For vocational and academic planning, some individuals may seek the assistance of a career coach or counselor. By applying career development theories, facilitation skills, informal and formal assessment, and case management, career counselors provide students, job seekers, and professionals with the support and guidance needed to reach their career goals.
Career development can be a lifelong process with ongoing opportunities to improve. Career counseling helps individuals understand themselves and the world of work to make solid occupational, education, and life decisions. Skills that are learned through career counseling can become long lasting tools to help clients make future career and life decisions independently.
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Through the utilization of tools, assessments, and the evaluation of skill levels, career counselors help individuals make decisions about their careers paths, teach job search skills, and work on conflict resolution techniques for application in the workplace. Working with a wide array of clients in various stages of their life, counselors with a career speciality will also provide support to those already entered into the workforce on improving their current career. From the start, career counselors help college students explore their interests, strengths, and skills in relation to academic majors and degree paths. As with any other counseling occupation, career counselors must practice by their own set of professional counseling ethics as put forth by the National Career Development Association (NCDA).
Teaching decision making, conflict resolution and job searching skills
Providing support for job stress, conflict, loss, and career transition
Making appropriate referrals
Engaging in career development issues affecting social policies and legislation
Using assessments and tests, career counselors assess the skills and strengths of clients in relation to career options and pathways.
Career coaches focus on the present and future of their client’s career in terms of advancement in their career or transition to another.
Steps to Become a Career Counselor
Step 1: Complete a bachelor’s degree in a behavioral, social science, or human services field.
Earning your bachelor's degree in a counseling or human services related field lays the foundation that allows you to learn about human development, counseling skills, and even career development.
Step 2: Earn a master’s degree in counseling.
Career counselors obtain their master’s degree in counseling or career services with coursework concentrations on career theories, career development, counseling theories, and the psychology of human development.
Step 3: Complete graduate and postgraduate internship experience for certification/licensure requirements.
As a crucial aspect of accredited counseling master’s programs, graduate and postgraduate supervised counseling experience allows students to dive into their future licensed role as a career counselor.
Step 4: Pass any required exams for certification/licensure.
Some states and/or counseling programs require the passing of a recognized examination for gradation or certification/licensure such as the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and/or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).
Step 5: Apply for and earn additional certifications.
The National Career Development Association (NCDA) offers certifications for traditionally trained counselors and others to pursue education as a career development facilitator, career services provider, master of career services, career counselor, and clinical supervisor of career counseling, and career counselor educator. These certifications fine tune graduate coursework to best assist clients seeking career guidance and planning.
Step 6: Continue your education and stay up to date on career counseling trends and changes.
To maintain state licensure as a professional counselor, career counselors must obtain continuing education credits through workshops, conferences, presentations, and/or research to name a few formats. In addition, those with NCDA certifications are also required to pursue professional development in the field of career services.
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What are the certification and licensure requirements?
Similar to other counseling careers, certification and licensure requirements vary from state to state. Some employers may prefer that career counselors are certified by the NCDA as the credentialing programs provide extended and specific learning on career resources, transferable facilitation skills, providing and evaluate assessments, case management, and job searching skills.
Career Outlook for Career Counselors
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that school and career counselor positions will increase eight percent from 2014-24 - bringing more than 22,000 jobs. With the increase of student populations at all educational levels, the need for these counselors is also higher. The BLS examines that growth of employment opportunities may be strained by budgets from state and local governments. Universities are increasingly offering onsite career services which paves the way for more career counselor positions.
Career counselors are incorporated with school and educational counselors as describe by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, therefore employment statistics will not be estimated for just career and vocational counselors. Counselors in the career sector are often employed by schools, universities, vocational rehabilitation services, and individual/family services. Employed most in California, Texas, and New York, career counselors may earn up to $66,000 a year.