Many undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in career counseling focus on recommended competencies outlined by the National Career Development Association (NCDA), which include career counseling theory, organizational behavior and administration, career development in special populations, vocational assessment and resource development. In general, students learn how to assess client interests and help them explore career options in both the short and long term.
Undergraduate applicants need to submit high school transcripts, standardized test scores, personal essay are necessary. Graduate applicants need to submit college transcripts, GRE scores, a resume, letters of recommendation and a personal statement. Most career counselors hold a master's degree. State licensure is typically required for career counselors who open private practices. Counselors may also gain professional benefits from being certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors. Some classes are offered online.
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Certificate Programs in Career Counseling
Undergraduate certificates are ideal for students currently pursuing a degree in a similar field, while graduate programs are for those looking to enhance their job prospects through specialization or who want to switch careers. Coursework focuses on various aspects of career counseling and often revolves around the essential skills detailed by the NCDA. Some class topics that might appear in the curriculum include:
- Assessment tools
- Workplace diversity
- History of counseling
- Organizational behavior
- Counseling administration
Career Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment for school and career counselors will grow by 8% between 2014 and 2024. Vocational, educational, guidance and school counselors made a mean annual salary of $56,490 as of May 2015, according to the BLS. The lowest-paid ten percent of these counselors made less than $33,000, while the highest-paid ten percent earned upwards of $87,000 that year.
Continuing Education Information
Practicing career counselors who wish to get certified can take the National Certified Counselor (NCC) exam administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). NCC certification is open to all types of counselors. This certification is not required to practice independently as a career counselor, being a voluntary certification sought by career counselors who have met the requirements.
This certification is not a substitute for state licensing; however, the NCC certification is a requirement for many states' licensing exams. State licenses represent a state's permission for a career counselor to practice. Some states require career counselors to get a single license, while others use a 2-tier system.
One advantage to NCC certification is that, unlike state certifications, it can be used as a credential no matter where the career counselor goes, even overseas. It represents a national standard. Additionally, NCC certification allows access to the NBCC's counseling referral service, qualifies the career counselor for discounts on liability insurance and helps counselors develop a professional network of colleagues.
Career counselor certificate programs can help those entering the field display their proficiency, though state licensee is still required for practicing counselors. This career field is expected to grow a decent amount in the next ten years.