Vocational Counselor Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for vocational counselors. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, salary and job outlook 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 Vocational Counselor?

A vocational counselor is a counselor who specializes in helping individuals make career choices and secure jobs. In order to help clients choose careers, they may consult with them about their education, work history, marketable skills and personal interests. They may also administer aptitude tests that generate lists of careers that the client might be interested in. From there, vocational counselors help people prepare their resume and search for jobs. They may also help them improve their interviewing and networking skills.

The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as a vocational counselor.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Career counseling, counseling
Key Skills Oral and written communication, public relations, public speaking
Licensure Some employers prefer licensed counselors
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% (for all educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors)*
Median Salary (May 2015) $41,313**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Vocational Counselors

Vocational counselors work with government agencies, college and university career centers and job placement services. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that approximately 273,400 people worked as educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors in 2014, and employment was projected to rise 8% by 2024 (www.bls.gov).

Job Duties

Helping clients find new jobs or transition into careers is your primary objective. Other goals may include helping clients earn a promotion or navigate difficult relationships in their current workplace.

Career assistance encompasses a range of activities, such as conducting personal interviews and assessment tests, developing contacts, networking, implementing job hunting strategies, polishing resumes and honing job interviewing skills. Clients may also request your help with business start-ups. In addition, you will collaborate with local businesses, community organizations and governments to develop leads or coordinate programs that match prospective employees with employers.

Salary

PayScale.com reported that as of January 2017, vocational counselors in the 10th-90th percentile earned $27,164-$50,479 per year. The BLS stated that educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors earned a median salary of $53,660 in May 2015. Counselors in the 10th-90th percentile earned $32,280-$87,640 per year, according to the BLS.

Experience, Training and Skills

Prior experience in human resources management, recruiting and interviewing are relevant in vocational counseling. You will also benefit from knowledge of business operations and the goals and objectives of different types of organizations. Effective oral and written communication, public relations and public speaking skills are helpful in the field as well.

Degree Programs

Although vocational counseling doesn't require a specific degree, a number of U.S. schools offer 2-year master's degree programs in career counseling or in counseling with a career specialization. Most have a core set of courses that address general counseling theory and practice. Courses specific to career counseling include life cycle development, skills assessment, career research and personality profiling. Internships and field experience courses are also a common feature. Some programs require you to write a thesis.

The National Career Development Association offers three certification options for career counselors (www.associationdatabase.com). The Master Career Development Professional requires membership in the association, a master's degree in counseling and three years of career development experience.

For the Master Career Counselor certification, you need two years of membership in the association, a master's degree in counseling, three years of career counseling experience, and completion of additional studies in six competency areas. These areas include career development theory, individual and group assessment, individual and group counseling, information resources, diversity and counseling ethics. Counseling Fellow is the most demanding certification and requires five years of association membership, a master's degree, five years of counseling experience, and an ongoing record of notable contributions to the field in terms of research, practice, theory and education.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

One similar career option is a job as a high school counselor. In this position, you serve as an advisor on a wide range of issues. In addition to helping students consider their career options, you could also provide counseling about the college admissions process, classroom behavioral problems, mental health issues and social challenges. For this job, you would need to earn a master's degree and get a license to work in a public school. Alternatively, as a counselor, you could focus your practice in an entirely different area of the field, such as marriage and family therapy. In this occupation, you would help individuals, couples and families navigate relationship problems, mental health issues and other challenges. A master's degree is required for this job as well.

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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