Education and Training: College
Salary: Median—$45,570 per year
Employment Outlook: Very good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Employment counselors work with individuals, and sometimes with groups, to assist them in making wise career decisions. To help their clients find the right type of job, counselors collect and assess information about education, previous employment experience, skills, interests, and personal information.
Counselors may also administer a variety of tests to get further information about their clients. These may include aptitude and skills tests and personality assessments. These tests are also helpful in giving clients a better understanding of their vocational interests.
After assessing all of this information, employment counselors identify possible career options. They also discuss with their clients specific jobs within these areas, the type of work that is performed, and entry requirements.
Clients then use this information to conduct a job search on their own, or they seek the services of a job placement agency. Some employment counselors may also provide job placement assistance. They will search files of job orders from employers and try to match these with their clients' qualifications. They may also contact prospective employers to find out whether suitable job openings exist.
The number of jobs for employment counselors in private industry is growing. These counselors have detailed knowledge of their company and the requirements for the different jobs within it. They may meet with employees from time to time to discuss performance and offer suggestions for improvement when necessary. When employees wish to change jobs, the counselor may work with them to find a suitable position within the company.
Employment counselors must have excellent interpersonal skills. They must have a thorough understanding of the world of work and up-to-date information about trends that affect the employment outlook.
Education and Training Requirements
Entry requirements for employment counselors vary greatly depending on the type of position and each state's licensing. The minimum requirement is a bachelor's degree in psychology, vocational guidance, or counseling. Related degrees may also be acceptable if the counselor has experience in interviewing, job placement, or personnel work. Some state agencies and many private agencies require that their employment counselors have master's degrees. In many states a master's degree is required to receive a license to practice privately. A newly hired employment counselor is often given a period of on-the-job training.
Getting the Job
The placement office of a student's college is the best source of information about job openings. Individuals may also apply directly to private agencies that hire employment counselors. Those interested in federal and state agencies should register to take the necessary civil service examinations. Professional associations, Internet job banks, and publications may also be useful sources of information.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Employment counselors in federal and state agencies may advance to supervisory and administrative positions. Those in private practice can work to build their practices. In private business, counselors may move into other personnel and management positions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 248,000 employment, school, and educational counselors held jobs in 2004. Employment of employment counselors was expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2014. Many job openings will result from the need to replace counselors who advance to other positions or transfer to other fields. Employment for counselors in private industry is also expected to grow due to the fact that people are switching jobs and careers more frequently.
Employment counselors usually work a forty-hour week. In some agencies evening work is required to suit clients' schedules. Self-employed counselors often offer evening appointments and fit their schedules to the number of clients they have. Because privacy is an important part of the counseling process, counselors have their own offices. These are usually pleasant, well-lighted places to work, away from noise and other distractions.
Where to Go for More Information
National Association of Personnel Services
PO Box 2128
The Village at Banner Elk, Ste. 108
Banner Elk, NC 28604
National Career Development Association
305 N. Beech Circle
Broken Arrow, OK 74012
National Employment Counseling Association
5999 Stevenson Ave.
Alexandria, VA 22304
Earnings and Benefits
The earnings of employment counselors vary greatly. Salaries of those working for state agencies vary considerably from state to state. The median salary for employment, school, and educational counselors was $45,570 per year in 2004, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Counselors usually receive paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and retirement benefits.