How to Become a Professional Recovery Coach in Arizona

Around 80% of people who complete a drug or alcohol rehab program and are in recovery reported better overall well-being after completing the program. However, a big part of the recovery process is the help of a supportive recovery coach.

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A recovery coach is someone who has overcome their own addiction or behavioral health issues and has been specifically trained to help others in their recovery journey. As a recovery coach, you might meet with others in a group or one-on-one setting, help others identify their needs and seek options to help them through recovery and help others through difficult times, including relapses. Recovery coaches are also known as recovery support specialists or peer support specialists.

Requirements to Work as a Recovery Coach in Arizona

The career of a recovery coach or peer and recovery support specialist is not federally regulated. Each state determines its own qualifications for someone to work in recovery support. The general requirements to work as a recovery coach in Arizona are that one must have a high school diploma or GED, live or work in Arizona more than 50 % of the time and be personally in recovery.

For certification, those interested in working as a recovery coach must complete 500 paid or volunteer work hours in a field related to the one in which they wish to work (25 of those hours being supervised) and complete a state-approved training program that is 46 hours and includes the following:

  • 10 advocacy hours
  • 10 education/mentor hours
  • 10 recovery and wellness support hours
  • 16 ethical responsibility hours

Recovery coaches must also take and pass a competency examination recognized by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). In Arizona, the IC&RC exam for recovery coaches is the Certified Peer Recovery Specialist exam administered by the Arizona Board for Certification of Addiction Counselors (ABCAC).

Download and complete the application found on the ABCAC website to take the exam. Submit it along with the required $50 application fee. Once your application has been approved, you can take the Certified Peer Recovery Specialist exam, which includes a $150 exam fee. Once you have passed the exam and signed the ABCAC Peer Recovery Specialist Code of Ethical conduct, you can work as a certified recovery coach in Arizona.

Certification must be renewed every two years. The renewal fee is $100. You must also complete 20 hours of continuing education, approved by the ABCAC, including six hours in ethics and three hours in cultural diversity. If your certification lapses for more than a year after the date you need to re-certify, you will need to reapply for certification.

Training Programs in Arizona

There are several programs where you can receive training and certification as a recovery coach or peer support specialist in Arizona. Most of these are approved by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). Here is an overview of some of the programs:

The Recovery Empowerment Network (REN) offers a peer support specialist certification that is recognized worldwide. REN trains individuals in recovery to become peer support specialists or recovery coaches to others by first helping in their recovery journey.

They offer recovery support training monthly. The training consists of mandatory orientation, twelve classroom days and five practicum days. Those who complete the support training will receive a certificate.

Additional training programs include Advanced Peer Support, CPR, First Aid and AED, Forensic Peer Support, Mental Health First Aid and Opioid Use Disorder Support.

STAR has a four-day peer support certification course offered monthly via Zoom. The first three days focus on group facilitation, and the final day is reserved for studying and completing the exam. The course cost is $400, and you will receive your certificate after you have paid for and passed the exam.

The University of Arizona gives those in recovery the chance to work in peer support through their Arizona Division of Behavioral Sciences (DBHS) approved certification program.

One of their programs is the Integrated Healthcare Recovery Support Specialist Institute (IHRSSI), which is a ten-day program that trains people with either mental health challenges or substance abuse issues to support others on their recovery journey. This program provides certification.

Also available is the Peerworks apprenticeship program. This six-month program trains people to work with recoverees in the public mental health and substance use sectors. Once training is complete, you’re certified to work as a peer support specialist in Arizona and can complete the apprenticeship. The apprenticeship is paid, and you’ll be able to apply for a full-time position at the end.

The peer support training program offered by Nazcare includes 60 instruction hours, including homework assignments, group instruction and facilitated groups. Classes are small, with only six to 15 people in each group. Classes fill up fast, so check the calendar on their website for available dates.

RI offers Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS) training. The training program lasts two weeks (76 hours). It focuses on developing peer support skills, developing and supporting one’s recovery, and recognizing one’s responsibilities and strengths as a certified peer. Individuals must have a high school diploma or GED and their own lived experience with recovery.

The Peer Support and Advocacy Training (PSAT) program at Coyote TaskForce (CTF) is an eight-week course that combines hands-on practice with classroom learning. The program is taught online, with the exception of orientation, the final exam and graduation.

To enroll, students must be high school graduates or hold a GED and have a working computer with internet access and a webcam. If they are behavioral health students, they must be enrolled with AHCCCS and have a referral from their behavioral health agency. Furthermore, they must identify as someone with a lived experience of either mental illness or substance use and be successfully established in their recovery journey.

Classes fill up fast and keep a waiting list, so those interested in this program are encouraged to complete the referral process immediately so they can get on the list.

The continuing education program offered at Arizona Western College is presented in connection with the ed2go curriculum, which offers several programs and certifications entirely online. This program can be taken after you have already received certification to continue your education, or you can take it as a preparatory course before you get certified.

The continuing education credits offered by this program are recognized by the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) and the IC&RC. The course consists of 60 credit hours, and students will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course. This is a self-paced course, and students are given six months from the time they register for the course to complete it.

Since this is an online course, students must have a working computer with internet access and email capabilities. This program prepares students to work as a Personal Recovery Coach and gain confidence in working with others who are in active addiction or struggling with mental illness.

Outlook and Salaries in Arizona

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not recognize the career of recovery coaches in a category by themselves. Instead, their data is collected among a larger group of professionals known as health education specialists and community health workers.

In 2021, the annual average salary for this group of workers nationally was $48,860, or $23.49 hourly. Community health workers in Arizona made an annual average of $44,250. Keep in mind that this is an average for the group as a whole, not just recovery coaches.

According to Intuit, the reported average annual salary for recovery coaches in Arizona was $28,000. Indeed lists job openings for recovery coaches in Arizona with salaries ranging from $30,000-$55,000, with the majority falling in the $30,000-$35,000 range.

The Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) states that careers for community health workers are growing at a rate of 21.1% nationally and 36.3% in Arizona. Both of these growth rates are higher than average, which is good. Approximately 200 new jobs become available annually for Arizona community health workers, including recovery coaches.

Working as a Certified Recovery Coach in Arizona

The job and salary outlook for working as a certified recovery coach in Arizona look promising for the next several years. Recovery coaches work in various settings, including behavioral health centers, child welfare agencies, community centers, drug courts, emergency departments, halfway houses, homeless shelters and primary care centers. Places that offer training, such as the Recovery Empowerment Network, also post job openings. Keep an eye out for job listings on those websites.

Since addiction and behavioral health issues are dealt with in all cities, finding work as a recovery coach in Arizona should not be difficult. Because they are larger, more populated cities, places like Peoria, Phoenix and Tuscon have more job openings for recovery coaches than other cities. Tempe and Tuscon are among the higher-paying cities for this career in Arizona.