Employment Counselor Jobs: Career Options and Requirements

Sep 27, 2019

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

An employment counselor can work in schools or rehab facilities, providing occupational guidance to clients. A master's degree in a relevant major is required, and licensure varies by state and employer. Additional certification is offered as well.

Essential Information

Employment counselors, also known as career or vocational counselors, evaluate a clients' abilities and interests and help them choose appropriate jobs or career paths. A master's degree typically is needed to work as an employment counselor, and licensure might be required as well.

Required Education A master's degree in counseling with an emphasis in career counseling
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 8% for school & career counselors
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $56,310 for educational, guidance, school & vocational counselors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most employment counselors work in schools (www.bls.gov). Some counselors also work in multi-disciplined rehabilitation facilities that offer both treatment and counseling services.

Advancement opportunities typically are found within each type of practice. For example, an employment counselor with a career center might progress to a position as a supervisor or administrator.


A master's degree typically is the minimum education requirement for state licensure, which employment counselors might be required to attain. Students might choose to pursue a Master of Arts, Master of Science or Master of Education in Counseling with a focus in career counseling. Topics of study are likely to include human and career development, motivation, career change and organizational behavior. Additionally, master's candidates typically complete employment counseling fieldwork and a thesis.

For those already working as counselors, several universities offer graduate certificate programs in career counseling. These programs typically consist of 12-15 credit hours, including courses in career counseling theories and testing and assessment. Some certificate programs include practice in the field.

Licensure and Certification

Whether a vocational counselor needs state licensure might depend on his or her place of employment, according to the BLS. For example, some states require employment counselors to have a license if they plan to work for themselves but not if they're employed by a college or university. Requirements for licensure vary by state, but they tend to include a master's degree and supervised clinical experience. Some states also require licensure candidates to pass an exam.

Additionally, employment counselors might seek voluntary certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors. Candidates for the National Certified Counselor designation must pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, which some states also use as a qualification for licensure.

An undergraduate degree, some experience, and, possibly, a license are necessary to become an employment counselor. An examination can be taken to acquire professional certification. These professionals may choose to work in counseling services provided by schools or medical facilities.

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