Questions & Answers About Career Counselors
What is a career counselor?
Career counselors hold a graduate degree in counseling or a related field with a specialization in career counseling. Career counselors help people make and carry out decisions and plans related to life/career directions. They may be certified as a National Certified Counselor (N.C.C.) by the National Board for Certified Counselors. Career Counselors who meet the highest level of expertise in the field are designated as Master Career Counselors (M.C.C.) by the National Career Development Association.
What do career counselors typically do?
Strategies and techniques of professional career counselors are tailored to the specific needs of the person seeking help. It is likely that the career counselor will do one or more of the following:
- Conduct individual counseling sessions to help clarify life/career goals.
- Administer and interpret inventories to assess abilities, interests, values, and/or skills and to identify career options.
- Encourage exploratory activities through assignments.
- Utilize career planning and occupational information systems to help individuals better understand the world of work.
- Provide opportunities for improving decision-making skills.
- Assist in developing individualized career plans.
- Teach job hunting strategies and assist in the enhancement of resumes, cover letters, and online networking profiles (LinkedIn).
- Assist in understanding the integration of work and other life roles.
- Provide personal and mental health counseling for persons experiencing job stress, job loss, and/or career transition issues.
How can I find a career counselor?
Use a search engine or online yellow pages to access counselors’ websites. As you scan names, check to see if they list their credentials. When you call, ask these types of questions:
- Are you a Master Career Counselor?
- Are you a National Certified Counselor?
- What type of graduate degree do you hold?
- Are you a member of a professional national or state career counseling association?
- How can you help me?
- What can I expect the process to be like?
What do career counseling clients have the right to expect?
You may ask career counselors for a detailed explanation of services, fees, time commitments, and a copy of their ethical guidelines. Select a counselor who is professionally trained, who specifies fees and services upon request, and who lets you choose the services you desire. Make certain you can terminate the services at any time, paying only for services rendered. Career counseling requires the expertise of a trained professional. Be wary of services that promise you more money, quick promotions, or guaranteed work. Career issues are usually complex and require a multifaceted approach by a career counselor who has extensive education, training, and experience. Be skeptical of services that make promises of more money, better jobs, resumes that get speedy results, or an immediate solution to career problems. Professional career counselors are expected to follow the ethical guidelines of organizations such as the National Career Development Association, the National Board for Certified Counselors, and the American Counseling Association. Professional codes of ethics advise against grandiose guarantees and promises, exorbitant fees, breaches of confidentiality, and related matters of misconduct.
What did American adults say about their careers in a recent NCDA/NOICC Gallup Survey?*
Adults want quality career counseling and information.
72% would seek more information on career options if starting over.
80% (who sought it) found professional career counseling helpful.
78% found career information available.
53% see a need for more education or training to increase their earning power.
Adults perceived a need for more education and training.
48% of college graduates.
66% of those with some college education.
47% of high school graduates.
41% of non high school graduates.
*This information was found at NCDA’s Consumer Guidelines for Selecting a Career Counselor
What are career inventories?
Career inventories (also known as assessments) assess your values, interests, motivational traits, personal work style, personality, skills, and aptitudes. Each type of inventory is designed to gather data and provide you with meaningful feedback to help ensure that you will land in a career you will love, and in which you will be most successful!
The most effective career planning process involves utilizing various types of career inventories. To benefit from career inventory results, it is advised that you have a professional career counselor evaluate them and assist you in synthesizing the information to allow for effective decision making. Do note that there are no right or wrong answers when taking these inventories. Below is an explanation of each type of inventory.
It is important to incorporate your most highly regarded values into your work. A well designed values inventory will help you clarify and prioritize your career-related values. Values are unique to each individual and can change over time; thus values clarification is an ongoing process throughout your life and career. It is important to periodically review your values and priorities. For example, the values you had ten years ago may be quite different from your values today, and ten years from now they may be quite different again.
First developed in the late 1920s, career interest inventories have helped millions of people find their ideal career. A career interest inventory surveys your interests and aptitudes and compares the results to occupations that are best for you. A well designed career interest inventory will help you learn more about yourself to discover careers and occupations that best match the characteristics of your interests, abilities, and preferences.
A personality inventory is another essential component of career planning; it surveys your personality traits, key strengths, and personal work, leadership and communication styles, providing you with valuable insights about yourself, including what careers best fit your personality.
A skills inventory surveys your skills, identifying those skills that are transferable, and preferences in using certain combinations of skills in the future. All occupations can be classified according to the use of skills in three areas: 1) Skills with Things; 2) Skills with Information, and 3) Skills with People. Most occupations use skills in each of these three areas, however, the complexity of skills in each area differs in each job. We often tend to have “tunnel” vision and only see a portion of our skills and accomplishments. Also, it is often difficult to separate our skills from the environment, industry, or application in which they occurred in our employment history. Many skills are transferable to entirely different environments, industries, or applications.