which may be pursued at the undergraduate or graduate level. The following courses are required:

  • Introduction to use and abuse of alcohol
  • Introduction to use and abuse of drugs
  • Individual counseling foundations
  • Group alcohol and drug counseling
  • Treatment continuum
  • Counseling families with drug or alcohol issues
  • Diverse populations
  • Ethics for substance abuse professionals
  • Elective (specific to alcohol/ drug use)

The student must earn at least a ‘C’ in required courses.

Experience requirements vary, depending on the level of the highest behavioral science degree a candidate has earned. With no behavioral science degree, the requirement is 8,000 hours. With an associate’s degree in behavioral sciences from an accredited institution, the requirement is reduced to 6,000 hours. With a bachelor’s degree, the requirement is 4,000 hours. With a graduate degree, it is just 2,000 hours. All candidates will need, as part of their experience, 300 hours of practical training in core functions. Detailed documentation will be required.

Candidates must also achieve a passing score on the IC&RC Written Examination. BAPP refers candidates to the IC&RC for study resources (

Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) Requirements

An LAC candidate must hold a master’s degree in a behavioral science discipline (

The candidate will need 21 semester hours in Board-mandated areas. The Board requires three semester hours in each of the following:

  • Theories and techniques of addiction counseling
  • Psychopathology or psychopharmacology
  • Treatment planning
  • Case management/ assessment of co-occurring disorders
  • Multicultural competency
  • Ethical, legal, and professional standards
  • Clinical supervision

Candidates may not credit courses in which less than a ‘C’ was earned.

The trainee will need 2,000 hours of experience. The experience must include 300 hours of supervised practical training. There must be at least ten hours in each of 12 core functions. The candidate must pass a written IC&RC examination.

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Private Practice by LACs

In order to be deemed eligible for private independent practice, an LAC must have accrued two years of qualifying post-licensure or post-certification practice.

The Application Process

In-state trainees first submit applications at the ACT level. They must verify high school diploma or GED or provide transcripts. They must sign a code of ethics and a release form; they will either attest to not having a past felony or provide information about the disposition. (The Board will consider credentialing an individual if sentencing was five or more years in the past and all sentencing requirements have been completed.) Trainee applications may be requested from the Board.

The certification process entails review of an application portfolio. Specialized education must be approved. A candidate may request a list of approved courses from the Board. If coursework has not been pre-approved, the applicant will submit a review request form along with course descriptions, transcripts, and fee (currently $25). BAPP requires transcript documentation of all post-secondary coursework.

Application materials can be downloaded from the Board website ( Work experience verification, professional recommendation forms, and supervisor evaluation form are included in the application packet. The professionals who complete these documents will return them directly to the Board.

The Board will also require a current job description. A $250 fee is due with the CAC or LAC application ( This covers the cost of the examination.

Candidates will not take the examination until their application portfolios have been approved. In order to be eligible for the next examination, candidates must apply by the deadline listed in the application. Currently, there are just two testing windows a year. Application deadlines are listed as January 1 and July 1. A list of upcoming examination windows is available on the Board site ( A candidate who fails the test will need to submit a letter of intent to re-test along a $200 fee.

A CAC who completes requirements for the LAC license will submit an upgrade application. A candidate who is upgrading pays $150.

Out-of-State Addiction Counselors

Addiction counselors who are credentialed by other IC&RC boards should request a reciprocity application from their current board ( They will pay the $100 reciprocity fee to the IC&RC.

Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS) Requirements

The Board also certifies prevention specialists ( The CPS credential requires a college degree. Individuals cannot be credentialed as trainees until they have completed their bachelor’s. Candidates will need to complete fifteen semester hours of education in Board-mandated areas before certification. They will also need 2,000 hours of experience with 750 hours of practical training. Prevention specialist candidates must pass the applicable IC&RC examination.

Additional Information

The South Dakota Board of Addiction Professionals ( can be reached at 605-332-2645.

The South Dakota Association of Addiction and Prevention Professionals is an additional professional resource (

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