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Vocational Counselor Jobs: Career Options and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a vocational counselor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

A vocational counselor should have a master's degree in mental health or community counseling. Enrollment in a master's program requires a bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, sociology, counseling, or a related field. A state license may also be required.

Essential Information

Vocational counselors, also known as career counselors or job counselors, provide assistance to clients who are searching for a position that fits their work history, educational background, skills and future career goals. A career as a vocational counselor typically requires a master's degree and may require national or state licensure.

Required Education Master's degree is typically required
Licensure May be required depending upon type of employer and job duties
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% (for school and career counselors)
Average Salary (2015)* $56,490 annually (for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), vocational counselors may be employed by high schools, colleges, universities, government agencies or private employment organizations (www.bls.gov).

The Michigan Jobs & Career Portal says that vocational counselors interview clients to determine their education and professional histories then search job listings to match clients with open positions. In addition, some counselors specialize in working with disabled individuals, veterans, reformed criminal offenders or recent college graduates.

Education Requirements

The Princeton Review reports that most vocational counselors have earned a master's degree in a field like mental health or community counseling. In order to enroll in a master's degree program, students must first earn a bachelor's degree in psychology, sociology, counseling or a related field. As part of his or her education, an aspiring vocational counselor should study the tests used to measure skills, personalities and aptitudes, including the Birkman Personality Assessment and the Myers-Briggs Analogy Test.

Students in these master's degree programs should also expect to study:

  • Psychology
  • Professional ethics
  • Counseling theories
  • Career development

Licensure Requirements

Vocational counselors may need state or national licensure depending upon their employer and their career duties. For example, the BLS reports that a private practice vocational career counselor may need a professional license but that a counselor working in a college or university job center may not.

Should a license be needed for a career in private practice, vocational counselors can earn a state counseling license by completing a master's degree program, participating in 2,000 to 3,000 hours of verified clinical work experience and passing an exam. In addition, counselors need to complete continuing education credits in order to renew their license.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of school and career counselors should see an 8% increase between 2014 and 2024, which is just about the same as the average increase for all jobs in the United States. The BLS also cites the average salary of educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors as $56,490 per year, as of May 2015.

Vocational counselors may work for high schools, colleges, government agencies or private employment organizations. They conduct tests and interviews with individuals to help them identify careers that are suited to their interests. They may also advise students on courses to take to prepare for a specific career.

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