Most career counselors spend their time counseling clients. During initial sessions, they ask clients about their career aspirations and motivations, work history, and education. When counseling younger individuals, they typically ask questions about their parents and upbringing. After learning more about clients' aspirations, training, and work experience, they typically ask questions or administer tests to learn more about personality traits and unique talents. After this is done, they usually have enough information to recommend potential satisfying careers and develop plans for their clients to reach their career goals. If clients do not agree with their recommendations, career counselors teach them research and job-searching skills, so they can continue their career search on their own. To be effective, counselors must understand what employers' seek in workers and what skills are required for various professions.
The following are typical duties of career counselors:
- Interviewing clients to determine career aspirations
- Conducting research to learn more about vocation pay rates, required skills, and employment growth
- Preparing personal development plans
- Recommending education and training programs
- Following up with clients regarding their job search
- Networking with business professionals to establish a list of potential employers to refer clients to
Career counselors usually hold master's degrees in community, psychological, and mental health counseling. States do not require them to be licensed, but they are typically licensed as professional counselors where they practice. Aspiring career counselors enter this profession various ways. Some gain work experience as human resources specialists or social workers before entering this field, while many working professionals complete continuing education courses during nights and weekends to develop the skills and knowledge to begin career counseling careers. Career counselors must be familiar with aptitude and personality tests, including the Birkman Personality Assessment and the Holland Code. They must possess excellent communication, listening, and analytical skills.