What is a Career Counselor?

Counseling majors looking for an alternative to the clinical mental health or substance abuse field may want to become a career counselor. Also called vocational counselors, career counselors are trained professionals who focus on helping clients successfully enter the workforce. It’s their job to guide individuals through making the right career decisions to achieve their professional goals. As America’s economy recovers, career counseling will be in demand to help college graduates, laid-off workers, and military veterans enter the job market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the employment of career counselors will grow by eight percent through 2024. Below we’ve created a brief job profile to help determine if becoming a career counselor is your true vocational calling.

What Career Counselors Do

Career counselors conduct aptitude testing to help evaluate clients’ interests, talents, and skills for future professional paths. They’ll interview individuals about their education and experience to customize a vocational plan with realistic goals. Career counselors then utilize their resources to assist clients in finding and applying for job openings. A big portion of career counseling is teaching job search skills, including resume writing and networking. Career counselors may help clients select college degree or certificate programs to further their training. Some may organize career workshops for local community centers. Career counselors working in private practice must also market their services, handle client billing, and schedule their appointments.

Where Career Counselors Work

The BLS estimates that school and career counselors hold approximately 273,400 jobs in diverse settings nationwide. A high percentage of career counselors are employed by colleges and universities in their career services departments. Others work in corporate career centers, outplacement firms, employment services agencies, vocational rehabilitation facilities, and government agencies. A few career counselors are employed in high schools to help students select suitable vocations and trades. Licensed counselors may also open their own private practice. Most career counselors are employed full-time in a comfortable office setting. Many work irregular evening and weekend hours to accommodate the scheduling needs of clients.

How to Become a Career Counselor

At minimum, career counselors must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Most begin their professional practice with an undergraduate degree in counseling, psychology, human services, social work, or a related field. Some employers are now preferring counselors with a master’s degree in counseling and concentration in career development. Make certain the program is properly accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Gain experience in assessing clients’ abilities with supervised practicum or an internship. After graduation, check with the National Board for Certified Counselors for your state’s licensing requirements. Joining the National Career Development Association (NCDA) is also advised.

Related Resource: Grief Counselor

Overall, career counselors are guides who point people in the right direction for choosing a suitable vocation that they’ll excel in. Most adults spend over one-third of their life working, so career counselors play a pivotal role in determining what makes clients happy. Vocational counselors are rewarded with a mean yearly salary of $56,040, or $26.94 per hour. Beyond the monetary value, career counselors are able to help individuals maximize their professional success. If you’re gifted with great interpersonal, listening, speaking, problem-solving, and analytical skills, being a career counselor could be the perfect social services job for you.