How to Become a Career Counselor
Career Counselor Careers & Degrees

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Career Counselors are professionals who help other individuals make career choices and choose a career or an educational path.

Their role is important in helping people make important life decisions that will affect them long term.

Career Counselors may work with individuals at any stage of their career including undergraduate students still deciding on a major, to experienced professionals who may be thinking of a career change.

Using their educational background and experience, Career Counselors will work individually with their clients to take assessments, discuss interests, skills and qualifications that may guide them to the perfect career path.

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Education Requirements to Become a Career Counselor

Individuals who would like to make the steps to become a Career Counselor must meet a variety of requirements in order to enter this profession.

Individuals must have a combination of personal characteristics, a postsecondary degree and possibly seek a certification, license or receive an endorsement in order to become a Career Counselor.

Some important characteristics to have to become a Career Counselor include: interpersonal skills, listening and speaking skills and the ability to show compassion.

All these skills will enable Career Counselors to help individuals who may be dealing with a stressful situation, such as unemployment or be able to communicate effectively with students or their clients for them to fully understand the scope of information being presented.

As far as educational requirements, individuals must complete a minimum of a Master’s degree in order to enter this profession.

Individuals must focus their degree in counseling with a focus in career development or a closely related field.

This educational track will prepare students with career development techniques and be able to evaluate an individual’s interests and skills.

In addition, many Counseling programs also require individuals to gain hands on experience through an internship.

Many employers prefer to hire individuals who are licensed.

However, a license is not necessary to enter this field.

To secure a license, individuals must complete a total of 2,000 to 3,000 of supervised clinical experience after attaining a Master’s degree.

Career Counselors must also take and pass a state issued exam and fulfill annual continuing education classes to remain licensed.

Visit the website for the National Board for Certified Counselors NBCC to learn more information about licensure.

Career Counselor Job Description

Career Counselors work individually with their clients to guide them to choose the best career path.

Some Career Counselors work in colleges or universities while others may own a private practice, work at an outplacement firm or in corporate career center.

Career Counselors will work with individuals in different stages of their lives from students beginning their undergraduate studies to experienced adults looking for a career change to individuals who have been out of a job or who have been laid off.

Career Counselors will typically begin with an assessment to determine an individual’s experience, skills and educational background.

They will help their clients determine the type of jobs they are qualified for and offer suggestions on how to qualify or if their degree is sufficient enough to apply for a certain position.

Career Counselors will also help individuals make a plan to make improvements in their current profession and give guidance on how to make the steps to enter a different field.

Career Counselor Salary and Career Path

In 2012, the median wage for School and Career Counselors was approximately $53,610 per year.

Exact wages will depend on the industry an individual works in.

For example, the median wage for Career Counselors who work for a federal government agency is approximately $50,710 while individuals working for schools at the state or local level earn approximately $60,560 per year.

These wages come with a full time schedule with individuals who work for a school system sometimes getting breaks off during the summer.

The job outlook for School and Career Counselors is expected to grow at an average rate of 12 percent through the year 2022.

This growth is attributed to an increase in school enrollments but may be limited by a possible decline of funding from state and local governments.

Career Counselors are individuals who help their clients make decisions about their career paths.

This includes meeting with them individually, taking assessments and helping them create a path to get to their preferred career choice.

Individuals interested in this path can expect job growth in this profession, as well as the ability to help individuals make progress in their careers.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$61,000
$34K
$44K
$61K
$74K
$96K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$53,120
Alaska$67,210
Arizona$51,140
Arkansas$54,040
California$78,250
Colorado$54,560
Connecticut$65,890
Delaware$66,790
District of Columbia$68,810
Florida$50,200
Georgia$57,800
Hawaii$60,790
Idaho$48,170
Illinois$56,650
Indiana$51,850
Iowa$54,910
Kansas$52,200
Kentucky$57,520
Louisiana$55,500
Maine$53,570
Maryland$70,380
Massachusetts$68,520
Michigan$57,470
Minnesota$59,100
Mississippi$50,710
Missouri$50,180
Montana$47,920
Nebraska$59,960
Nevada$57,900
New Hampshire$55,660
New Jersey$73,160
New Mexico$57,500
New York$68,890
North Carolina$52,360
North Dakota$59,740
Ohio$57,160
Oklahoma$46,480
Oregon$63,000
Pennsylvania$63,680
Rhode Island$64,030
South Carolina$54,280
South Dakota$44,590
Tennessee$52,140
Texas$60,470
Utah$53,120
Vermont$54,030
Virginia$68,060
Washington$65,550
West Virginia$44,610
Wisconsin$55,610
Wyoming$55,910
Guam$55,900
Puerto Rico$37,280
Virgin Islands$51,990

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $78,250.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $78,250
New Jersey - $73,160
Maryland - $70,380
New York - $68,890
District of Columbia - $68,810
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors, OCC Code 21-1012, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a career counselor do?

A career counselor is a professional that can work in college, school, and university or in private practice.

Those who work in schools make sure to help the students choose the career that is best for them and matches their desires and skills.

A professional career counselor also takes into consideration familial and peer pressure, the personality traits of the client, and their underlying drive.

The typical responsibilities of a career counselor usually include thoroughly interviewing the client; assessing the client; applying the information in job searches; providing help in locating the resources for strengthening the skills needed, and so on.

Of course, a career counselor should have impeccable knowledge about the salary rates and the requirements and skills needed to enter any career field.

QuestionHow much do career counselors make?

On average, a career counselor can make a little less than $42.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $36.000 and $61.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the facility you work in, the location and so on.

Career counselors in Illinois, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level career counselor can earn around $17 per hour, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $29.50 and more per hour.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a career counselor?

In most cases, you would need a bachelor’s degree in counseling, education, social work, psychology or any other related field, in order to become a career counselor.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

To improve job perspectives, you can decide to go for a master’s degree (it will cost you around $30.000 to obtain one).

In case you decide to pass the National Counselor Examination, you would have to pay a $275 examination fee.

QuestionWhat is the demand for career counselors?

Between 2018 and 2028, the career counselor job market is expected to grow by 8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is a little faster than the average for all occupations in the United States.

The growth will certainly depend on the state and local budget and on whether or not the school enrollments will be increasing.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a career counselor?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and 1-2 years to earn a master’s degree.

You can consider seeking an internship during your last year in university to get that on-job experience as the majority of employers prefer the candidates to have at least a few years of counseling experience.

Some states require career counselors to have a license.

You would typically need to have at least a bachelor’s degree to obtain a license, though sometimes a master’s or a Ph.D. is required; moreover, you would have to complete 3.000 hours of post-master’s work.

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