Career counselors specialize in helping point clients in the right direction of finding the appropriate career path for them. The career counselor will often assess his/her client with tests and interviews to get an idea of where their talents or interests lie. From here, they will make the appropriate career suggestions depending on the answers the client gave during the testing and interviews.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, becoming a career counselor starts with obtaining a master's degree in the field of career/school counseling or an area that's closely related. An aspiring student can expect to learn about fostering academic development, counseling clients on either an individual or group level, and sometimes working with school staff, teachers, or parents. Career counseling degrees typically require a practicum or internship to complete the education.
In most work environments, employers are very keen on hiring career counselors with degrees in counseling with an emphasis on career development. During classes for counseling degrees, students will learn how to study and asses the interests and talents of the client and then teach and convey career development techniques so that the client can make the right choice for his/her career path. It is not uncommon for employers to expect that career counseling applicants have completed an internship or undergone some other type of similar experience.
After obtaining a master's degree in career/school counseling, a person officially earns the ability to practice after they have obtained a state-issued certification credential. Depending on the state, this could be a license, a certification, or an endorsement. Criminal background checks are also required by most states to practice, but it helps to review the specific requirements of your state before taking action.
You also might find it odd that not all employers require this particular license or certification to be employed. However, it is often preferred. Private practice almost always requires this particular license. To qualify to participate in the certification, the applicant must have a master's degree in counseling as well as 2,000-3,000 hours of clinical experience under the supervision of a superior. A state exam might also be required, and continuing education credits are likely to be required as time goes on.
There are some important qualities that career counselors need to ensure that they will be a good fit for the job. For example, the individual must be able to express a sense of compassion for those who are going through emotional or stressful times. A career counselor must also be able to listen and speak to people appropriately. Because this career deals heavily in working with other people, people skills are an absolute must.
Overall, education is the majority of what is required by most states and employers to earn the right to officially practice. After a master's degree has been earned, work on receiving the state-issued certification and completing the particular state exam. If you're interested in working with and helping people, a job in career counseling might be right for you.