Vermont offers many paths to becoming a recovery coach. Instead of one central certification from the state, recovery coaches can pursue certification through various organizations. Most of these organizations utilize training from Recovery Coach Academy (RCA) and IC&RC certification because these are accepted by the state.
Vermont recognizes the importance of peer support across countless life experiences. When someone experiences a tragedy, illness, addiction issue or mental health diagnosis, having the support of someone who has already been through it is invaluable. This is certainly true for people who are in recovery from substance use or behavioral health disorders.
A recovery coach has lived personal experience with substance use, mental health concerns, or a combination of the two. These individuals use their experiences to support newer people in their recovery journey.
Recovery coaches must participate in a training program to effectively do the work. Plus, getting hired in a peer recovery position is nearly impossible without training. Even volunteer coaches need to be trained to be great, ethical coaches.
Vermont offers many training opportunities for coaches. Sometimes there is overlap between organizations and networks. Two different organizations may utilize the same training curriculum to prepare their participants for coaching jobs.
Recovery Partners of Vermont is comprised of 12 partner organizations throughout the state:
- Kingdom RecoveryCenter in St. Johnsbury
- Jenna’s Promise in Johnson
- Journey to Recovery Community Center in Newport
- Turning Point Center of Bennington in Bennington
- Turning Point Center of Central Vermont in Barre
- Upper Valley Turning Point in White River Junction
- Turning Point Center of Springfield in Springfield
- Turning Point Center of Rutland in Rutland
- Turning Point of Windham County in Battleboro
- Vermont Foundation of Recovery in Essex Junction
- Turning Point Center of Addison County in Middlebury
These organizations work together to provide recovery resources to anyone in Vermont who needs their services. Their goal is to ensure that no matter where a person lives in Vermont, they have full access to recovery resources to help them succeed.
They train, hire, and supervise peer recovery coaches to participate in the process. These are great places for pre-certified coaches to start their volunteer or paid coaching work. Certified coaches look to these organizations for work placements as well.
The Vermont Recovery Coach Academy (VRCA) provides training to aspiring and continuing recovery coaches. VRCA is a part of Recovery Vermont, founded by the Vermont Association of Mental Health and Addiction Recovery (VAMHAR) in 1997. For more than 20 years, Recovery Vermont has been meeting the needs of Vermont residents with mental health conditions, substance use issues and any combination of those two things.
RCA curriculum covers:
- Certification principles
- Ethics of coaching
- Conduct rules
- Standards of behavior
To be eligible to participate in the VRCA, prospective coaches must be currently working or volunteering in addiction recovery settings within Vermont. Addiction recovery settings include recovery centers, residencies, employment agencies, treatment centers, prevention programs and harm reduction programs.
Importantly, recovery coaches must have at least one year of continuous recovery (self-attested), a supervisor, and access to the internet. The Recovery Center director must sign off on each participant’s admission to the training program. The VRCA costs $900, but full scholarships are available on a case-by-case basis.
After completing the program, coaches are certified and recognized by the state of Vermont. They can receive international certification by taking and passing the IC&RC exam and working with the Vermont Department of Health Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs (ADAP).
All VRCA training is exclusively offered online through a series of live sessions via Zoom. The shift from in-person to virtual training began in 2020. It has continued because online training has proven successful, effective and accessible.
Virtual VRCA training over Zoom allows participants from all over the state to undergo training, regardless of how far they live from a metropolitan area. Training sessions don’t have to be canceled because of inclement weather either, which is helpful in Vermont’s long, cold winters. Applicants must have consistent internet access for the entire training course.
The training program is 46 hours long and takes place over one work week. It consists of group work and independent work. Participants must be on camera 100% of the time during live sessions, which last from 9 am to 3 pm.
These slots fill up before the training sessions begin, so be sure to sign up early. Applications are available six weeks before each training occurs.
Making a choice to pursue certification is making a choice to open the door to professional opportunities. It’s choosing to make a difference in the lives of people in recovery.
As of 2021, there were 111 Certified Recovery Coaches (CRCs) in Vermont, with room for more.
To apply for certification, prospective CRCs must meet the following qualifications:
- Already be employed or volunteering at an organization or facility that provides recovery resources to people in Vermont
- Complete the Vermont Recovery Coach Academy (VRCA) program (other programs may be approved)
- Have worked 500+ hours as a volunteer or paid recovery coach within the last seven years
- 25 of those 500 hours must have been directly supervised by a Recovery Coach Supervisor
- Have a High School Diploma or GED
Every two years, CRCs must go through a recertification process. Eligibility for recertification requires certified coaches to work or volunteer for a recovery-related resource in Vermont and complete 20 hours of Continuing Education Units (CEUs).
Of those 20 hours of CEUs, six must be in ethics, six must be in motivational interviewing, and eight can be from any approved training program on topics of the CRC’s choosing. CRC applicants must also have undergone 20 hours of mentorship with a Recovery Coach Supervisor. That supervisor must sign off on the certification renewal application.
First-time applicants in Vermont must pass the International Recovery Coach Certification Exam, administered by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC).
After registering to take the exam, applicants receive an admission letter that contains instructions for the following:
- How to access the testing center
- What to bring with you to the testing center
- What the exam period will look like
- Information about what to do if you need to cancel or reschedule your exam
Applicants must travel to an approved testing center to take their exams. Nearby testing centers can be found in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York. In Vermont, you will find testing centers in South Burlington and Williston.
The cost of the IC&RC exam is covered by Recovery Vermont and the Vermont Department of Health, ADAP. Recovery Vermont is also available to help cover transportation costs to and from the testing center.
Vermont needs more peer recovery coaches. By collaborating with mental health professionals, medical providers, nonprofit community organizations, family services and other recovery-based organizations, people with lived experience in recovery have an incredible opportunity to turn that experience into a career.
Being a certified coach opens doors and provides new opportunities.
- Certification gives coaches more employment opportunities, including higher-paying positions
- Certified coaches can shift into other helping careers, including Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LADCs), mental health clinicians and medical professionals
- Coaches gain access to a community of like-minded colleagues
- Many coaching resources are free or available through scholarship or grant funds
Vermont’s IC&RC certification is reciprocal in 27 states and has some international options.
Every day, people in Vermont struggle with substance use and addiction. When people want to enter recovery, it is difficult to find enough support to make it work. Recovery organizations do everything they can to help those in recovery. Having peer support specialists and recovery coaches on the team helps them reach their goal of making Vermont a healthier and safer state.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not maintain specific records and data on peer recovery specialists and coaches. Instead, they categorize them as part of a broader group of health workers: Health Education Specialists and Community Health Workers.
This group is experiencing significant growth and is projected to continue to grow at a faster-than-average rate between 2021 and 2031. With 12% projected growth in that time frame, there will undoubtedly be a continued increase in the number of open positions for professional recovery coaches. The 2021 median annual pay for Health Education Specialists and Community Health Workers was $48,860, which comes to $23.49 per hour.
There are so many places in Vermont in need of peer recovery coaches.
Open positions can be found in the following settings:
- State and local governments
- Nonprofit community organizations
- Recovery centers
- Counseling and therapy centers
- Inpatient/residential recovery centers
- Outpatient recovery centers
- Faith-based ministries