Approximately 333,500 school and career counselors are employed in the United States. Career and employment counselors work in guidance offices of high schools, colleges, and universities. They are also employed by state, federal, and other bureaus of employment, and by social service agencies.
Journals specializing in information for career counselors frequently have job listings or information on job hotlines and services. School career services offices also are a good source of information, both because of their standard practice of listing job openings from participating firms and because schools are a likely source of jobs for you as a career counselor. Placement officers will be aware of which schools are looking for applicants.
To enter the field of college career planning and placement, you might consider working for your alma mater as an assistant in the college or university placement office. Other occupational areas that provide an excellent background for college placement work include teaching, business, public relations, previous placement training, positions in employment agencies, and experience in psychological counseling.
Employment counselors in federal or state employment services or in other vocational counseling agencies are usually considered trainees for the first six months of their employment. During this time, they learn the specific skills that will be expected of them during their careers with these agencies. The first year of a new counselor's employment is probationary.
Positions of further responsibility include supervisory or administrative work, which may be attained by counselors after several years of experience on the job. Advancement to administrative positions often means giving up the actual counseling work, which is not an advantage to those who enjoy working with people in need of counseling.
Opportunity for advancement for college counselors—to assistant and associate placement director, director of student personnel services, or similar administrative positions—depends largely on the type of college or university and the size of the staff. In general, a doctorate is preferred and may be necessary for advancement.
New employees in agencies are frequently considered trainees for the first six months to a year of their employment. During the training period, they acquire the specific skills that will be required of them during their tenure with the agency. Frequently, the first year of employment is probationary. After several years' experience on the job, counselors may reach supervisory or administrative positions.
Interview a career or employment counselor at a school, university, business, local community organization, or government organization such as Career One-Stop (https://www.careeronestop.org) about what the counselor does and what education, experience, and other qualifications were necessary to get the job.
Find out how to hone your entrepreneurial and financial skills to succeed as a career and employment counselor in the labor market today by joining either Junior Achievement (elementary through high school students), https://jausa.ja.org, or a business-oriented club at your college or university.
Browse the Web sites of professional associations for ways to better your chances of getting a job as a career and employment counselor.