Behavioral Health Apprenticeships

Banner highlighting 3 apprenticeship pathways: Behavioral Health Tech, Peer Counselor, and SUDP.

HCAC is committed to addressing the needs of the state’s behavioral health workforce. The Behavioral Healthcare (BH) Apprenticeship Program is a registered statewide apprenticeship program that aims to:

  • Promote accessibility to services
  • Build a pathway of skilled and diverse candidates
  • Stabilize the behavioral health workforce through increased employee motivation and retention.
Behavioral Health Technician Apprenticeship

A Behavioral Health Technician receives their Nursing Assistant certification (NA-C) and is trained to assist clinics, treatment centers, and hospitals in providing behavioral healthcare for patients. The title of Behavioral Health Technicians is comparable to many other healthcare industry roles including but not limited to Psychiatric Aide/ Psychiatric Nursing Assistant, Mental Health Aide/Technician, Healthcare Aide, Behavioral Health Nurse Aid. Apprentices “learn while they earn”—working full time while gaining skills taught by experienced teachers, coaches, and assigned mentor/preceptor Behavioral Health Technician. Apprentices earn college credit through our partnership with Clover Park Technical College’s Behavioral Health Technician program, and also sign a two-year post-graduation service commitment agreement.

The apprenticeship program for Behavioral Health Technician involves:

  • 250 hours of classroom and lab sessions
  • 2,000 hours of work experience
  • Passing the NA-C exam, and complete specific classroom and lab coursework for their behavioral health related duties

Behavioral Health Technician (Factsheet – PDF)

Peer Counselor Apprenticeship

A Peer Counselor brings their own model of resilience to benefit a wide range of clients, and enables them to overcome obstacles associated with substance use and other behavioral health disorders. Apprentices “learn while they earn”—working full time while gaining skills taught by experienced teachers, coaches, and assigned mentor/preceptor Peer Counselor. Apprentices earn college credit by completing a 1 – 1.25 year program through our educational partners, and also sign a two-year post-graduation service commitment agreement.

The Peer Counselor apprenticeship program involves:

  • 250 hours of classroom and lab sessions
  • 2,000 hours of work experience
  • Passing the Washington State Health Care Authority Certified Peer Counselor test.

Peer Counselor (Factsheet – PDF)

Substance Use Disorder Professional Apprenticeship

SUDPs are trained to conduct assessments, counsel individuals and groups, assist in insurance
authorization, conduct utilization review, and assist with case management in addition to other typical
associated behavioral health duties. Apprentices “learn while they earn”—working full time while gaining skills taught by experienced teachers, coaches, and assigned mentor/preceptors. Apprentices earn college credit by completing a 2 – 2.5 year program (depending on an apprentice’s prior experience) through our educational partners, and also sign a two-year post-graduation service commitment agreement.

The SUDP apprenticeship program involves:

  • 560 hours of classroom and lab sessions
  • 4,000 hours of work experience
  • Passing the National Certified Addiction Counselor Level I (NCAC I) certification exam upon program completion, which permits Washington SUDP certification.

Substance Use Disorder Professional (Factsheet – PDF)

Candidates interested in the SUDP Apprenticeship must undergo a background check with the DOH in order to receive their SUDP-T. The DOH will review each applicant’s conviction history independently and determine if they will issue the credential, issue it with conditions, or deny. Factors such as the number, the type of convictions, the length of time since they occurred and the circumstances surrounding the incidents are all considered. The DOH encourages folks to apply regardless of background as issuance rates are high and conditions considerate. Issuance can take anywhere between 2 weeks to 6 months depending on applicant volume and intensity of personal history .

 We encourage any interested applicant to apply for their SUDP-T as soon as they are interested in the Apprenticeship program as it will increase their likelihood of job placement and allow the DOH to review their background with as leeway time as possible.

    Eligibility Requirements

    The entry requirements that are the same for the three pathways are: candidates must be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. Ability to work 40hour work week.

    The SUDP apprentice candidates must meet English and math prequalification levels equivalent to the status of a high school senior.

    Additionally, once in the apprenticeship, each pathway requires its own specific classes and competencies for successful completion.

    Get Started as an Apprentice

    Get a job and get trained all with one program!

    Step 1: Get Informed | Reach out to Marijo Manaois, Strategic Partnerships Project Manager, 425-547-6577, for an informational call to find the right pathway for you.

    Step 2: Once you are informed and confident in your pathway, Marijo will connect you with the appropriate recruiter.

    Step 3: Get Connected | Your recruiter will send your information and resume to employers with Apprenticeship Openings.

    Step 4: Get Hired | Employers will reach out and schedule an interview if you match their needs and walk you through their hiring process

    Step 5:  Get Started | Once you’ve gotten a job offer and are onboarded to your new employer, we enroll you in the next training cohort, assign your mentor and you begin your new earn-while you learn journey! 

    Behavioral Health Positions

    I am a substance use disorder professional in the apprenticeship. What it allows us to do is go to people and meet them truly where they’re at… We’re not there going to get a paycheck, we’re going there to change our community. And that is what this Training Fund allows us to do. It allows us to live. And in doing so, we’re able to save lives.

    Reinhardt Ryden

    SUDP Apprentice, Lifeline Connections

    The apprenticeship program is something we would highly recommend. It’s obvious that the instructors care about our programs…There is remote learning that doesn’t take the employees out of the workplace for long periods of time. This is nice for the employer, but it’s also nice for the employees, because their paychecks and some of the work they’re doing day to day remains consistent. And they’re able to apply what they’re learning very quickly!

    Chad Solvie

    President & CEO, Cascade Senior Living Services