What's your dream career? Helping others find theirs? You may find your
calling in a career counseling program.
Career counseling degrees are generally offered as master's or doctoral
programs. A master's program will take you about two or three years. You'll
need at least a master's to get certified and to land a job, in most cases.
There aren't many university programs specifically in career counseling.
In fact, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational
Programs (CACREP) lists only nine accredited programs
in Canada and the U.S.
Graduate degrees in psychology, education or counseling may, however,
give students an opportunity to train in this field. Some related program
options include counseling psychology, educational psychology and school counseling.
Typical courses in a career counseling program include career counseling
theory and practice, and career development in organizational settings.
Other courses might include career counseling for employment equity, approaches
to client change and group process.
"Most graduate programs try to motivate students to love to learn and to
become self-directed," says Richard Feller. He is a professor in Colorado
State University's program in counseling and career development. "When you
are learning what you love, it is rarely hard."
Colorado State's program aims at producing counselors who will be able
to help people develop their self-knowledge, education and occupational exploration,
and career transition skills. It includes a practicum (practical work experience).
Most states require that counselors be licensed or certified after
completing a formal education.
If you're planning on a graduate degree, start taking your academic
work seriously. Selection of students for Colorado State's program, for
example, takes into account past academic performance.
Other factors in the selection process include a student's performance
in the Graduate Record Examination, leadership qualities, experience in helping
relationships and references.
"We look for students with backgrounds in all academic areas with strong
interpersonal skills, good writing and presentation skills," Feller says.
Feller says the more life experience a counselor has, the better.
"We hope [students] have some varied work experience...so they can understand
various fields," says Feller. "Any [activity] which helps you accelerate your
career exploration is good. I wouldn't rule out any activity."
Occupational Outlook HandbookFor more information related to this field of study, see: Counselors
Counseling Resources on the NetCounseling psychology resources
MonsterThis is an online resource center for career changers and job
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