Choosing a career can be a real challenge. How do you know what type of jobs are right for you? Is a particular profession suited to your personality, interests, and goals? High school students, college graduates, and adults interested in a career change have to face these difficult questions, but a career counselor can help.
Career counselors work with people who have questions about different careers and educational paths. By working with these professionals, career seekers can make the most of the planning and decision-making process and hopefully find a job path that is perfect for their needs.
Facts About Career Counselors:
- According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, there were approximately 281,400 jobs in school and career counseling in the year 2010.
- Forty-seven percent of these jobs were in elementary and secondary schools.
- Nineteen percent worked at colleges and universities.
- Eight percent were employed at junior colleges.
- Six percent worked in vocational rehabilitation services.
What Do Career Counselors Do?:
Career counselors perform a range of duties, including the following:
- Administer personality and interest inventories
- Use achievement and aptitudes tests to help clients get a better idea of what they are good at
- Counsel clients who are considering a career change
- Evaluate clients educational and work backgrounds in order to help them determine what they need to do next to achieve their goals
- Advise students about what courses and educational programs they need for particular careers
- Help clients select the right schools or programs for their needs
- Help students locate sources of financial support to pay for school and other training programs
- Teach and practice jobs skills such as interviewing, resume writing, and networking
- Aid clients in the job search process by teaching them where to look for open positions and connecting them with job search resources
Where Do They Work?:
Career counselors often work in a variety of areas and with a broad range of clients. Educational settings such as high schools and college, government agencies, and private practices are just a few of the major areas of employment for people working in this field.
Some counselors work in high school settings and help students make college and career choices. Others work in higher-education settings and counsel university students who need help picking a major and deciding what they want to do when they graduate.
Still others specialize in working with adults who are already a part of the workforce. These individuals might seek out the assistance of a career counselor because they are considering a career change, want to find ways to advance in their current careers, or need assistance finding new work after being laid off.
In some cases, counselors might also work with disabled individuals who need assistance to acquire job skills and find employment. These professionals are often employed by private or government agencies that offer assistance to children and adults suffering from a range of disabilities. Teaching basic job skills, connecting clients with resources in the community, and communicating with potential employers are just a few of the tasks counselors might perform when working in this area.
How Much Do Career Counselors Earn?:
In 2010, the median annual salary for all school and career counselors was $53,380. Those employed by community and social service organizations earned considerably less, with a median annual wage of $39,280.
Training and Educational Requirements:
The majority of employers prefer school counselors to hold at least a master's degree in counseling with a specialization in career development. Career counselors generally do not need to be licensed, although many employers prefer it and some require it. Those who want to work in private practice, however, usually do need to be licensed. Licensure typically involves completing a master's program in counseling, performing an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, passage of a state licensing exam, and continuing education credits.
Those who are interested in working in elementary or secondary school settings generally need a master's degree in school counseling. Educational programs often have internship requirements where students gain hands-on experience by working under the supervision of a licensed professional. Counselors in school settings must also be licensed to work in the state where they intend to practice.
In some cases, individuals with a bachelor's degree in psychology can find entry-level positions in career counseling.
The Job Outlook for Career Counselors:
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the job demand is projected to grow by approximately 19 percent between the years 2010 and 2020. Most of this growth will be fueled by the increase in students enrolled in colleges and universities. The Department of Labor suggests that job growth for career counselors in higher education will grow at a faster rate of approximately 34 percent through the year 2020.
Recent economic challenges and a slow job market might also spur the demand for career counseling services. Displaced workers seeking new employment opportunities and recent college graduates faced with a sluggish hiring market might be particularly in need of the services of trained career counselors.
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Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. (2012). School and career counselors. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/school-and-career-counselors.htm