How to Become a Professional Recovery Coach
The Definitive Career Guide

Avg. Salary

Education Duration
0-6 Months

Job Outlook

Do you want to make a positive difference in someone’s life by helping them fight through the dangers of addiction?

Then, a professional recovery coach may be the job for you.

This career path doesn’t require a medical education but includes some simple certification steps that can get you ready for this career in just a few months.

It’s an excellent option for someone who’s trying to make the world a better place but who doesn’t have the time for in-depth education.

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Job Description

A professional recovery coach is a life coach who works with someone during their addiction recovery process.

They help their clients make better life decisions and choices, specifically alternate activities to drug abuse.

A recovery coach may work with their clients every day or a few times a week or set up an on-call coaching style when clients need them.


As a professional recovery coach, you will have many duties that help your clients stay sober.

You will:

  • Talk with clients and give them support during recovery
  • Identify professional medical support that can help a client, such as a psychiatrist
  • Find positive activities for a client, including working out or volunteering
  • Accompany clients to 12-step meetings and other rehab processes
  • Sponsor clients during their recovery process

Note that a recovery coach is not a psychiatrist or therapist.

They can’t and shouldn’t provide physical or mental health advice. Instead, they can help their client make better decisions and work directly with them to keep them focused during a long and challenging recovery process.


The average salary for a professional recovery coach is about $32,000 every year or just over $15 an hour.

Salaries may vary depending on your position, including whether you work full-time with an inpatient facility or have a freelance coaching career that you farm out to others.

The highest salary for this career is about $36,000, which is most common when pairing with a facility with a significant funding base.

However, you can also make more money by taking on side gigs, such as counseling with multiple facilities or becoming a traveling counselor.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $50,550


Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$72,260
New Hampshire$47,500
New Jersey$66,200
New Mexico$48,710
New York$58,470
North Carolina$49,940
North Dakota$41,350
Rhode Island$53,680
South Carolina$51,810
South Dakota$41,310
West Virginia$53,480
Puerto Rico$35,400

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $72,260.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $72,260
New Jersey - $66,200
Massachusetts - $63,160
Hawaii - $60,370
Vermont - $60,280
* Salary information based on May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Coaches and Scouts, OCC Code 27-2022, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become

Step 1 Step One: Earn a High School Diploma

Though recovery coaches don’t need extensive education, they’ll need a minimum of a high school diploma.

That’s because you’ll need to show you have the basic skills necessary to handle various vital steps, such as preparing case reports and working directly with a client during training.

Note that a GED is an acceptable alternative if you dropped out, and most GED programs can be completed in less than a year.

You can earn this degree at an alternative educational facility in your area.

Step 2 Step Two: Sign Up for Training

Though you can take multiple certification exams to become a recovery coach, including the Certified Addiction Recovery Coach (CAC) program, you should get training first.

Multiple training programs can help you transition to this certification. Independent training firms often provide hands-on education, including information about addiction and proper recovery coaching steps.

Complete this training, which typically takes around 200 hours, to learn everything about becoming a recovery coach.

You’re now prepared to take the certification exam.

Step 3 Step Three: Get Certified

After completing 60 hours of approved coach training hours, 34 hours of core self-study, 12 hours of buddy coaching, and 16 hours of CAC niche self-study, you can apply for ICF certification.

If you want to apply for the more extensive BCC certification test, you need 82 CCE-approved hours towards that credential and 16 hours in the CAC niche self-study course.

After completing this training and learning coaching application, communication skills, core competencies, assessment skills, and business development, take the certification exam.

Find a certification exam site or an online program you can attend and schedule your test.

Once you pass, you can start looking for jobs within this field.

Step 4 Step Four: Find a Job

Once you finish your credentialing process, you can reach out to various addiction treatment centers.

Find inpatient and outpatient centers that need a professional recovery coach.

You can also contact them and ask about setting up a new position.

While not always available, this option streamlines the process and improves your chances.

Contact hospitals and other medical facilities in your area to see if they need recovery coaches.

Often, hospitals provide addiction treatment and may need someone with your training.

You can also set up a business as a freelance recovery coach.

You’ll have to handle the proper legal steps, including applying for a company license and finding clients.

Note that some facilities even offer online recovery coaching options, meaning you can connect with people across the country and support them through treatment.

Step 5 Step Five: Expand Your Position

After you find a job, provide high-quality coaching for your clients and continually seek ways to improve your position.

For example, you may become a recovery coach manager.

Typically, a manager helps a team of professional recovery coaches handle their caseload, find clients, and provide high-quality support for their clients.

You can also get experience with an addiction recovery firm and then transition to owning a business if you want.

This option works well for people who prefer working independently.

While you’ll make more money as an independent business owner, your risks are higher.

As a result, it’s essential to research this option before making a choice.

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As a professional recovery coach, you don’t need specialized education, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Though having a counseling, psychiatry, or another health-related degree may improve your chances of finding a job, your education focuses primarily on your certification process.

In a CAC training program, you’ll cover several subjects that make you a better recovery coach.

Coaching Application

This subject covers essential coaching duties and helps you understand how to apply them.

You’ll learn the day-to-day tasks of a recovery coach, how these support your client, and ways to improve your capabilities.

Most training programs provide hands-on support through these classes, including specialized help from a teacher who understands your learning method.

Coach Communication

Coaching focuses heavily on communication, and you’ll learn how to encourage and listen to your clients and help them avoid abusing substances.

You’ll master careful listening methods, including signs that your client needs extra support.

Just as importantly, you get hands-on lessons in empathetic communication, including how to encourage your client without lying to them.

Core Coaching Competencies

During these studies, you’ll learn about important skills that improve your coaching, such as empathy, understanding, self-motivation, and friendliness.

You’ll get the chance to practice many of these competencies with real people, including those with addiction.

Your professor will help correct any errors you may make to ensure you provide high-quality support.

Tools & Assessments Application

Professional recovery coaches have multiple tools and assessments that they use to provide high-quality support for their clients.

These include assessment worksheets, software, and tracking programs that help them follow their clients’ progress.

You’ll get hands-on training with these tools to ensure that you understand and use them properly when you start your career.

Business & Career Development

This subject covers subjects like building a new business from the ground up, building a high-energy career, how to lecture and discuss issues properly, and the methodologies needed for your position.

You’ll also learn how to make stronger business connections with addiction treatment facilities, particularly if you want to start an independent business for yourself.

Video About The Career

Certification & Licensing

Certification is required in some states, but a degree is not required.

Average Training Program Duration: 0-6 Months

Job Outlook

The job outlook for a professional recovery coach is 22% over the next 10 years.

That’s much higher than the market average of just 6% over the same period.

This outlook is so high because addiction remains a persistent problem that affects the lives of millions.

Dozens of new addiction facility centers are likely to open during this 10-year period.

As a result, there’s a high demand for professional recovery coaches.

During this time, salary is likely to increase, mainly if the supply of available coaches stays so low.

That makes this career an excellent option for someone who’s interested in helping other people recover from addiction-related health problems.

After all, your training should take no more than a few months, and your salary is decent right away.

As demand increases, you’ll likely find even higher-paying jobs in the future.

Employment Growth Projection: 22%


That's a higher than average projected growth of 48,800

Should You Become a Professional Recovery Coach?

Overall Satisfaction: High

Overall Satisfaction

Satisfaction in this career is typically reasonably high, though that varies depending on a few factors.

For example, one study found that better mentoring from supervisors and a recovery-focused approach helped improve satisfaction in this career.

More role clarity, including defined duties, can help make this career more enjoyable.

The heavy workload of this position was the biggest downside of this job for most people.

However, satisfied coaches praised the hands-on approach of this job and the ways it helped others.

Average Salary: Medium

Average Salary

The average salary of $32,000 may seem reasonably low compared to other medical professionals.

However, your training is much less costly, and you can begin a job in this field far quicker.

Note that some studies find that independent recovery coaches may make up to $63,000 every year.

As a business owner, your workload will be much higher, and you might need to hire other coaches to help run your company, especially if you get a heavy client load.

That makes it essential to balance your role very carefully.

Job Growth Outlook: High

Job Growth Outlook

If you want to join a field with a great outlook and a promising future, this job may work well for you.

With a 22% increase in the next 10 years, you’ll find it reasonably easy to find a career within this field, especially if you don’t mind an entry-level job.

While advancement opportunities are limited in recovery coaching, options like starting a new business or managing a team give you some chances to grow in your job.

Management often becomes a high-earning job, with income approaching $50,000.

Education Duration: 0-6 Months

Education Duration

Your education for this career should take no more than a few months to complete.

Most people finish their training in as little as three months, though some may take longer if they already have a job or want to avoid burnout.

Burnout is a common problem that affects far too many people.

Though you can get an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree to start in this field, you don’t need any of these degrees to begin.

That gives this career a high training-to-earning value, as you can start your career far more quickly than you can in other medical jobs.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

If you’re interested in a career as a personal recovery coach, you need to make sure that you have the following skills to ensure that you’re comfortable with the unique demands of this position: 

  • Empathy
  • Case management
  • Listening and responding
  • Organization
  • Community Outreach
  • Relapse prevention
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Problem-solving
  • Stages of change model
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Patience
  • Advocacy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Writing
  • Report production
  • Medical field knowledge
  • Ability to work with multiple care providers

Frequently Asked Questions


How long do you have to go to school to become a professional recovery coach?

You typically don’t need to attend school long to become a recovery coach.

Most addiction treatment centers only ask for a high school diploma or GED, with certification training from a licensed professional.

This training includes a few months or so of hands-on support, including learning about how to provide high-quality coaching for your clients.

As a result, you can typically start a career in this field reasonably quickly and with minimal training.


How much money does a professional recovery coach make a year?

Typically, a recovery coach will make about $28-36K every year, depending on your position and where you live.

For example, coaches in areas with a higher cost of living typically make more to ensure that they get the money they need to live.

Note that independent coaches can make more money if they create a high-earning contract with facilities.

That said, all addiction treatment centers have limited funding that’s often based on grants and donations and may not be able to offer a high wage.


What kind of education do you need to be a professional recovery coach?

You’ll only need a high school degree and in-depth CAC training to start a career as a recovery coach.

This educational process includes in-depth and hands-on classes that immerse you in your job duties.

Once finished, you can take the certification exam and look for a job.

Note that you can earn a psychology degree and start a career in this field, which may increase how much money you make in some facilities.

That said, you don’t need any specialized education beyond your basic certification training.


What skills do you need to have to be a professional recovery coach?

As a professional recovery coach, you need to focus heavily on skills like empathy, listening, communication, and crisis management.

You might run into dangerous situations with your clients, including overdoses, that must be handled quickly and effectively.

Furthermore, you’ll need strong writing skills to create reports and other updates for your team.

Reports must accurately and fairly discuss your client’s needs and highlight ways to improve them.

You’ll share these reports with their counselors and doctors to provide better care.


Are professional recovery coaches in high demand?

The job outlook for professional recovery coaches is high, with a 22% increase in the next 10 years.

That’s much higher than the national 6% average for all professionals, meaning that there is a very high demand for this job.

You’ll typically see a higher need for this profession in bigger cities, where drugs may be more common and treatment more frequent.

Facilities in these areas can include a myriad of different options, including hospitals and inpatient therapy centers.

USA Professional Recovery Coach Info by State

USA MapWashingtonOregonCaliforniaIdahoNevadaUtahArizonaMontanaWyomingColoradoNew Mexiconorth-dakota/South DakotaNebraskakansas/OklahomaTexasMinnesotaIowaMissouriArkansasLouisianaWisconsinIllinoisKentuckyTennesseeMississippiAlabamaGeorgiaFloridaSouth CarolinaNorth CarolinaVirginiaMichiganMichiganIndianaOhioWest VirginiaPennsylvaniaNew YorkMarylandMarylandDelawareNew JerseyConnecticutRhode IslandMassachusettsVermontNew HampshireMaineAlaskaHawaiiNew JerseyVermontNew HampshireMassachusetts

Professional Recovery Coach Resources

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