Become a Career Counsellor with CareersIgnite.com

If you do a roundup of all the famous people today who become celebrities either through TV, films, Twitter, YouTube or blogs, you would find people from an amazingly wide array of professions. Celebrities such as the AIB stars or authors such as Devdutt Pattanaik and Amish Tripathi have become famous in fields that were largely unknown to Indian context as successful career choices. They are not engineers or doctors or lawyers; professions that most Indian parents are obsessed with. They are famous comedians, critics, and authors in fields such as Indian mythology.

This only goes to show that the career landscape is undergoing a paradigm shift in India. Hospital management, MBA in tourism management, urban planning, climate change research, social media management, and so on, are now trending on the career charts, with a hashtag that screams change. In the same breath, career counselling is also emerging as one of the top professions, quite naturally among teachers and educators. It is boosted by the fact that most national and international curricula have mandated schools to have at least one career counsellor for their students. So this is now a career that is involved in guiding students to build their own careers.

However, that is not the only reason why this career finds so much resonance among teachers and parents today. According to statistics, while 86 per cent of students are very concerned about which option to choose for higher education, 92 per cent of them don’t get any career-related guidance from their schools. How do students find the right information from the babble of data that comes their way through the Internet? How will parents know what is right for their children?Unfortunately, there are few guiding posts for talented students who can become the future flag-bearers of a skilled India. In other words, there is a serious dearth of guidance counsellors, compared to the number of students. There are only 500 counsellors for about 1.5 million students! Compare this to the U.S. which has about 2.6 million counsellors for 1,80,000 students. The good news is that plugging this yawning gap is not difficult because the job growth curve in this field is equally steep. There are more than 20,000 jobs out there because employers are searching for counsellors both inside and outside of schools.

All teachers need is the will to get into this space and tap the potential. They could be aspiring teachers, established teachers looking for growth, graduate students looking to start their teaching journey or just adults wanting to do something significant in the education space. The remuneration in this field is high because of the high demand, and the growth is steady. But, in order to excel in this area, one needs some inherent skills of counselling such as patience, willingness to listen and good communication skills. Apart from this, subject knowledge, information about the various national and international curricula, traditional and emerging courses, job trends, application processes for studying abroad, courses and their roadmaps in different countries, and so on, are prerequisites for becoming a career counsellor.

So, how does one gain that? There are various certifications provided by some colleges and institutes in India, mainly at the diploma and postgraduate level. For example, the Sarojini Naidu Government Girls Post Graduate College in Bhopal offers a postgraduate degree in guidance and counselling. The same degree is also offered by the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) in New Delhi. Additionally, for the first time in India, an online course in global career counselling is being offered by the University of California, Los Angeles (Extension), and Univariety. While UCLA (Extension) is the continuing education wing of UCLA, Univariety is Asia’s largest career counselling company, offering guidance to over 1,00,000 students. The programme is called Global Career Counsellor (Green Belt Certification) that is delivered online and is a self-paced course. Spread over 15 modules, the 20+ hour course will be a great addition to the resume.

A professional certificate in career counselling combined with years of teaching experience is the perfect recipe for a rewarding career in career counselling.

Career Definition for Career Counsellors

Career counsellors help others to recognize their talents and identify their goals while working towards careers. Career counsellors can work with community-based or government agencies, businesses, colleges or universities, or private practices. Career counsellors assist their clients, who often include recent college graduates and other unemployed adults, with exploring career options and searching and applying for jobs. They help with education plans and arrange for tests or licensing. Career counsellors also evaluate their clients’ training and expertise and teach them how to balance work and family.

Education Graduate degree in counselling or graduate certificate in career counselling
Job Duties Help clients explore career options, search and apply for jobs, create education plans, arrange for tests or licensing, and balance work and family life
Median Salary (2015)* $53,660 (all educational, guidance, school, and vocational counsellors)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% (all career and school counsellors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

In most instances, a prospective career counsellor may begin his or her education with a bachelor’s degree in any field; however, some master’s programs require a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related discipline. The next step is earning at least a master’s degree in counseling with an emphasis in career counselling. If a student already has a master’s degree, he or she may be able to enroll in a graduate certificate program in career counselling. Typical courses in a career counselling program include career and job searches, group counselling, counselling theory, and career development.

Licensure Requirements

Licensure requirements for career counsellors vary by state and type of employment, although it’s common for career counsellors in private practice to need a license. Requirements generally include a master’s degree and a minimum amount of work experience, plus an exam.

Skills Required

Career counsellors should have a passion for helping others and must be able to work with people of all races, ages, and cultural backgrounds. They must be ethical, trustworthy, and able to inspire confidence in their clients. Career counsellors also must be able to separate their work and personal lives to minimize stress.

Career and Economic Outlook

Demand for school and career counsellors in general is expected to grow, with positions predicted to increase by 8% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual salary for an educational, guidance, school, or vocational counsellor in 2015 was $53,660, according to BLS figures.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options in this field include:

Social Worker

Social workers help people who are having problems, whether they’re employment-, personal-, family-, or health-related. They sit down and talk with clients to identify issues and the steps required for meeting goals (like getting a job) or adjusting to new situations (like a divorce). Social workers who meet education and licensing requirements may also treat clients in private practice that may be experiencing behavioral, emotional, or mental problems. Social workers with a bachelor’s degree can get an entry-level, direct service job; in some cases, state licensing is required. Those who want to work in clinical practice as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) need a master’s degree, work experience, and a state license.

Social workers in general can expect job growth of 12% from 2014-2024, as per the BLS. Child, school, and family social workers earned median pay of $42,350 in 2015, as per the BLS, while mental health and substance abuse social workers earned median pay of $42,170, and healthcare social workers earned $52,380 that same year.

High School Teacher

High school teachers typically offer subject-specific instructions to students in the upper grades of 9-12. They create and deliver lessons; develop assignments; administer exams; assign reports for students to complete; grade papers; confer with students, parents, and other teachers regarding student progress as needed; and help students prepare for life after high school, whether that includes college or employment.

High school teachers are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in the subject they want to teach and a state teaching license, which usually requires passing a series of exams; private school teachers may be exempted from this. Teachers are sometimes also required to eventually earn a master’s degree, depending on the state. The BLS predicts that jobs for high school teachers are expected to grow 6% from 2014-2024. High school teachers (not counting those who taught vocational or special education students) earned median pay of $57,200 in 2015, as per the BLS.