What is a SAP?

DOT's requirements for SAP credentials and training are very specific. A drug counselor, or therapist, or mental health counselor, or any other mental health professional who does not meet these qualifications and training cannot provide SAP services. On this page you will find DOT's pre-requisites for being a SAP and providing SAP services.

Safety-sensitive employees in the transportation industry are subject to federal drug and alcohol use and testing regulations, under the federal Department of Transportation (DOT). An employee who violates these regulations must be immediately removed from safety-sensitive functions, and he/she may not be returned to any safety-sensitive functions in the transportation industry until and unless he/she successfully completes a DOT return-to-duty process.

The service agent who is responsible for overseeing this process is a Substance Abuse Professional, or a SAP. DOT requires a SAP to have specific credentials, to have basic knowledge in specified areas, to successfully complete a comprehensive SAP training, and to satisfactorily complete a SAP exam.

Here is a further explanation of those requirements:


A SAP must have one of the following credentials:

  1. A licensed physician [Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy];
  2. A licensed or certified social worker;
  3. A licensed or certified psychologist;
  4. A licensed or certified employee assistance professional;
  5. A licensed or certified marriage and family therapist; or
  6. A drug and alcohol counselor certified by the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors Certification Commission (NAADAC); or by the International Certification Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (ICRC); or by the National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc. and Affiliates/Master Addictions Counselor (NBCC)..

Basic knowledge

A SAP must be knowledgeable in the following areas:

  1. Knowledgeable about and have clinical experience in the diagnosis and treatment of alcohol and controlled substances-related disorders.
  2. Knowledgeable about the SAP function as it relates to employer interests in safety-sensitive duties.
  3. Knowledgeable about 49 CFR Part 40, Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs, and about the DOT modal rules that apply to the employers for whom you evaluate employees, and about the DOT SAP Guidelines
  4. Knowledgeable and current on any changes to these rules and regulations.


  1. A SAP must complete a SAP Qualification Training
  2. A SAP must actively participate in Continuing Education Training
    (12 professional development hours every 3 years)
    (For information and schedule of Blair Consulting Group SAP Trainings)

SAP Exam

A SAP must satisfactorily complete a SAP exam.
Information about SAP exams that are currently available.

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