Recovery coaches work with individuals who are actively addicted to or recovering from drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling or other addictive behaviors. A recovery coach understands how addiction works and that addicts need support as they go through the highs and lows of recovery. They act as a sounding board to help addicts make good decisions and reduce the harm associated with addiction. Coaches may also work with families and friends of addicts.
Although all of the above responsibilities may seem straightforward, recovery coaches lead complicated careers. They have one foot in the realm of understanding human behavior and the other in technical support, such as connecting clients to community resources, treatment facilities, educational programs and more.
What a recovery coach does not do is also essential. For example, recovery coaches do not diagnose their clients and do not offer primary treatment. Instead, they work as a support system for clients who are also seeking mental and physical services elsewhere to help combat their addiction.
Aside from the practicalities of the job, coaches with the following traits will also do well in helping their clients work toward recovery and sobriety:
- A positive attitude
- Recognition of both highs and lows in the recovery process; it is not linear
- Goal-focused support
- Understanding of how the brain works and processes addiction
- The ability to focus on the present
Focusing on the present is one approach that differentiates a recovery coach from a therapist. Recovery coaches don’t go over past trauma or why someone may be addicted; instead, they focus on the present, setting up current goals and discussing how to approach the future to maintain a healthy life and relationships.
Personal experience with addiction is also helpful for those who decide to become recovery coaches. In this case, adjacent job titles may include Peer Recovery Coach, Peer Specialist or Recovery Support Specialist.
Does Florida Require Certification for Recovery Coaches?
Yes, the state of Florida Certification Board requires all Recovery Coaches to be certified in this area. Interested parties can create an account on their website to view approved training programs in Florida.
Most certification programs require a set number of hours of experience in addition to taking the training course itself. There is also an exam at the end of each program.
The following are some statistics that show the relationship between addicts, addiction and counselors:
- 19.7 million people aged 12 or older have had a substance use disorder in the past year (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
- By 2025, the demand for addiction and substance abuse treatment will exceed the supply of substance abuse counselors by 13% (Health Resources and Services Administration)
- By 2026, the projected growth for substance abuse counselors is 23% (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
As of 2022, the number of individuals struggling with addiction far outweighs the number of available counselors, professionals and resources. Therefore, the recovery coach career is considered stable and has a projected growth of 23% by 2026.
In Florida, the average salary for this position is $13.20 per hour. The annual salary range is between $28,000 and $30,000. Certifications, experience, continued education and the type of employer can all affect how much a recovery coach earns.
Where are Recovery Coaches Employed?
Due to the vast nature of addiction, recovery coaches can find employment in various settings. Most commonly, they work in recovery institutes, the criminal justice system (including directly with prisoners), emergency rooms, child welfare agencies, primary care offices, sober homes and homeless shelters. Recovery coaches can also choose to work one-on-one with clients via their own operations.
Recovery Coach Certification Programs in Florida
A career in recovery coaching can be broken down into several specific areas; therefore, certification may vary depending on the area of expertise. In particular, recovery coaches, often distinguished as “peer specialists” or “peer recovery coaches,” are required to have personal experience with addiction, most often in the form of having a prior addiction. Programs will ask prospective peer specialists to attest to their lived experience.
For those who haven’t dealt directly with addiction but still want to help addicts and affected community members, the title “recovery coach” is most often used. In this career niche, individuals aren’t required to have lived experience but must still undergo the proper training and certification process.
There are some distinct differences between the two certifications and their requirements that the Florida Board of Certification outlines:
- Peer Specialist
- 40 hours of training
- 10 Continuing Education hours annually
- 500 hours of supervised work or volunteer experience
- Recovery Coach/Recovery Specialist
- 75 hours of training
- 10 Continuing Education hours annually
- 1000 hours of formal work or volunteer experience
Additionally, certification comes with the following fees:
- Certification application: $100
- Manual application processing fee: $25
- Certified Recovery Support Specialist Exam: $65
- Annual renewal: $75
Peer Specialist Certification
The Florida Certification Board created a national peer specialist certification to ensure that specialists have both experience and knowledge that makes them capable in this career. The National Certified Peer Specialist (NCPS) program has the following requirements:
- A professional letter of recommendation
- A supervisory letter of recommendation
- Attest to lived experience
- 3,000 hours of supervised work or volunteer work providing recovery support services
- Passing grade on the NCPS exam
- Agree to be bound by the NCPS Code of Ethics
To maintain this certification, participating coaches must complete 20 hours of continuing education credits every two years and continue to follow the Code of Ethics. The program has several fees associated with it for application, examination and renewal. A three-hour exam is required.
Like the NCPS program, the Certified Recovery Peer Specialist (CRPS) program offered by the Florida Certification Board is appropriate for those interested in practicing in the state of Florida only. Individuals with lived experience complete this training to help others on their journey to recovery.
There are two different pathways for the CRPS credential:
- Two-phase application process: You meet the education, training and testing requirements but do not have the required work or volunteer experience
- Standard application process: You meet the education, training, work experience and testing requirements
Applicants to this program should be aware that, unlike the NCPS program, it does not provide national certification in Peer Support Recovery.
Recovery Specialist Certification
The Addictions Training Institute (ATI) aims to meet the need for professionals in the field of substance abuse counseling by providing training programs. Their programs span 47 U.S. states, including Florida.
The Certified Recovery Support Specialist program offered through ATI includes 75 hours of education, 1000 hours of paid or volunteer experience and 24 hours of supervised work experience. Participants are expected to pass the IC&RC Peer Recovery Examination to become certified.
NET Institute offers a Florida Certification Board Approved online, self-paced training for those interested in becoming a recovery coach. The benefit of this program is that training is flexible and can fit any lifestyle. Prospective students can work at their own pace to complete the training, and the program estimates a completion time of eight weeks with about 9.5 hours of study each week.
Participants in the program can also utilize lived experience, but NET Institute defines this as different from a “peer” experience. Lived experience can encompass having experience with a loved one or community member struggling with addiction in their life.
The Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) training includes the following eight courses:
- Recovery Management
- Authentic Recovery
- Domestic Violence
- Co-Occurring Disorders
- Addiction Counseling Practices
- Street Drugs Overview
- Recovery Management
- Recovery Support Services
Participants should be ready to purchase two textbooks necessary for the course, which are available in paperback, hardback or Kindle versions.
The Academy of Addiction Professionals recommends their CRSS course for anyone looking to provide support in the addiction field; administrative, technical or clinical. Following the recommendation by the Florida Board of Certification, the program consists of 75 trained hours. Prospective students will need a high school diploma or GED to participate.
The Academy’s CRSS course is available online only, so in-person classes are not an option. They do offer financial aid and tuition reimbursement programs for students who qualify. Classes in the program focus on the following areas:
- Risk/Crisis Management
- Active Care Coordination
- Social Development
- Addiction and Brain Chemistry
- Lapse/Relapse Prevention
The Academy follows the Florida Board of Certification’s recommendation that each student also provides three professional letters of recommendation, a signed statement agreeing to follow the FCB’s Code of Ethics, completion of the exam and continued education. This institution also provides programs adjacent to the Recovery Coach training in the following areas: Certified Behavioral Health Technician, Certified Recovery Residence Administrator and Certified Addiction Counselor.