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What are the Educational Requirements for Addiction Therapists in West Virginia?

If you live in the beautiful state of West Virginia and are interested in becoming an addiction therapist, your first concern is likely about the education you will have to possess in order to enjoy a successful career in the field. Unfortunately, there is no one right answer for how to pursue a career as an addiction therapist in the state. Instead, it really depends on the exact job title and description you would like to have, as many jobs fall under the heading of "addiction therapist." For almost every position in the field, however, you will need some degree of higher education and definitely a high school diploma or its equivalent. Your best bet is to research jobs you are interested in to find out the educational requirements for obtaining them. Also take the time to talk to those who are currently working in your dream job for advice and guidance.

Most professionals working as addiction therapists in West Virginia will possess at least a bachelor's (or four year) degree from an accredited college or university. However, there are a few entry level positions open to those with only associate's degrees. Associate's degrees, which generally take about two years to complete, give you a basic overview of the subject in which you major. As such, almost all working professionals who possess only a bachelor's degree obtain some kind of certification or licensure in addition to their degree. Also, most are planning on transferring their associate's degree credits to a bachelor's degree program at a later date, so this is definitely something to think about. Even if you can only manage to get an associate's degree right now for whatever reason, always keep in mind that upgrading your degree is always a possibility.

As mentioned above, almost all of the professionals working in the field will possess at least a bachelor's degree. These degrees provide all of the knowledge of an associate's degree, plus more specialized knowledge in the topic of your interest. Commonly, addiction therapists get their degrees in sociology, psychology, physiology, addiction studies, or other related fields. Many colleges and universities also offer students the opportunity to major in a more general subject and specialize in chemical dependency, substance abuse, or addiction. Almost any combination will do, but if you are seeking a specific licensure or accreditation, make sure you are aware of how many course hours are required in each category.

If you completed your undergraduate degree long ago, perhaps before you had dreams of becoming an addiction therapist, you might think you have no choice but to go back to school and obtain another undergraduate degree. This is not the case at all, however. There are many master's degree and even doctoral degree programs in the state of West Virginia that accept applicants from a wide range of different and unrelated educational backgrounds. Generally, diversity is good for such programs, and they are happy to find students who have different educational backgrounds than what is the norm.

Of course, you can also complete years of study in the field with a related master's or doctoral degree. This is often the way to earn the highest salary possible and to seek the most prestigious licensures and accreditations in the state. If you're already working at the time that you complete your advanced degrees, be aware that some employers are willing to pay for all or part of your higher education. This might come with the stipulation that you work for the company or organization for a set time following graduation, but it is well worth it for a free education.

Obviously, West Virginia offers its residents a lot of different options for entering into the field of addiction therapy. In the end, it is up to you to choose the one that is best suited to your individual needs, dreams, and goals. Some career paths take longer to complete than others, but it isn't the length of the journey that you should concern yourself with in this case. Instead, you should focus on the goal ahead and on taking the small steps you need to eventually get there.