How To Become A Certified Recovery Coach In Maryland

Becoming a recovery coach is a noble pursuit. Recovery coaches – also known as peer recovery specialists – assist those recovering from addiction.

In this article, we will discuss the role of a recovery coach and what certifications are required in Maryland.

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What Does a Recovery Coach Do?

Several roles in the recovery niche are similar to that of a recovery coach, such as a therapist or an AA sponsor. However, there are small differences between these careers.

Recovery coaches, therapists, and sponsors can all work together to assist clients in overcoming substance use and provide them with a positive outlook on life.

Role of a recovery coach

Recovery coaches are future-focused. They do not deal with diagnosis or trauma, but rather help those in recovery to create a plan for their future, to set goals – and achieve them.

Recovery coaches use motivational interviewing to engage with and support those recovering from substance use.

These peer recovery specialists and coaches charge a fee for their services, which is why they need certification and formal training from a recovery coach academy.

Role of a therapist

Therapists also work with those in recovery; however, their clients are dealing with trauma or mental and behavioral health issues. They apply trauma-informed care in their counseling sessions.

Therapists require a license to practice, as well as a formal qualification – usually a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology.

Unlike recovery coaches, therapists focus on their clients’ pasts, trying to analyze patterns and improve future habits.

Role of an AA Sponsor

Alcoholics Anonymous sponsors are volunteers in the AA fellowship that support those in recovery. They offer non-therapeutic support and keep their sponsees accountable for their behaviors.

Sponsors do not require any education; their role is to share the wisdom gained from their experience with drug or alcohol abuse and guide people through the 12 steps.

Recovery Coach Certification Maryland

A peer recovery specialist certification is a must to practice in this industry in Maryland.

Not only will these certifications teach you all the required skills, but they also contribute to your credibility as a coach.

There are various ways to achieve certification; however, the main route in the state is through the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration. You can also follow private routes, such as going for training at the University of Maryland Training Center. There are also options for online training, such as with the International Association of Professional Recovery Coaches.

You will require a certification from the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration if you wish to work in the following places:

  • Hospitals
  • Treatment centers
  • Recovery community organizations.

Everything You Need To Know About Becoming A Recovery Coach in Maryland

Below is all the information you need to become a certified peer recovery specialist in Maryland.

What are the requirements to apply to be a recovery coach or specialist?

  • A high school diploma or GED which must be sent to the Maryland Addiction and Behavioral-Health Professionals Certification Board.
  • In lieu of a high school diploma or GED, college transcripts should be provided.
  • Applicants must be 18 years or older.
  • They must reside in Maryland at least 51% of the time.
  • Self-identify as a person in recovery from the effects of mental health or substance use disorder for at least two years.
  • You do not require any professional requirements to enroll for a training program.

What is the Maryland state-endorsed certification process?

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene endorses the Peer Recovery certification from the IC&RC.

This does not mean it is the only accepted certification in the state; online training and qualifications from private institutions such as the University of Maryland Training Center are also accepted.

What are the training requirements for a certified peer recovery specialist?

To become certified, you must complete 46 hours of education by an organization approved by the Maryland Addiction and Behavioral-Health Professionals Certification Board (MABPCB).

The 46 hours should be within these domains:

  • Ethical Responsibility: 16 hours
  • Advocacy: 10 hours
  • Mentoring and Education: 10 hours
  • Recovery and Wellness: 10 hours

Training for certification must have been completed within the past decade.

Applicants can conduct 12 in-service training hours as part of the required 46 hours. The in-service training hours must be with an agency that is relevant to the domains above.

Applicants must also complete one CORE training.

What are the certification requirements?

The training requirements stipulated above differ from the certification requirements.

  • Complete 500 service hours (paid or volunteer) in a recovery coaching setting (clinical or community) within the past two years. These hours must have been documented and supervised.
  • These hours can be accumulated at various organizations:
    • 25 – 500 hours must be documented by a Registered Peer Supervisor.
    • Supervision must be received twice a month during the 500 hours of service.
    • Supervision must be in accordance with these categories that relate to the four domains (minimum five hours per category): Ethical Responsibility, Recovery and Wellness, Mentoring and Education, Advocacy, and General Supervision.
  • The following documents must be submitted for application for certification:
    • Copies of training certifications (which must total the required 46 hours).
    • Proof of the 500 service hours.
    • Personal recovery statement.
    • Recovery reference record.
    • A release form notarized by a Notary Public.
    • Proof of high school diploma or GED.
    • Application fee.
    • Three reference evaluation forms: one from a sponsor or counselor and two from professionals (such as training instructors or supervisors).
    • Supervision document signed by a Registered Peer Supervisor.
    • Signed Code of Ethics

What are the costs involved in becoming certified?

Costs vary, as it comes down to whether you do online training or in-person training at a Maryland Training Center.

Depending on the facility, training ranges from free of charge to $900. A full breakdown of the costs can be found in the MABPCB guide for Certified Peer Recovery Specialists.

Is there a Maryland Certification Test?

Yes, the exam offered by the IC&RC can be taken at approved testing centers. This is a computer-based exam and can be taken at a time that suits the candidates.

To pass the test, a score of 500 or more must be achieved.

The certification test costs $125, while a re-examination fee of $50 will apply if you need to retake the exam.

How long does certification last?

Your certification will last for two years, and then you will have to apply for certification. The exam does not have to be retaken if the application for recertification is submitted within one year of the certification expiring.

Recertification will not be allowed after 12 months of the certification expiration date. In such an instance, the entire certification process will have to be repeated, including retaking the certification exam.

Are there continuing education requirements?

Yes, there are continuing education requirements (CER) to remain certified. These are as follows:

  • 20 hours of MABPCB-approved peer recovery specialist education within two years of becoming certified. Six of the 20 hours must be focused on Ethical Considerations.
  • Should recertification be desired, the above CER applies, as well as proof and verification that the MABPCB Principles and Guidelines were reviewed and upheld.

THE CERs are tracked by individuals peer recovery specialists who must report these requirements to the MABPCB before their certification expires.

Job Opportunities for Peer Recovery Specialists in Maryland

Certified peer recovery specialists can find employment at the following institutions and organizations:

  • Maryland health departments
  • Recovery residences
  • Detention centers
  • Hospitals
  • Community treatment programs
  • Residential treatment programs
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Drug courts
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Wellness recovery centers
  • Maryland Addiction and Behavioral Health Administration
  • Supportive housing
  • Department of Social Services


Is a background check required to become certified as a peer recovery specialist?

A background check is not required to train or become certified (either online training or in-person at a Recovery Coach Academy); however, future employers may conduct a background track before hiring a peer recovery specialist.

How much does a recovery coach in Maryland earn?

Recovery coaches in Maryland make an average of $42,210 a year.

What are the day-to-day duties of a recovery coach?

Recovery coaches support those with behavioral health or mental health problems. They work with individuals, groups, and with family members to facilitate the recovery process from addiction or mental health problems. Daily tasks include motivational interviewing, asset mapping, daily support sessions and meeting clients at extracurricular activities.

Final Thoughts

Recovery coaches play an important role in monitoring and improving the behavioral health of clients recovering from mental health or substance use disorders.

It is relatively easy to acquire certification in Maryland as long as the training program is endorsed by the Maryland Addiction and Behavioral-Health Professionals Certification Board.