Career: 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.
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
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