How to become a career counselor

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.

Earn a master’s in mental health and wellness counseling online from NYU.

  • No GRE required

Earn your Master’s in School Counseling from the University of Southern California.

  • No GRE required

What does a Career Counselor do?

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).

  • Individual and group counseling sessions
  • Promotion of self-advocacy and determination
  • 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 can lay 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 degrees, 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 counselor exam for graduation or certification/licensure such as the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and/or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Check the available licenses and required examinations for counselors in your state through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Step 5: Apply for and earn additional certifications.

The National Career Development Association (NCDA) offers credentials 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.

“It’s YOUR career! Take Control of it before someone else does.”

How to become a career counselor

The Army Career Counselor is the tip of the spear in meeting the Army’s end strength. They live the Career Counselor creed and embody the warrior ethos. The hours are long , the mission is difficult, but the Career Counselor meets these hurdles with continuous success.

Look through the site, if you meet these minimum requirements click on Career Counselor Packet Example at the bottom of the page!

The Career Counselor Creed

I am honored to serve as the honest broker for the soldier and the commander’s eyes and ears in the unit. I exist to keep the Army’s forces strong through the retention of America’s sons and daughters, our soldiers. I realize that since the birth of our Army before America was a nation, soldiers required advice and counseling to decide the proper course of action in doing their part to defend our nation. My role is to tell the truth, and to honestly represent my country and the soldiers I serve to the utmost of my abilities. To do less is to forsake my duties and my fellow Career Counselors.

I wear the Career Counselor Badge with pride and full knowledge that this very symbol epitomizes our nation and our duty to sustain America’s fighting force. The musket on my badge symbolizes the courage of our forefathers and the role of the Army in defending our nation. The eagle represents the spirit of the American people that we defend, and whose soldier’s careers have been placed in my trust. The olive branch on my badge is the most important part, for it signifies peace, that is the goal of every American soldier.

My commanders and senior leaders will be assured that their soldiers are afforded the most effective counseling available. My superiors will not be burdened with my duties and responsibilities. Loyalty and honesty to superiors, peers and subordinates are my credentials. I will exercise initiative, integrity and the courage to convey the Army’s story, good or bad to all those who serve with me. I am a Career Counselor, by choice an advisor to soldiers, leaders and peers. A trusted intermediary that will never forget the professional aspects of my existence.”

  1. A physical demands rating of Moderate (Gold)
  2. A physical profile of 222321
  3. Qualifying scores
  4. Must possess finger dexterity
  5. Constantly engages in oral conversation, makes oral presentations, and must possess the ability to communicate in a public forum without speech impediment
  6. Must not possess obviously distracting physical characteristics or mannerisms
    • Minimum score of 100 in aptitude area GT and 100 in aptitude area ST in Armed Services Vocational aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests administered prior to 2 January 2002.
    • A minimum score of 100 in aptitude area GT and 96 in aptitude area ST on ASVAB tests administered on and after 2 January 2002
    • A minimum OPAT score of Standing Long Jump (LJ) – 0120 cm, seated Power Throw (PT) – 0350 cm, Strength Deadlift (SD) – 0120 lbs., and Interval Aerobic Run (IR) – 0036 shuttles in Physical Demand Category in “Moderate” (Gold)
  7. Soldiers must possess a valid Secret security clearance awarded as a result of a NACLC or higher level investigation for initial award and to maintain the MOS. If a Soldier does not possess a Secret Clearance awarded by a favorable NACLC or higher level investigation, the Soldier must initiate a NACLC level investigation and be awarded an Interim Secret clearance to be qualified to attend the Career Counselor Course. Soldiers not meeting this qualification will not be enrolled
  8. Must be serving on a second or subsequent tour
  9. Must have 36 months’ time remaining in service upon completion of the Career Counselor Course. Action must be taken prior to course attendance
  10. The following rank criteria must be met
    • Be a SGT (P) with less than 12 years of total active federal service upon graduation from the Career Counselor Course. ( Can request Waiver ) All SGT(P)s that have not completed ALC prior to course attendance will receive constructive credit upon graduation from the Army Career Counselor Course per AR 350-1 paragraph 3-20(1)
    • MOS closed for reclassification at SSG and above. ( Can request Waiver for SSG )
  11. Must have successfully completed Department of the Army Retention Training (DART) within two years of packet submission to the proponent office at the Recruiting and Retention College no exceptions
  12. Must have no history of lost or bad time during the current enlistment or in the past 5 years, whichever is longer
  13. Must have no history of drug or alcohol dependency intervention program of any type
  14. Have no marital, emotional, or major medical problems (to include immediate family members) that would hinder performance as a Career Counselor. Note: Every effort will be made to assign Soldiers with family members enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) to a military installation where definitive medical care is available. There is no guarantee that the assigned location will accommodate the Family’s special needs. EFMP must be updated through the three year service remaining requirement (SRR)
  15. A high school diploma graduate or equivalent (GED)
  16. Be recommended by a LTC or higher commander. Additionally, all applicants for PMOS 79S must be interviewed and endorsed by a Command Career Counselor (SGM). DA G-1 (DAPE-MPE-PD) is the only approval authority for exceptions to policy
  17. Have no record of conviction by summary, special or general courts martial or civil courts of offense (e.g. Lautenberg Amendment) to include reprimands for any offense as listed in AR 27-10 (Military Justice), chapter 24 or otherwise required to register as a sexual offender under AR 27-10, chapter 24
  18. Formal training (successful completion of MOS 79S course conducted under the auspices of the Recruiting and Retention College) is mandatory
  19. Serving on a dependent restricted tour, waive home base or advanced assignment
  20. Upon submission of packet, all Soldiers must submit the following Army Computer Based Training (CBT)/Smart Force Course: Any one of the 2016 versions of Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Power Point and one course of their choice
  21. Must meet any additional selection criteria outlined in AR 601-280 (AA) or as announced in HQDA/Policy messages
  22. Must be a citizen of the United States
  23. Must meet height and weight standards as outlined in AR 600-9
  24. Must agree to voluntary recoupment of a Selective Reenlistment Bonus (SRB) as required by AR 601-280
  25. Must meet all reassignment and reclassification guidelines in accordance with AR 614-200. Note: All applicants who fail to maintain eligibility for course attendance or who fail to complete the Career Counselor Course are required to be processed as an exception to policy for rescheduling/re-attendance

7 thoughts on “Become a Career Counselor”

Just looking to confirm if an E7 (active component) can apply to reclass because it says that reclassification is waiverable if it above E6. Looking to do it if it is.

How to become a career counselor

Throughout a person’s life, his or her career path may grow and evolve, change drastically or remain relatively the same. Regardless, each career path is unique to the individual.

Career counselors understand that a career is more than just a job.. A career counselor’s top priority is to work with their clients to help them identify and reach their ideal career goals. This means finding a career that not only aligns with the client’s education or previous experience, but one that is also compatible with his or her personality traits, life style and future ambitions.

For those wondering how to become a career counselor, be aware that most career counselor positions require a master’s degree, and, in many cases, a corresponding internship to prepare prospective career counselors for the job responsibilities.

What does a career counselor do?

The daily responsibilities of a career counselor vary, but, generally, after meeting a new client, assessments and exercises are completed to learn about the client’s background, education and personality. After achieving a full understanding of the client’s history and needs, counsel is provided on potential career and job options, strategies to use and general education to support achieving the client’s career goal. This could include instruction about job searching techniques, resume writing and job interview skills.

Career counselors have the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients in different stages of life — it’s hard to imagine a person who doesn’t have dreams of improving or changing his or her career. A career counselor may work in a college or university helping students determine what careers are good options for the degree they’re pursuing. Another potential area of focus for a career counselor is supporting clients who are struggling to find a job or who were recently laid off. Finally, career counselors may choose to work with clients who currently have an occupation but are looking to make a change or pursue a promotion.

The ability to influence the direction of a person’s life by providing the tools and knowledge to achieve his or her career goals is just one of the perks of being a career counselor. This occupation affords the opportunity to meet and work with all kinds of different people and, in many cases, to enjoy the satisfaction that comes with watching clients thrive and succeed in their goals.

How to become a career counselor

The first steps in becoming a career counselor are obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a related field and then a master’s degree in counseling with a focus on career development, if possible. The master’s degree in counseling provides specific training to prepare for the on-the-job responsibilities. In addition to the academic courses, many programs include an internship component so that students gain hands-on training.

A teaching license and a criminal background check may also be required for those who want to provide career counseling at a high school or at a post-secondary institution.

What skills do career counselors need?

There are certain key skills and personality traits that candidates for a career counseling position should have:

  • Ability to display empathy

In many situations, a client will seek career counseling because he or she is under stress or has anxiety about his or her current employment situation. For example, a person who has unsuccessfully been seeking employment for more than a year may be highly emotional during a counseling appointment. The job of a career counselor is to provide empathy and compassion for each client’s unique situation to reach a level of understanding before moving forward with counsel and advice.

  • Critical thinking skills

Career counselors need to be able to read their clients in many ways, from their overall impression of the client, to using analytical skills to assess the client’s tests and reports, to uncovering what information the client may not be sharing. All of these pieces are important to the puzzle of determining and recommending the right career or job opportunities.

  • Communication skills

A significant part of a career counselor’s role is interacting directly with clients. This involves actively listening to what the client is saying and ensuring the client feels heard and understood. This also includes excellent speaking skills so that instructions and information are clearly communicated to the client.

  • Relationship-building skills

Career counselors build trust with their clients by making them feel comfortable and accepted. Career counselors should be nonjudgmental and welcoming to all types of people and personalities.

What to expect from a career counselor career

Not only can career counseling be a rewarding and interesting profession, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are positive job prospects for candidates with this education and training. From 2016 to 2026, employment of career counselors is projected to grow by 13 percent. This is faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS also reports that the median annual wage for career counselors in May of 2017 was $55,410.

With the cyclical nature of workers leaving the workforce each year and new graduates taking their places, there will continue to be demand for career counselors. Becoming a career counselor means gaining the ability to work with and influence the lives of all types of people by helping them reach their career goals.

Learn More:

The human services field is expansive and varied, as are the positions available within it. There are associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs available to help those seeking a career in human services learn what they need to do to reach their goals and understand what those jobs will look like once they’re there.

The Master of Counseling program at Wake Forest University can help give students the tools they need to enter the counseling profession with a firm grasp of key concepts and training. Find out more about our comprehensive curriculum and apply today.

Step 1: Understand the job description and responsibilities of a Career Counselor – Higher Ed.

What does a Career Counselor – Higher Ed. do?

A Career Counselor – Higher Ed. assists and counsels students with their transitions to employment. Organizes workshops to develop the necessary skills associated with career development. Being a Career Counselor – Higher Ed. supports on-campus recruiting efforts and programs involving student and employee interactions. Develops student advising resources and facilitation guides. Additionally, Career Counselor – Higher Ed. typically requires a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Typically reports to a manager or head of a unit/department. The Career Counselor – Higher Ed. gains exposure to some of the complex tasks within the job function. Occasionally directed in several aspects of the work. To be a Career Counselor – Higher Ed. typically requires 2 to 4 years of related experience.

Career counselors provide a valuable service to students attending college.

Not only do they serve as mentors for students and recent graduates, career counselors also link potential employers to the talent offered by the school or university.

However, this cannot be done if your career services office does not have a good relationship with students on campus.

If your career services office is having trouble connecting with students, use the following tips to help bring them in.

Now is the time to serve as a mentor/guide to their future careers.

Step 2: Learn best tips to become a Career Counselor – Higher Ed.

Best tips for those who want to become a Career Counselor – Higher Ed.

Here are some tips to become a Career Counselor – Higher Ed..

Step 3: View best colleges and universities for Career Counselor – Higher Ed.

Best colleges and universities for Career Counselor – Higher Ed.

  • Butler University
  • Carroll College
  • High Point University
  • Princeton University
  • Providence College
  • Rollins College

Step 4: Think about whether is it worth to be a Career Counselor – Higher Ed.

Is being a Career Counselor – Higher Ed. Worth it?

Career counseling can help point people in the right direction when it comes to choosing careers that they will excel at and be happy with.

Career services offices accomplish these goals through career counseling and a range of programs and services designed to help students make the connection between the academic program and the workplace.

Career counseling is frequently offered on a one-on-one basis, but at times this service is provided through group workshops, classes, or computerized guidance systems.

Career counseling often includes the use of standardized assessment instruments such as the Strong Interest Inventory, the Self-Directed Search, or other instruments designed to clarify career interests, values, personality, or self-identified skills.

This master’s degree is for individuals who are interested in pursuing careers as counselors, administrators, and/or numerous other positions in higher education at the community college, college, and university level.

Step 5: Prepare relevant skills for being a Career Counselor – Higher Ed.

What skills do you need to be a Career Counselor – Higher Ed.?

Management often looks to professional level roles for execution on their visions and goals, as such some specific skills are required. The workload of this role requires knowledge of: Academic Assessment, Academic Counseling, Career Counseling, Event Planning and Management, Financial Aid Programs and Policies, Psychological Counseling, Student Counseling, Employment Counseling, Financial Advising. If you highlight these skills during your interview process, you will be more likely to land the job!

Step 6: View average salary for Career Counselor – Higher Ed.

How much does a Career Counselor – Higher Ed. make?

The average salary range for a Career Counselor – Higher Ed. is from $45,863 to $57,602. The salary will change depending on your location, job level, experience, education, and skills.

How Can Army Enlisted Personnel Apply for OCS?

U.S. Army career counselors work with soldiers and commanders on retention, reclassification and reenlistment initiatives. You’ll help soldiers in their reenlistment windows decide whether to stay in the service, transfer to the reserves or move into a different classification. This is a vital role for the Army and its soldiers. You do need some service experience to become a career counselor in the Army; you can’t just enlist into this military occupation specialty, or MOS. You need to be a noncommissioned officer and to meet a range of criteria before you can train as a career counselor.

Rank and Service Criteria

Army career counselors are NCOs who have reached the rank of sergeant or staff sergeant. You must be serving on your second, or subsequent, service term, with no more than 12 years of time in service, if you’re a sergeant, or no more than 15 years, if you’re a staff sergeant. You also need to have completed the basic noncommissioned officer course and will have served as a reenlistment NCO for at least six months before you apply for the career counselor MOS. Your service record must be clean.

Education and ASVAB Scores

The basic education requirement for a career counselor is a high school diploma or one year in college. You also need to meet certain criteria on the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery tests, which give you composite scores that indicate your aptitude to do the job. To become a career counselor, you need a General Technical score of 110. This score uses the tests you take in arithmetic reasoning and verbal. The GT score may be waived to 100 if you score 100 on the Skilled Technical composite. This score comes from your results in general science, verbal, mathematics knowledge and mechanical comprehension.

Personal Criteria

You must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old to apply to become a career counselor. You won’t get into this MOS if you have undertaken any intervention program for drug or alcohol dependency, and you shouldn’t have any serious medical problems or marital/emotional issues that could interfere with your ability to do the job. The Army won’t transfer soldiers into this role if they are pregnant.

Applying to Become an Army Career Counselor

If you meet the criteria for this job, you need to make a formal application to Human Resources Command. First, you should arrange an interview with your command’s career counselor — you need her to recommend you for the MOS before you can apply. You’ll also need a letter of recommendation from the commander of your battalion. Both the career counselor and the commander will check your application to make sure it is complete before it is sent for processing.

How to become a career counselor

If you want to learn how to help veterans, active-duty service members and military families address the harrowing mental health issues that can arise from military service, consider pursuing a career in military and veterans counseling. Military and veterans counselors provide crucial support and coping tools to a population that arguably needs mental health care more than any other in the U.S.

“Depression just set in. I was going to work one morning and I could not stop crying.”-Veteran 1

Of the 2.8 million U.S. service members deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, it is estimated that up to 20 percent experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and up to 15 percent experience depression. 2 Other issues facing veterans and service members include adjustment disorder, anxiety, bipolar, military sexual trauma, traumatic brain injuries, alcohol or drug problems, schizophrenia and/or suicide.

These conditions and their effects may make it extremely difficult for soldiers to perform their duties or for veterans to acclimate back into society and engage in healthy relationships. In fact, 44 percent of deployed service members have difficulty adjusting to civilian life and nearly half experience strains in family life after deployment. 2

“I filed a claim for PTSD because I realized I couldn’t hold down a job. I could not adapt to society when it came to employment. So, I started reaching out for mental health help.”-Veteran 1

The Department of Defense is taking steps to reduce the stigma associated with receiving mental health care for veterans and service members, and myriad opportunities exist to serve these individuals and their families with counseling services. 3 Here, we’ll cover the responsibilities military and veterans counselors, career opportunities and how to become a counselor for this population.

What does a military counselor do?

Depending on the position and organization, company, or government entity, you may work with active duty service members, veterans, and/or military families or couples in a group or individual setting.

Job responsibilities of a military counselor vary by role, but they may include the following:

  • Perform mental health assessments and psychological tests
  • Empower active duty service members and veterans to take control of their lives by providing tools to reduce stress and cope with duty-related anxiety, depression, PTSD and other mental health issues
  • Administer readjustment counseling that addresses psychological and relationship difficulties to aid individuals or families in the transition from deployment to civilian life
  • Help a veteran reconnect emotionally with a spouse or children after deployment
  • Provide vocational counseling services to veterans to help them find and keep a job and become self-sufficient
  • Counsel individuals or families dealing with grief, loss and tragedy
  • Deliver health and wellness presentations
  • If necessary, referring an individual to the proper channel for additional support or more intensive treatment

Ultimately, the goal of counseling is to help veterans, active duty service members and their families learn how to handle and treat mental and emotional difficulties so they can lead healthy, productive lives.

Where does a military counselor work?

As the largest integrated health care system in the U.S., the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is a natural place of employment for military and veterans counselors. More than 9 million veterans are enrolled in the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care program and receive care at VHA health care facilities, which include 170 VA Medical Centers and 1,074 outpatient sites. 4 Within the VHA system, you may find work at a VA medical center, hospital, clinic or a community-based Vet Center or clinic. The VA also operates a Military Crisis Line that connects veterans via phone, text or online chat to a trained counselor.

To serve active duty military personnel, you may be able to find a position at a military hospital or clinic—also referred to as military treatment facilities (MTFs)—located at military bases and posts around the world. Note that for VHA and MTF positions, some, but not all, are open to civilians.

A few examples of military and veterans counseling jobs you can pursue include:

  • Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Supervisor of Healthcare for Homeless Veterans
  • Child and Youth Military and Family Life Counselor
  • Military and Family Life Counselor
  • Addictions Counselor

How to Become a Counselor for Veterans and Service Members

To become a military counselor, you need to earn an accredited master’s degree in counseling, preferably with a focus, specialization or concentration in military and/or veterans counseling.

For instance, William & Mary offers a CACREP-accredited Online Master of Education (M.Ed.) with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, within which you can choose a specialization in Military and Veterans Counseling. In addition to providing students with a firm grounding in clinical mental health theories and practices, the curriculum also covers topics such as the assessment and treatment of trauma-related disorders, how to counsel military couples and families and military-to-veteran transition.

While earning your master’s in counseling, you should consider interning at the VA or at a facility that consistently serves veterans, active duty personnel and/or military families. Once you graduate, you must pursue the applicable licensure required in your state to practice.

Success Stories (Or, The Many Reasons Why You Should Pursue Veterans Counseling)

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs developed a public-awareness campaign called Make the Connection, which shares stories from veterans and service members who sought mental health care. 1

“[The help I got] makes me a better father. The longer I’ve been out, the more I’ve adjusted, and the more I look back, the more I see how helpful counseling has been, and not just for PTSD.”-Veteran

“Going to counseling and dealing with what I did doesn’t make me less of a soldier or less of a man. If anything it makes me a stronger soldier and a stronger man, because I can now deal with those issues and problems as they arise quicker.”-Veteran

“Life is so much better now because I know that I have someone that I can call. I know that I have someone that I can speak to. It really feels good to know that there is someone who’s waiting on me, who will be there anytime I need them just to talk just to get that emotion out of me. There’s always someone there for me.”-Veteran

Whether you have personally served in the military, you have a connection to veteran or you are simply called to serve those who have sacrificed so much, you will find an incredibly rewarding career path in military and veterans counseling.

Take the Next Step With William & Mary

The Military and Veterans Counseling specialization from William & Mary prepares culturally responsive counselors who are equipped to address the unique behavioral health needs of active-duty military personnel and veterans. Read the press release to learn more about this new offering from a respected “Public Ivy” institution.

Being certified in career counseling allows you to help students and professionals find their vocational calling. Read on to learn about the certification types, education required, common courses, licensing requirements, and if the certification can be obtained online.

What Is Career Counselor Certification?

To become certified as a career counselor, you can pursue one of two routes. To earn introductory credentials, you can complete an exam conducted by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC); this earns you the designation of National Certified Counselor (NCC). Then, you can pursue specialized certification to become a National Certified School Counselor (NCSC).

However, if you don’t wish to work primarily in educational institutions, you can seek specific career counseling credentials by attaining membership and then submitting a portfolio to the National Career Development Association (NCDA). You can earn the title of Fellow, Master Career Specialist (MCS) or Master Career Counselor (MCC). The latter requires applicants to already possess the NCC from the NBCC. The MCDP focuses on education and program planning as opposed to direct career counseling, so the NCC is not necessary and other prerequisites satisfy qualification standards.

Certification National Certified Counselor (NCC); National Certified School Counselor (NCSC), Master Career Counselor
Required Education M.A. or M.S. in educational psychology or counseling.
Common Courses Counseling theory, research methodology, career development and design
Requirements 3,000 hours professional development from master’s degree program; state counseling license
Online Availability Certification not available online
Median Salary (2018) $56,310* (for school and career counselors)
Job Outlook (2016-26) 13%* (for all school and career counselors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Is Required?

In order to qualify for any NBCC or NCDA counselor certificate, you must already possess a Master of Arts or Master of Science in a field such as educational psychology or counseling. These programs last approximately six semesters. In lieu of a master’s degree in a specifically relevant field, candidates can earn a graduate-level certificate in career counseling to complement a preexisting master’s degree in a related realm. These last about two semesters. Graduate-level programs in career counseling cover such topics as:

  • Research methodology
  • Counseling theory
  • Human development
  • Counseling laws and ethics
  • Communication skills
  • Career development and design

What Else Do I Need to Do?

Prior to receiving the National Certified Counselor (NCC) designation, you must complete 3,000 hours of professional development within the two years of graduation from an accredited master’s degree program. You can complete approved training through conferences, workshops and seminars. For all designations, you need to participate in continuing education and recertify every five years.

Regardless of your certification, you must obtain state licensure to legally practice. Requirements to do so vary by state, and may involve a single- or double-tiered process of qualification. After that, you may begin legally practicing career counseling within an academic setting, independent practice or organization.

Can I Earn Certification Online?

The National Counselor Examination must be completed at a designated location in your state. You may obtain regional exam information from the NBCC website. Some degree or certificate program and continuing education components can also be completed online depending on your program and school, but in-person practice hours are required for all formal training to qualify you for certification.

What Can You Do With a Psychology Degree? Consider Career Counseling

Graduating from college can be more daunting than graduating from high school since you will now have to make important career choices that will impact your life as an adult. Finding the right fit for you is important.

Many people find the field of psychology interesting to them but you may be wondering, “what can I do with a psychology degree?” Fortunately, finding jobs with a psychology degree is easier than you might think. This degree gives you many choices as to which direction to take in your new career. One interesting job we will discuss is career counseling. As a career counselor, you would help others identify their education and career goals, a job many people find extremely satisfying and rewarding.

What Does a Career Counselor Do?

A career counselor works with high school or college students in a variety of areas. One of the main duties of a career counselor is to assist students with making a decision on a career path. Once their career path is discovered, you will then direct them towards the appropriate educational program that would benefit them the most in this career.

For instance, if a particular individual chooses to become a physical therapist, you will assist that student in choosing an appropriate undergraduate degree that would be most helpful when they attend school for their graduate degree in physical therapy. Interviews and aptitude tests will help you evaluate a student to identify their interest and individual abilities. You will also provide tools that help students learn how to be organized and establish good time management skills.

As a career counselor, you have the potential to be one of the most influential people in the lives of these students. It is so difficult for students to differentiate between a career they think may be fun and one that is truly a good fit for them. You would be able to help them solve those problems and find the very best program for them, therefore changing their lives for the better.

Many high school and college students are confused about what their major should be. Selecting the right education path right away will eliminate future headaches over transferring credits and completing the appropriate course work for their desired program of study. You will help create realistic goals to achieve in their education and may provide small group counseling sessions as are needed by the student body.

Where Does a Career Counselor Work?

Many career counselors are hired as part of a college or university staff to work with incoming freshman, transfer students, and established students who may need assistance. In a college atmosphere, you will be working with students and their parents to help them discover the right path for them and help them meet their educational goals.

Career counselors can also be employed by middle and high schools. A career counselor in a middle or high school is referred to as a school counselor. As a school counselor you will be assisting middle and high school students in creating a plan to complete the necessary high school prerequisites that will help them with their overall education goals. You will also help them decide what colleges to apply to in regards to their program of choice.

If they choose to enter the work force or military, school counselors will identify what area would be most suited to their needs. School counselors can assist students in writing college application essays, filling out applications and writing a referral letter for that particular student. School counselors will also help to develop strategies with teachers, administrators and parents to help all students succeed with their education goals. You will also be expected to conduct classes on various issues surrounding high school students such as drug and alcohol abuse, planning for college, bullying and other topics.

Some career counselors will also work in government career centers. If you work in a government career center, you would focus on job placement for individuals. Private practice counseling groups also employ career counselors. All types of school and career counselors are generally employed full time.

How Can I Become a Career Counselor?

Career counselors must possess a bachelor’s degree and have credentials. Career counselors who work in a private practice are usually licensed individuals. Most employers do prefer their career counselors to have a master’s degree in counseling with a focus in career development. This is due to the fact that these programs will better equip students to be able to accurately assess client’s skills and interests.

A master’s degree is not mandatory, so a degree in psychology will suffice for this type of job. A degree in psychology can be earned at a university or by pursuing a psychology degree online. Many online colleges and online psychology schools offer programs to earn an online psychology degree, which is ideal if you do not have time to attend a physical university full time.

Some states require counselors to hold a state-issued license before they can practice school counseling. Each state has specific licensing requirements. Career counseling does not always require a license, so this is the perfect entry-level career for an individual with a degree in psychology. A person applying for a job in career counseling should possess good communication, listening skills, interpersonal skills and compassion for the individuals they work with.

Why Choose Career Counseling?

Career counseling is expected to grow as fast as the average for most careers. As student populations rise, there will be a greater need for counselors in schools. The average salary for a career counselor is around $53,000. Wages vary from about $32,000 to $85,000, dependent on education level, experience and what institution is employing the individual. Some school counselors also have summers off when school is not in session. Career counseling is a great job to build a path towards other occupations such as psychologist, mental health therapist, or human resource management.

A job in career counseling is a great choice if you are wondering what to do with a psychology degree. It offers diversity with its various job duties and the individuals that you will assist. If you complete your psychology degree, you will be well equipped for this job.