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2023 Best Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees in Wisconsin

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 10/25/2023

Our list below highlights online substance use counseling degrees in Wisconsin at all available program levels, including certificates. Students pursuing careers in substance use and addiction counseling often start by earning certificates or degrees that may qualify them to obtain licensure. Earning an online bachelor's in substance use counseling may be a good first step toward entering this field. Online programs are affordable and convenient ways to start learning about the theories of addictions counseling, effective interventions and treatments, and how chemical dependency can impact individuals and their families. For those on a budget, we also list the most affordable online substance use counseling programs

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Northcentral Technical College

  • Locations: Wausau
  • Annual Tuition: $5,415

Wausau's Northcentral Technical College (NTC) is a mid-sized community college that's part of the Wisconsin Technical College system. It offers online programs in substance use counseling at three levels.

  • The Associate in Substance Use Disorder Counseling is a 65-credit program that prepares students for licensure in Wisconsin as substance use counselors in-training to qualify for entry-level positions in the field. It takes full-time students about two years to complete this undergraduate degree. Some examples of courses include Counseling Theory, Psychopharmacology, and Crisis Intervention and Stress Management. Graduates often work in community and social service agencies, correctional facilities, and other environments where substance use counseling is offered.
  • Students may choose to start gaining training in substance abuse counseling through the Substance Abuse Counselor Education Technical Diploma. This 27-credit online program ladders into the aforementioned associate degree program. Full-time students can finish in about a year. Courses include Understanding Substance Abuse, Group Facilitation, and Foundations of Case Management. Potential careers include intake counselors and assessment counselors.
  • The Substance Use Disorder Counseling Specialization Certificate is designed for individuals holding (or in the process of gaining) licensure as counselors, certified social workers, or family therapists in Wisconsin. This 18-credit online certificate program fulfills state requirements. Students can finish in one to two terms and take courses including Family Systems, Introduction to the SUDC Profession, and Boundaries & Ethics - Helping Professions.

NTC delivers its 100% online curriculum asynchronously via the popular software Canvas. The school supports distance learners by providing remote access to student resources such as the library, bookstore, tech support, and advising.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 76%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $4,431
  • Repayment Rate: 86%
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Retention Rate: 63%
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 2,300 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: N/A
  • Certificate Online: 337 enrolled

Ottawa University - Milwaukee

  • Locations: Brookfield
  • Annual Tuition: $9,368

American-Baptist Ottawa University - Milwaukee (OU) is a small, private institution in suburban Brookfield. As a faith-based institution, OU may also require students to complete courses in religion or theology as part of university requirements. It offers online addiction counseling programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

  • The Bachelor of Science in Addiction Counseling is a 120-credit online program which is accelerated so students can finish in less than four years if they choose. It is designed to meet state board behavioral health licensing/certification requirements and includes two 150-hour practicums/internships. Students must complete 39 major credits in courses, such as Clinical Addiction Counseling Issues, Legal and Ethical Issues of Addiction Counseling, and Psychopathological and Co-occurring Disorders. This online degree helps prepare students for careers in addiction counseling agencies, residential treatment facilities, outpatient treatment centers, and government agencies, to name a few.
  • The Master of Science in Addiction Counseling is an accelerated online graduate program, which is accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission. Students must complete 39 credits and 300 practicum hours to meet the educational requirements for licensure as substance use and addiction counselors. Courses include Law and Ethics in Addiction Counseling, Multicultural Concerns in Addiction Counseling, and Methods and Models of Research in Addictions Counseling. Graduates who obtain licensure often work in schools, clinics, churches, private practice, community health centers, and criminal justice.

OU's distance learners use the software Blackboard to log in to their online classes asynchronously. Both accelerated programs have eight-week terms so students can finish faster. Online student resources include career development, tech support, remote library access, and disability services.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: N/A
  • Avg. Aid Package: N/A
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: N/A
  • Retention Rate: N/A
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 78 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 68 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: N/A
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Overview of Substance Use Counseling Degrees in Wisconsin

In a state-by-state comparison of drug use and related metrics, the state of Wisconsin is in a fairly good position. WalletHub's recent study shows that the Badger State weighs in at number 31 on the list. 

However, regional authorities note that methamphetamines, heroin, and fentanyl-laced opioids still pose a major threat to residents, especially in rural areas where there are fewer resources for people struggling with substance use disorders. Lawmakers, public health advocates, and others are calling for more funding and more programs to help address this crisis. Future initiatives must include an increase in the number of trained substance abuse counselors who are licensed to work in Wisconsin.

FAQs About Substance Use Counseling Degrees in Wisconsin

What Can You Do With a Substance Use Counselor Degree in Wisconsin?

Whether you've earned a traditional or online substance abuse counseling degree, you can follow several career paths in the state of Wisconsin.

Naturally, you can become a substance abuse counselor who works directly with clients in one-on-one or group counseling situations. Technically, you don't need a degree to obtain licensure, but you will need extensive college education, so you will probably want to earn at least a bachelor's degree, if not a master's degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the approximately 6,840 substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors currently working in this state earn a mean annual salary of $54,330. This occupation has a bright outlook, as ProjectionCentral anticipates an 18.5% growth in the number of substance abuse counseling jobs in Wisconsin from 2020 to 2030.

Other options include working for a government agency or nonprofit organization, such as a prevention program or treatment center. Specifically, you could work as a community service worker, health education specialist, or fundraiser. 

How Do I Become a Substance Use Counselor in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, substance abuse counselors obtain their license to practice through the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). In this state, there is only one type of substance abuse counseling certification.

Becoming a substance use counselor in Wisconsin is a three-step process:

  1. First, you must complete 360 hours of college education on addiction counseling and substance abuse disorder, which translates to about 24 courses. 
  2. Second, you must pass two exams — the NCAC I Exam, sponsored by the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), and the Wisconsin Statutes and Administrative Code Exam. 
  3. Finally, you must complete 3,000 hours of relevant work experience. Of these, at least 500 hours must be devoted to providing one-on-one substance use counseling, and an additional 500 hours may be devoted to any type of substance use counseling. 

As part of your college coursework, you may want to pursue an advanced degree in behavioral science or clinical counseling. If you're considering earning a master's degree online, you may want to review options on our lists of the best online substance abuse counseling master's degrees and the most affordable online substance abuse counseling master's degrees

To continue providing in-person or online substance abuse counseling in Wisconsin, you must renew your certification every other year. To qualify, you must complete 30 hours of continuing education.

Does Wisconsin Have Reciprocity for Substance Use Counselors?

Wisconsin grants reciprocity to a limited number of licensed substance abuse counselors from other states. If you are currently certified in California, Minnesota, Washington, Colorado, or North Carolina, you may be able to transfer your addiction counseling credential to this state. 

How Long Does It Take to Become A Substance Abuse Counselor in Wisconsin?

The number of years it takes to become a substance abuse counselor in Wisconsin varies depending on how quickly you can complete your education and accumulate a sufficient amount of work experience in the field. Given that you need to complete 24 college courses in substance abuse counseling, you are likely to earn a bachelor's degree and probably a master's degree. This first step alone may take six or seven years if you study full time. You also need the equivalent of about three years of work experience, but some of this can be accomplished while earning your degrees.

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