If you are the type of person who enjoys helping others, especially in providing career guidance, then learning how to become a career counselor may be for you. A career counselor, also referred to as a vocational or employment counselor, helps people find vocational or college courses that support a career goal. The career counselor also aids individuals in finding a job in a chosen career. For those who are undecided about a career, a career counselor provides tests, information and evaluations to help you to arrive at a career decision. If this sounds like something you would like, here's how to become a career counselor:
- Speak to a guidance counselor. This is the type of position that you will be seeking, so getting the information "from the horse's mouth" so to speak is the best first step. If you are still in high school, you can talk to your high school counselor. However, it is a good idea to seek out a college career counselor to get more thorough direction.
- Get educated. Educational requirements vary by state. In most states, career counselors should have a master's degree in either psychology, counseling, social work or education in order to become a licensed career counselor.
- Obtain a license. Again, licensing requirements vary by state, so check with your state's specific requirements. However, in most states licensing is required to become a certified career counselor. Licensing requirements include varying hours of clinical experience as well as continuing education credits. It is worth looking into the National Board of Certified Counselors national exam, because the National Board for Certified Counselors grants a national certification credential, which exempts a career counselor from taking a state certification exam in some states. A career counselor who is targeting a government career counseling position needs to pass the civil service examination.
- Hone your listening and communication skills. Career counselors must have excellent listening skills. They spend their days listening to people. They need to be able to focus and dissect the information that is being given to them in order to provide spot on guidance, advice and direction.
- Apply for jobs. There are a number of places to apply for jobs to become a career counselor. Apply to social service agencies, state employment agencies, high school and college placement offices, professional organizations, internet job banks and newspaper classified ads.