Spec Cert App & Prereq

Application Requirements

NADD Membership

NADD Membership is a requirement for certification, and all employees of organizations with a NADD Organizational Membership receive member benefits through their employer. Membership Status is documented on your application and confirmed as we process your submission.

If you are not yet a NADD Member, JOIN US!

Application Fee

Access to our easy online application is distributed to candidates after payment of the Application Fee.

Organizations with multiple staff to certify may choose to pay their application fees on a case-by-case basis as their staff elect to pursue a certification. An Organization may also contact NADD for coordinated assistance to prepay for multiple certifications and ensure their staff are enrolled and processed smoothly.

Please contact us to discuss your specific needs and how we can assist: specialistcerts@thenadd.org

Regardless of the payment option you choose, please note NADD’s two tiers of certification pricing:

  • Accredited
    NADD discounts the cost of our certifications to the employees of NADD-Accredited programs; if you are unsure whether your program is NADD-Accredited, please consult our NADD-Accredited Programs Registry.

    To learn more about the process and benefits of NADD Accreditation click HERE.

  • Non-Accredited
    NADD certifications are reasonably priced regardless of your program’s Accreditation status, and they are portable: once NADD-certified, a professional retains their certification regardless of changes in employment status.

Please Note: The NADD Accreditation status of your program and your organization’s NADD Membership status are two distinct considerations.

All applicants to NADD certification programs must be NADD Members, and all employees of an organization that is a NADD Member also receive membership benefits; not all NADD Members will be employed by NADD-Accredited programs.

If you are unsure whether your program is NADD-Accredited, please consult our NADD-Accredited Programs Registry.

For more information about the benefits of becoming NADD-Accredited, CLICK HERE

Application Process, Prerequisites & Elements

Application Process

Access to our easy online application is emailed to candidates after payment of the Application Fee. NADD strives to process all applications within 5 business days, and while applications are usually processed more quickly an incomplete application may take longer.

Upon receiving an application, NADD will review it for completion and communicate directly with the applicant to complete the application if any of the required elements are missing or unclear. When an applicant has successfully met all requirements and their application fees are paid, NADD will guide them through the next steps in the process.

Once an application has been processed, the application and any associated login credentials are nontransferable, nonrefundable, and void after one year.

Application Prerequisites

All applicants must meet 3 prerequisites for acceptance into the Specialist Certification Program, which are documented as part of NADD’s online application process:

  1. Education
    Professionals may present a Master’s level degree in a related field with one year experience, a Bachelor’s level degree in a related field with 2 years experience, or 60 credit hours in the field of ID or Mental health and 3 years of related experience.

    Post secondary education is not required; however, a thorough explanation of the experience base must accompany the application as equivalence determination resides with the NADD Competency-Based Dual Diagnosis Specialist Certification Program. The review committee may recognize other types of accreditation and certifications as pre-requisites.

  2. Experience
    The applicant will have experience in support of persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities and mental health issues (Dually Diagnosed). This can include volunteerships, internships and externships. For applicants without a post secondary degree other similar credentialing or accreditation or combinations thereof and experience may be accepted.
  3. Ethical Behavior
    The applicant’s signed Affirmation of Principles Form is required and shall denote the candidate’s commitment to ethical behavior; employees must be in good standing at their organization.

    Any disciplinary events, lawsuits past or pending, suspension of privileges from care facilities or professional organizations, or any actions by a state/province or other licensing body related to complaints or actions against an individual must be reported and reviewed by the committee. NADD has established a process for receiving complaints regarding ethical behavior of people who have received this certification. Any intentional misrepresentations or falsehoods submitted by an applicant would be sufficient to deny certification as an unethical act.

Application Elements

When an applicant can satisfy the above prerequisites, they may submit the following items together as a complete application package:

  1. Completed Online Application Form
  2. Resume or CV
  3. Three letters of reference
  4. Completed Confirmation of Experience Form
  5. Signed Affirmation of Principles
  6. Work Sample

The Certification Process – Timeline & Stages

Once a Specialist application has been processed and accepted, NADD will communicate directly with the applicant about the status of their application and the next steps in the process. The certification process usually takes between 1-4 months to complete, and encompasses the following stages:

  • Work Sample Review
  • Interview/Exam
  • Certification Evaluation

Work Sample Review

When an application is approved, NADD will assign two Examiners to review the applicant’s work sample to determine whether the candidate demonstrates competency in the 6 core competency areas. If the Examiners have questions or concerns, NADD will coordinate communication with the applicant to clarify issues and determine whether revisions are necessary; the Examiners may require the submission of additional information and/or a revised work sample before approving the Interview/Exam. If/when the applicant’s Examiners are ready to proceed to the Interview & Exam stage, NADD will coordinate the scheduling process.

Review of the work sample is based on the guidelines in the materials linked below. The applicant should review these guidelines to ensure that the submitted content includes consideration of each of the six targeted competency areas. 


The Interview/Exam will take place via video- or teleconference, and last approximately 1 hour. As the applicant, you will have the option as to whether you would like your video on or off during the Interview/Exam, and your decision will not affect your evaluation.

During the Interview/Exam, the applicant will be asked to discuss their work sample in order to demonstrate understanding of the 6 core competency areas, and to address any questions the Examiners may pose. The interview will also include resolution of any questions raised during other parts of the application process.

Certification Evaluation

Final evaluation of the applicant’s Work Sample and Interview/Exam will be determined based on the candidate’s demonstration of knowledge in the 6 core competency areas. Candidates will receive a copy of their evaluation, with scores and Examiner feedback, at the conclusion of the evaluation process.

For both the Work Sample and Interview/Exam, the applicant’s competence in each of the six competency areas will be evaluated using the following scale:

1 = Insufficient evidence of competence in this area of Best Practice

2 = Evidence of minimal competence in this area of Best Practice

3 = Evidence of average competence in this area of Best Practice

4 = Evidence of above average competence in this area of Best Practice

5 = Evidence of a superior level of competence in this area of Best Practice

Candidates are required to demonstrate at least an average level of knowledge (a score of at least 3) in all competency areas.

In the event that the two examiners cannot agree upon whether the candidate achieved a passing score (3’s and above) or a failing score (1’s, 2’s), the examiner from the same discipline as the candidate shall make the decision.

Certification & Recertification

NADD certification is valid for 2 years, and Specialists are entitled to use the credential NADD-DDS in recognition of their achievement.

To renew their credential a NADD-DDS may apply for recertification by demonstrating the completion of 10 hours of relevant continuing education through our online recertification application portal, and by paying the recertification application fee.

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