How do I become a Certified Peer Support Specialist?

Are you interested in using your lived experience with substance use and mental health challenges to be a force of good in our community and a pathway to help others in their recovery journey? Then learn more about becoming a Certified Peer Support Specialist.

 A Peer Support Specialist can also be called peer specialists, peer recovery coaches, peer advocates, and peer recovery support specialists. This is a credentialed position where your life experience either replaces intensive schooling and formal work experience, or is an addition to schooling and work experience. 

Peer Support positions often pay above minimum wage and is a professional pathway for those who face barriers to employment such as incarceration, houselessness, substance use recovery and mental health challenges. 

By becoming a Peer Support Specialist, you can strengthen your professional opportunities as well as provide much needed support, hope and effective change in the community.  For more information about the North Carolina Certified Peer Support Specialist (NCCPSS) certification process, click here.


  • You need to have a year of personal recovery from substance use and/or mental health challenges 
  • Complete an approved 40-hour peer support training program. CLICK HERE for a listing of current trainings. You can also contact Sunrise Community at 828-552-3858 to find out about local low-cost or free Peer Support Specialist trainings. 
  • Include two reference letters validating at least one year of personal recovery for your Peer Support training application 
  • Complete an additional 20 hours of continued education through Sunrise’s Peer University, Recovery Coach Training or other professional and interpersonal training sessions. 
  • Speak to a Sunrise staff member at 828-552-3858, email to enroll in Sunrise’s Peer University Program. 


Being a Certified Peer Support Specialist is rewarding work, yet it presents its own set of challenges. Peer Support Specialists work with populations who have similar lived experience. These interactions may open up vulnerabilities and trauma triggers for the Peer Support Specialist. 

Sunrise’s Peer University not only provides trainings in promoting safe boundaries, understanding trauma and self-care, it also provides a network of seasoned Peers Support Specialist who offer support, encouragement and counsel.   

Contact Sunrise

Call Sunrise at 828-552-3858 to find out more about how to become a Certified Peer Support Specialist or visit us at our Drop-In Community Center at 50 South French Broad Ave., Suite 246 in downtown Asheville, Monday thru Friday from 9AM-5PM.