Career Development Specialist: Job Duties, Salary and Requirements

Oct 02, 2019

Providing counseling and guidance to people looking for the perfect career, whether they are just entering the work force or making a switch, is the daily task of a career development specialist. These professionals help their clients in every aspect of career decisions, from training to resume writing to choosing a career path. Licensing is usually required, as is a graduate degree relevant to this field.

Essential Information

Career development specialists connect individuals with potential employers and help job seekers learn interview, job search and resume writing skills. These professionals typically require a master's degree and may also need to obtain licensure, depending on state law.

Required Education Master's degree in social work, counseling, psychology or similar subject
Other Requirements Licensure requirements vary by state
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 8% for educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors
Mean Salary (2018)* $60,160 for educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Development Specialist Job Duties

Professionals in this field help people choose career paths or switch career fields. Career development specialists are sometimes referred to as career counselors. Specialists give assessment tests to clients as a way to determine several factors, such as personality types, skills, and work ethic. Information gathered from these tests allows specialists to figure out which career paths are best-suited to clients.

They may also assist clients with finding academic or vocational training programs. Many specialists teach clients about finding jobs, including how to write resumes, locate potential employers, and conduct interviews. Helping clients improve their communication and conflict management abilities may also be included.

Career Development Specialist Salary

Information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, showed that in May 2018, employers reported paying educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors a median salary of $56,310. Most of these professionals earned between $33,610 and $94,690 per year.

Career Development Specialist Job Requirements


According to the BLS, career counselors usually need master's degrees to find employment. Acceptance into master's degree programs first requires earning a bachelor's degree, and undergraduate degree programs in counseling, social work, or psychology may prepare students for graduate studies.

Many graduate degree programs in counseling provide concentration options in career counseling. Coursework in these programs may include career development, individual and group guidance, client assessments, organizational development, counseling theories, and cross-cultural counseling. Nearly all graduate programs require students to complete counseling practicums or internships.


Career development specialists are not always required to be licensed, depending on state law; however, those in private practices must typically obtain licensure. According to the BLS, licensing requirements vary for each state, but candidates generally need graduate degrees as well as between 2,000 and 3,000 hours of supervised counseling experience. Additionally, applicants must pass all required state exams. Some states write their own exams, whereas other states use exams from the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). The NBCC doesn't provide licensure to practice, but it does grant certification, which can help counselors obtain state licensure.

The national counselors exam offered by the NBCC covers topics such as career and lifestyle development, assessment and career counseling, counseling fundamentals, group work, and professional ethics. Information from the BLS shows that most states require professional counselors to complete continuing education coursework on an annual basis in order to maintain state licensure.

Career development specialists, often called career counselors, work in a variety of settings to guide people in making decisions about their work. Career development specialists are trained through undergraduate and graduate programs that usually provide courses or concentrations in career counseling. Licensing may be required depending on the state, and certification is available, which may help in the licensure process.

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