Become a U.S. Department of Transportation Substance Abuse Professional!

Safety is the first priority of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). To ensure that transportation providers employ workers who are 100% drug- and alcohol-free, the DOT developed regulations for a Alcohol and Drug Testing Program and created the position of Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) to assist those who are identified through this program as having a problem with drugs and/or alcohol.

DOT Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) evaluate workers who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and make recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing and continuing care. Specifically, SAPs:

  • Conduct comprehensive face-to-face assessment and clinical evaluation to determine what level of assistance the employee needs in resolving problems associated with alcohol use or prohibited drug use;
  • Recommend a course of education and/or treatment with which the employee must comply prior to returning to DOT safety-sensitive duty;
  • Serve as a referral source to assist the employee’s entry into an acceptable program;
  • Conduct a face-to-face follow-up evaluation with the employee to determine if the individual has demonstrated successful compliance with recommendations of the initial evaluation and has made appropriate clinical progress sufficient to return to duty;
  • Develop and direct a follow-up testing plan for the employee returning to work following successful compliance; and
  • Provide the employee and employer with recommendations for continuing care.
Why become a SAP?
  • Generate additional income
  • Expand your private practice
  • Qualify for new employment opportunities through companies that have SAP staff positions
  • Reduce your workload while transitioning into retirement
  • Use your current skill set in a new way
  • Engage with a new population of clients
  • Join an exclusive marketplace where only a limited amount of SAPs are available

Eligibility Requirements

In order to qualify to be a DOT SAP, you must have the following:

(1) Qualifying Credential or License

To qualify to be a DOT SAP, you must have one of the following credentials:

  • Nationally certified* alcohol/drug abuse counselor through: 
    • NAADAC/NCC AP -  NCAC I, NCAC II, or MAC national credentials only; or
    • International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) - ICADC or ICAADC national credentials only; or 
    • National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) – MAC national credential only. 

      Please note that state alcohol/drug abuse counselor credentials and licenses are not accepted.
  • Licensed physician (Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy)
  • Licensed or certified psychologist
  • Licensed or certified social worker
  • Licensed or certified employee assistance professional
  • Licensed or certified marriage and family therapist

(2) Training

To qualify to be a DOT SAP, you must have the following training:

  • 12 hours of professional development relevant to performing SAP functions during each three-year renewal period and pass a validated examination administered by a nationally recognized professional or training organization

Obtain this training through NAADAC’s Substance Abuse Professional’s U.S. DOT Alcohol and Drug Testing Regulation Qualification/Re-qualification Independent Study Course or by attending a live NAADAC in-person or virtual SAP training

(3) Knowledge

To qualify to be a DOT SAP, you must have knowledge of:

  • Clinical experience in the diagnosis and treatment of substance abuse-related disorders.
  • Understanding how the SAP role relates to the special responsibilities employers have for ensuring the safety of the traveling public.
  • The nine required components laid out in Section 281 (c), Part 40 of the DOT's agency regulations, SAP guidelines and any significant changes to the SAP guidelines. Note: Degrees and certificates alone do not confer these knowledge requirements to you. 

NAADAC can help you meet each of these requirements:

STEP 1: Get your National Certification 
Gain your national certification through the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NCC AP).

STEP 2: Get your 12 hours of Continuing Education 
Receive your required 12 hours of training by purchasing NAADAC's Substance Abuse Professional’s U.S. DOT Alcohol and Drug Testing Regulation Qualification Independent Study Course to study at home OR register for a live in-person or virtual two-day SAP Training Course

STEP 3: Pass your Qualification Exam
Demonstrate your Knowledge of the subject by passing your online 100-question SAP Qualification examination (exam included in purchase of Independent Study Course or two-day SAP Training Course).

STEP 4: Apply for your SAP Qualification
Purchase & submit a SAP Qualification Application with a copy of your current qualifying license or certification within 18 months of passing your online exam.

Benefits of Getting Your SAP Through NAADAC

SAPs qualified through NAADAC will be issued a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) Qualification Certificate to frame and display in your office, a free listing in NAADAC's online SAP Directory, and are afforded three years of maintenance-free eligibility to practice as an SAP.

Additional Resources

For the latest notices about using remote telehealth services, check the DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Statement of Enforcement Discretion for Substance Abuse Professionals | US Department of Transportation page for updates.

For more information on becoming a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), follow the above links, call 703-741-7686 and select option # 5 for SAP, or email Richard Goodman, SAP Administrator, at [email protected].