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The question of whether you can get a business job with a counseling degree is twofold. Perhaps the more relevant question is “what is a business job?” Business activities occur in every career and occupation so defining what constitutes a business job is crucial to deciding how a counseling degree plays into the situation. For the purposes of this article, business jobs will be considered as careers including, but not limited to: financial adviser, analyst, accountant, executive, sales representative, etc. Whether a job in one of these, or similar, careers is attainable with a counseling degree depends in part of what type of counseling degree you have.
As in many fields, the amount of education gained influences prospective employers. Someone with a master’s degree, as opposed to an undergraduate degree may have more job opportunities. Many entry level jobs in counseling fields require a master’s degree at minimum. The same is likely true for any prospective job seeker looking to enter the business field with a counseling degree and no complementary business background.
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Types of Counseling Degrees
There are undergraduate counseling degrees, most of which are grouped together as a Counseling/Psychology degree. Other undergraduate counseling degrees include Christian counseling and Counseling/Human services. Master’s in Counseling degrees can be had as an M.A. or an M.S. and often fall within a university's School of Education. The career path of these specific degree holders usually leads to school counseling work, marriage counseling, career/guidance counseling work for schools or private employment or state social work agencies. The more specific Master of Education in Counseling (M.Ed.) is related to working in educational institutions, and, like the Master of Social Work (MSW), qualifies one for employment with mental health groups. The MSW along with the Master in Counseling Psychology often leads to substance abuse counseling, along with mental health counseling. The Master is Counseling Psychology can lead to the actual practice of psychology in some states, or at least working closely with a licensed psychologist.
Counseling and Business
Many businesses use counseling services to help them achieve their goals, however many of these counselors have a business education or a background in running actual business. Some businesses also employ counselors in their Human Resources departments to help with employee motivation, productivity, and occasionally to deal with issues of harassment or bullying on the job. Ironing out interpersonal issues and increasing communication and efficiency are often a large part of this job.
Traditional Counseling Alternatives
Executive coaching and its related field, business psychotherapy, have become valuable resources for companies. With changes in technology and marketplace expectations ever increasing, businesses often find themselves trying to keep up. For a business this is bad news. Businesses are profitable and prosperous when they can lead and predict a changing climate rather than chase after it. Executive coaches are often used by companies to help employees transition into management roles and help them define their goals and outlook in relation to their co-workers. Business psychotherapists can help redefine a business’s purpose and organize a focused, result oriented approach.
A counseling degree may not, at first glance, appear the obvious choice for someone seeking a career in business. However, with some creativity, flexibility, determination and drive it could turn out to be the right educational background for a unique job position. As with any potential job, the key is to stay open to possibilities and seize the best opportunities when they present themselves.