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Career: Career Counselor

A Day in the life of a Career Counselor

Career counselors serve as teachers, confidants, and advisors to their clients. They help people examine their interests, styles, and their abilities to find and enter the profession that best suits them. They can be helpful to people who have yet to choose a career and people who are unhappy with their choice. Career counselors spend most of their day meeting with clients. Early sessions explore the history and behavior of the client to help the clients understand their own motivations and desires more thoroughly. Working with younger people, especially, career counselors must understand and appreciate the role of parents and the student’s home environment. An understanding of the client’s peer and familial pressures, along with a familiarity with current events and culture, allow the career counselor to make contact and earn the trust of his or her clients. Most career counselors have a degree in counseling or another mental health field. After conducting a thorough evaluation of the client’s personality traits, counselors must use their expertise to help clients assess their skills base and direct them to a career wherein those skills may be most profitably employed, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction. Counselors are responsible for knowing what skills are needed in a broad variety of professions, how much they pay, and what a hiring authority will want to see in a successful applicant. They then coach the client through the process of researching fields that match their interests, setting up informational interviews with people to supplement their research, and finally targeting or creating specific job positions that meet their needs. Counselors try to empower the clients to become as active as possible in their search.

Paying Your Dues

Most career counselors have a master’s degree in a field such as mental health counseling, psychological counseling, or community counseling. At the moment, career counseling is an unregulated field, but most members of the profession are licensed in their state of business as a professional counselor. Nevertheless, people come to the profession through a variety of paths. Some counselors come from social work or human resources management. Others come to career counseling from a discipline such as law or medicine and then use their industry expertise to counsel people in their former field. Many professionals embark on continuing education courses in counseling or psychology. Familiarity with basic personality, interest, and skills tests, such as the Holland Code, the Myers-Briggs Analogy Test, and the Birkman Personality Assessment (a customized version of which appears in this book) are invaluable aids in assessing clients’ occupational aptitudes. Usually, a successful career counselor works as an independent counselor but receives references from other services, therapists, or agencies. The profession may entail long hours, intense listening and assessment, and the ability to think objectively without being swayed by emotion.

Associated Careers

Career counselors have skills that involve helping other people understand themselves better and take proactive steps to improve the quality of their work lives. Many career counselors are able to transfer these skills to the realms of teaching, vocational counseling in school, social work, and coaching; other counselors go on to obtain advanced degrees, become therapists, and start private practices. Those counselors who are more interested in the business applications of their craft go into outplacement, corporate recruitment, and professional headhunting.

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