Career Counselor: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

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

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Career counselors are professional consultants who look at an individual's education level, work history, and interests to suggest potential career paths and set career goals for their clients. While there's no set requirement to enter this field, many candidates are expected to have at least a master's degree.

Essential Information

Career counselors help people with job-related issues, such as finding work, setting career goals and dealing with stress on the job. A master's degree is often necessary; however career counseling does not have strict education requirements compared to other counseling specialties. In some cases, a college degree may not be required for this line of counseling; and other employers hire candidates with a bachelor's degree. However counselors without a college degree must have professional experience. Licensure may also be needed.

Required Education Master's usually required, bachelor's or high school diploma sometimes accepted
Other Requirements Certification or licensure may be necessary, experience required for candidates without a degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% for vocational, school, educational and guidance counselors
Median Salary (2015)* $53,660 annually for vocational, school, educational and guidance counselors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Counselor Job Description

Career counselors take a person's education level, work history, personality, interests and skills into account and suggest careers that match his or her background and abilities. Their goal is to match people with jobs that will give them the greatest balance of financial payoff and job satisfaction. In addition to helping people who are just entering the workforce, career counselors help people who have lost their jobs, are between jobs, unhappy with their career choices or experiencing other types of job stress.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that jobs for career and school counselors were predicted to increase 8% from 2014-2024, which is about as fast as average. In May 2015, the median annual salary of educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors (including career counselors) was $53,660, per BLS reports.

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Career Counselor Job Duties

Career counselors may seek out potential clients by giving presentations on their services. They examine client records, conduct interviews and administer aptitude and achievement tests to gather information that assists them in helping clients choose careers. They collect information about schools and programs, such as tuition, cost of books and schedules for clients interested in pursuing schooling. Career counselors help people develop career plans, teach people job search techniques and inform people about the labor market. They also keep records of their clients' job applications, cover letters and resumes.

Career Counselor Requirements

Although there are no strict education requirements for becoming a career counselor, most counselors have master's degrees in counseling. A master's degree is usually required to obtain licensure in most states; however, a license is not always necessary for career counselors. For instance, a career counselor working in private practice may need a license while a career counselor employed by a college may not need a license. Employers that do not require licensure may only require a bachelor's degree rather than a master's. Some employers may even hire people who do not have a college degree, but have appropriate work experience.

Career counselors provide their clients with consultations and references to determine the career paths they're interested in and the ways to pursue it. While there's no strict education requirement, interested individuals typically need a master's degree in counseling in order to obtain licensure with the state. This job field is growing about as fast as the national average market, by 8% from 2014-2024, but those interested will still need to be competitive and organized in managing clients' information and potential paths.

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