How to Become a SAP

Want to serve as a U.S. Department of Transportation Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)? Before you begin providing SAP services, you must meet the following three requirements:

1. Requirements

In order to be qualified as a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), you must have at least one of the following credentials:

  • Licensed physician (Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy)
  • Licensed or certified social worker
  • Licensed or certified psychologist
  • Licensed or certified employee assistance professional
  • State-licensed or certified marriage and family therapist
  • IC&RC Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC)
  • Drug and alcohol counselor certified by an organization listed at

In addition, DOT expects you to:

  • be knowledgeable about–and have clinical experience in—the diagnosis and treatment of alcohol and controlled substances related disorders.
  • keep current on any changes of DOT testing rules and regulations

DOT requires you to subscribe to the Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance (ODAPC) listserve.

In order to provide SAP services to FMCSA drivers, you will also have to register on FMCSA’s Clearinghouse, at

2. Qualification Training

You must complete a SAP Qualification Training.  There are a variety of training and training formats, including in-person classroom settings, workbook and home study, and online modules.

On DOT’s website you can find a list of trainings and training providers:

3. Exam

After completing a SAP Qualification Training, you must satisfactorily complete a SAP Exam.

Exam providers are included on DOT’s list:

After your training and exam

You are now qualified to provide SAP services.  DOT doesn’t maintain a central registry of SAPs.  In fact, when you register your e-mail on ODAPC’s listserv, you won’t even be asked to provide your name.

Be sure to keep ALL documentation related to your qualification.  Don’t destroy any certificates or documentation.  This can be a paperwork nightmare.  Auditors and employers can ask you to provide any of these documents, and you must provide it immediately on request. 

You should keep the following documentation:

  • Certificate of your Qualification Training
  • Certificate of your SAP Exam, with a specific date
  • Your professional license/credential for every year that you provided SAP services
  • Certificates of completion for all professional development hours.

SAP Continuing Education

In order to maintain your qualification as a SAP, you must obtain 12 professional development hours (e.g., CEUs) sometime during each 3-year timeframe following the date of your SAP Exam.  Your coursework or training must be related to the DOT rules and regulations, changes and clarifications that have been published by DOT, and about the SAP process.  Each course or training must include a test or quiz.

Again, DOT’s website offers a list of providers of continuing education hours:

What should I do with my documentation?  Where do I send it?

Keep all your documentation in a file folder where you can retrieve it immediately if an auditor were to knock on your door.  (They do).

You may scan it into PDFs, which you can e-mail to an auditor, or an employer, or to National Traffic Safety Administration, or anyone else who requests it, as stated in Part 40.281(e). 

Don’t destroy any of these documents.

If you are missing a document, an auditor could determine that you are disqualified.  Be sure to contact the trainer or the provider today, to have it replaced.