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What It Takes to Be a Career Counselor

With the right skills and credentials, you can help others find the right career.

At some point in our lives, the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” becomes “What do you do for a living?” Unfortunately, for many, the career they end up in is not the career they really want. Some don’t even know what career might be best for them. They just know they want a different job than the one they have now. They’re not alone. In the U.S., roughly two-thirds of Americans feel no real connection to their job.1 Fortunately, career counselors can help. As a focus area within the mental health counseling field, career counseling provides guidance to people who are struggling to enter the career they want or who are dissatisfied in the career they currently have.

Career counseling and school counseling have a number of similarities and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, school and career counselors can expect to see an 8% growth in their field between 2018 and 2028.

What It Takes to Be a Career Counselor

Career counseling can be a very rewarding job. If you want to become one, here’s what it takes:


The top skill for anyone engaged in any type of counseling is empathy. Typically, your clients will come to you in a state of vulnerability. They may feel lost, confused, angry, despondent, ashamed, or any other negative emotion. Working with people who aren’t in the best emotional place requires making a real connection. And that requires showing plenty of compassion and understanding.


Many clients seeking career counseling aren’t well-versed in the skills of job hunting. Many others have no clue as to what kind of career they want. It takes time to teach people new skills and/or get them to identify a career they can be excited about. In order to provide the guidance these clients need, you’ll have to keep your cool and remain patient.


As a career counselor, you’ll likely have clients from all walks of life. Some, or even many, of these clients may have values and lifestyles different from your own. But your job isn’t to mold them into someone else. Your job is to help them enter the career that’s right for them. You can only do that if you approach your clients with tolerance.


Whether you’re working for a career counseling organization or in private practice, helping people with their careers requires staying up to date on the job market, job fairs, recruiters, career requirements, and more. In other words, in order to make sure you’re giving your clients the best advice and directing them toward the best resources, you have to remain organized. In career counseling, disorder can lead to disaster.


People tend to hear what they want to hear. That’s why it’s essential all counselors know how to communicate clearly. To provide useful guidance to your clients, you have to make sure they understand exactly what it will take to enter any given career or land any specific job. You don’t want clients to be confused about the path they need to take or think the path is easier than it will be. By communicating clearly, you can help your clients avoid future problems.


You will have clients who never get the job or career they want. To be successful, you must understand the realities of failure. And you must strive not to over-promise or allow arrogance to dampen your work ethic. That doesn’t mean you can’t proceed with confidence; but it does mean you need to keep yourself grounded, both for the sake of your clients and your own well-being.

A Counseling Degree

One of the best ways to put yourself in a position to become a career counselor is to earn an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. And one of the best ways to earn your master’s in counseling is through an online education program. You may also want to consider the fact that many of the qualities found in good career counselors are found in good school counselors. Walden University offers a MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling degree. Upon successful graduation, you will have earned two degrees from an accredited program and be able to pursue licensure or certification as both a mental health counselor and a school counselor.

When you enroll in an online MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, you won’t have to worry about living close to campus or even driving to class. Instead, an online counseling degree program lets you complete the majority of your coursework from home. Plus, an online university gives you the advantage of a flexible schedule, allowing you to attend class at whatever time of day works best for you.

People all over the country need good career counselors. Thanks to the benefits of online learning, you can earn your master’s in counseling and enter a career helping others with their careers.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,