How to Become a Career Counselor

Career counselors have one of the most important jobs imaginable because they offer career guidance and advice.  Many decisions are made based on the advice of career counselors and many years of commitment, expense and perseverance is committed. Careers, jobs, lives and families are directly affected by a career counselor's idea of how to solve a problem in someone's working situation.

Education and training

Qualification requirements for career counseling vary depending on your location. In the US career counseling is unregulated, but in most states a license is required to practice. The field is a demanding market with high standards.

Top line US colleges offer Masters Degrees in counseling in areas like community and psychological counseling, and related areas. Some professionals become career counselors in their own fields, like law. Other counselors have a human resources background. From these fields, an aspiring career counselor obtains a good working knowledge base and most importantly, experience in the role of counselor. Most career counselors have a strong background in these related fields.

In formal training, counselors learn the use of methods like the Myers Briggs test, aptitude and personality tests, used for client advice, assessment and analysis. These tests are often very valuable to clients as guides for their approach to choosing a career, career changes, or dealing with specific situations.

The workplace environment

Career counseling is done on a case management basis, often involving very different situations, individuals, and issues. This is a job which places the counselor in the roles of mentor, problem solver, and impartial observer simultaneously. The work involves obtaining information, sometimes a great deal of information, and assessing both clients and their issues objectively. Client expectations are usually very high.

In many cases clients are traumatized by major career issues. Clients are often referred to career counselors by other professionals like therapists, which is an indication of the degree of difficulty involved in some cases. "Case management" can mean years of counseling.

The positive elements, however, are inspiring. Counseling professionals do provide a worthwhile and useful service. Experienced career counselors are people with commitments to match their jobs. They love their work, and they wouldn't do anything else. In most areas of counseling, their deep personal motivation is well rewarded by their work. They can put people's careers and lives back together, and help those in real distress.

The career environment

In terms of remuneration, a career counselor is in the top bracket of professional counseling. Career counselors can earn up to $1000 an hour. These are client fees, and additional income may be earned from coaching other counselors, industry teaching or training contracts or publications. Career advancement is assessed on a business basis, as well as the professional aspects of counseling. Some career counselors specialize in particular career types, a form of "niche marketing" which is often highly regarded and much in demand in those industries.