Career counselors help people make the right career decisions. A career counselor assesses a client's work history, educational level, skills, personality and interests, and matches them to a suitable career or work industry. Career counselors help with job search, job applications and interview preparations. They also offer support in cases of job loss, career transition and work-related stress.
To become a career counselor, a person must first have a genuine desire to help other people. High ethical standards, good listening skills and communication skills are immensely important. They must be able to inspire trust and get along well with different personalities.
The ability to work independently as well as in a group is required for anyone who wants to become a career counselor. Patience and resilience are also required as stress levels can shoot up in this career. Computer and business management skills are equally necessary.
Educational qualifications required to work as a career counselor vary from area to area. Different states and regions may have different requirements. Generally though, career counselors must have a Master's Degree in counseling, education or psychology from an accredited educational institution.
It helps to have certifications from the International Coach Federation (ICF), the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and related educational programs (CACREP), and the National Board for Certified Counselors. Field experience in counseling, under a supervisor, is mandatory to become a career counselor. Some teaching experience may be required if applying to become a career counselor at a school, college or university.
With a changing economy and a growing trend towards multiple career changes, there is no dearth of career counselor jobs. Career counselors can work in job training centers, in career information centers and in vocational rehabilitation centers. They can work in local and national government agencies, in the Army, in welfare organizations, in business corporations, and in schools, colleges and universities.
Career counselors may also be self-employed in group practices or have their own private practice. A career counselor with a private practice must not only be professionally qualified, but also adept in marketing, in management, in establishing a wide contacts network and in keeping skills and knowledge current. Being associated with a professional association like the the National Career Development Association is beneficial.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, career counselors employed in industries or with well-established private practices can have a very good earning potential. More important than the earning potential, however, is the role a career counselor plays in helping people find their niche in life.