Employment Counselor

Job Duties

Employment counselors provide individuals with counseling related to careers outside of a school setting. Their main duty is assisting people in making appropriate career decisions. They do this by getting to know an individual’s education, training, work history, interests, and skills. They also gauge aptitude and personality traits that fit into certain categories of occupations. They may even coordinate aptitude or achievement tests. Based on this information, employment counselors go through the decision-making process with their clients and help them formulate a direction for their career.

Employment counselors may give advice concerning type of additional education or training the person needs to enter a given career. They also help people learn job search skills so they can locate and apply for jobs on their own. Those who have lost their jobs, are experiencing job stress, or are dealing with other career issues may seek the support of an employment counselor.

Job Skills

Those interested in becoming employment counselors should have a number of desirable traits. They should be interested in counseling and helping people who are experiencing challenging situations. They need to be able to inspire trust and respect in their clients. They should have the ability to work independently without supervision. They also need to be able to adhere to the code of ethics for their counseling certifications and licenses.


In 2002, employment counselors earned a median annual salary of $44,100. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $24,930, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $70,320.

Training and Education

A master’s degree is the most common minimum requirement for employment counselors. This is usually a requirement to be licensed or certified. In some States, counselors who are employed by public agencies are required to have a master’s degree, while some States only require a bachelor’s degree. College courses include study in college student affairs, education, gerontological counseling, marriage and family counseling, substance abuse counseling, rehabilitation counseling, agency or community counseling, clinical mental health counseling, counseling psychology, and career counseling. There are about 176 institutions in the U.S. that have counseling programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Many counselors become voluntarily certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc., earning the credential of “National Certified Counselor.” Voluntary certification is also offered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. Counselors can advance to become supervisors or administrators, or they may move into research, consulting, or college teaching.


In 2002, employment counselors held about 228,000 jobs. A growing number are self-employed.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of employment counselors is expected to increase faster than the average. There are usually fewer graduates of counseling programs each year than there are job openings, resulting in very favorable opportunities. Demand for employment counselors will grow mainly because of the disintegration of the idea that people stay in one job their whole working life. Changes in welfare laws requiring recipients of welfare to work will mean more demand for government employment counselors.