What Are the Differences Between a School Counselor and a Career Counselor?

| Staff Writers

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If you want to help individuals achieve their professional goals, there’s a good chance that you’ve considered working as a school or career counselor. To decide which vocation is the right choice for you, consider factors such as possible employment opportunities, day-to-day work tasks and the individuals you would counsel.

Differences between School and Career Counselors

The most obvious difference between school and career counselors is workplace setting. School counselors, of course, work in schools. They counsel children and work with parents and teachers to help students achieve educational success and plan for future academic or professional progress. School counselors may help students cope with life problems. These professionals work with students as young as preschoolers or as old as teenagers preparing to graduate high school.

Career counselors help individuals of all ages plan for future professional and career-related academic success, and they do so in many different environments. While some career counselors work in colleges and universities, many find employment outside of educational institutions. In rehabilitation services, career counselors may help out-of-work individuals develop new skills to return to the workforce. Depending on their workplace, career counselors may specialize in helping particular populations. Career counselors in prisons may work to improve prisoners’ skills so that they can find a job after they are released. Other career counselors help individuals with disabilities learn new skills to return to their previous field of work or prepare for a new profession. Still others work in government-sponsored career centers such as Career One-Stops, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. In this role, career counselors help individuals who are unemployed, underemployed or attempting to start their own businesses by offering career counseling services and coordinating educational opportunities for these individuals.

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Career Preparation for School and Career Counselors

Generally, the process of becoming a school counselor is more rigid than that of becoming a career counselor. School counselors typically need to complete a master’s degree program in school counseling specifically. Their coursework may include a professional experience requirement. They also have to obtain a license, certification or endorsement in the state in which they intend to work. While both a master’s degree and a license are advantages that can help career counselors attain their dream job, neither is required for many positions in career counseling. If an aspiring career counselor wants to pursue these qualifications, he or she can usually enroll in a graduate-level counseling program and take coursework that concentrates on career development. Clinical experience and passing scores on state tests are also necessary for acquiring a license in career counseling.

Though these two careers share many similarities, there are a number of differences between them, including how aspiring counselors in either career prepare for the occupation. Making a decision about which career to choose may require you to think about what individuals you are interested in working with and whether your focus is primarily on education or on career development.


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