Career Coach: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for career coaches. Get the facts about education requirements, job outlook, salary, and job responsibilities to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Career Coach?

Career coaches, also called career or vocational counselors, provide professional guidance to people who need help in choosing and managing their careers. Career coaches use assessment tools to accurately evaluate their clients' capabilities and interests. They also help enhance their clients' employability skills and improve their chances of succeeding in interviews by mapping out some career goals and action plans to help them enter any career that matches their core skills and interests. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Master's degree
Key Responsibilities Assess client skills, interests, and goals
Increase client interviewing and networking skills
Guide client through workplace conflicts
Certification Programs available, though not always required
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 8% (educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors)*
Average Salary (2015) $56,490 (educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Degrees Are of Benefit to Career Coaches?

You don't need one specific degree or specialized training to become a career coach. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that most career consulting specialists have a college degree (www.bls.gov). Usually, a master's degree in psychology, counseling, human resources management or business administration provides you with sufficient training to give clients career advice.

Human resources management programs examine the hiring, training, compensation, management and motivation of workers. You'll learn how an organization can adapt and direct these basic functions to help attain its objectives. Courses cover management theories and systems, performance appraisal, change management, negotiation and collective bargaining. Bachelor's programs are typically completed in four years and are required to continue into master's studies. A 2-year master's program focuses on research, and you'll usually need to write a thesis on an original topic in human resource management.

The broad aim of Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs is to enhance your capacity for leadership whether you are an established business professional or have just earned your bachelor's degree. Programs hone your skills in finance, accounting, operations management, marketing, strategy and other areas fundamentally necessary to a business organization. Many offer concentrations in particular areas, such as leadership or finance, or allow you to design your own specialization.

What Certification Options Are Available?

Many organizations, such as the Career Planning and Adult Development Network or the International Coach Federation (ICF), offer career coaching certifications. To be eligible for certification, organizations might require you to complete a proprietary training program, pass a comprehensive examination or submit proof of experience. Credentialing programs range in length from a few days to several months. In most instances, you'll need to become a member of the organization.

The type of credential you can earn also varies based on the professional association you join. Organizations, such as the ICF, offer multiple designations based on your experience level. To maintain your certification, you might need to complete continuing education, provide proof of mentoring experience or participate in organizational workshops.

How Do I Start?

As a career coach, the BLS stated that you'll usually be self-employed, which means you'll either do business out of a home office or from an office space that you rent. Professional associations, such as the National Career Development Association or the Career Counselors Consortium, list their members on promotional materials and websites, allowing you to tap into an established client base. You could also find positions within employment service organizations or consulting firms.

You'll help people find careers that make maximum use of their skills and are as closely aligned with their core interests as possible. Your work will consist of conducting extensive interviews with a client, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, enumerating career goals and developing a plan of action. Honing a client's interviewing skills, assisting with research into potential employers, providing networking contacts and advising them on how to advance an existing career or start their own business are other areas where you're likely to provide assistance.

What Salary Could I Earn?

Generally, your salary will depend on your reputation and how many clients you serve. According to the BLS in May 2015, vocational counselors earned a median salary of $53,660. The middle half of professionals in this field earned between $41,120 and $69,680 during the same period. Individuals working for insurance carriers had the highest yearly salary at about $71,420 per year on average.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Other jobs that you may pursue include human resources specialists, kindergarten and elementary school teachers and social and community service managers. As a human resource specialist, you will recruit and hire qualified job applicants for specific jobs. You can also be a kindergarten or elementary school teacher who is responsible for introducing young school children to learning by teaching them fundamental subjects such as math and reading. You can also be a social and community service manager, who is typically in charge of planning and organizing social service programs for the benefit of a local community. All of these career options require a bachelor's degree, although employers prefer social and community managers with master's degrees.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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