Though the history of career counseling in the United States dates back to the turn of the century and founding of National Career Development Association (formerly NVGA) in 1913, it is recent history that has given formal standards to the profession of career counseling. In 1980, the National Career Development Association established a committee for the pre-service and in-service training of vocational guidance personnel. Based on several professional studies the training committee developed a list of competencies necessary for persons who planned to perform career/vocational counseling. The NCDA in 1984 established its national credentialing process. At the same time, negotiations were entered with the National Board for Certified Counselors to assume responsibility for the credentialing of professional career counselors. The National Board for Certified Counselors now certifies professional career counselors to work in both public agencies and in the private sector.
Furthermore, in a counseling job, a professionally certified guidance counselor for instance, leads people to come up with their own decisions. The counselor may give different options and choices, yet the counselee himself needs to do his part, exercise his freewill and choice to make a decision. In this way, the client feels the sense of responsibility of his actions and choice. The counseling approach has the emphasis to answer the most prevalent needs of the client, his needs, drives, and plans of life. In fact, a client may also take a personality test and other personal evaluation such as a career choice test as well as his interests. Other kind of tests that may be administered to the client is his ability and potential to perform a certain task in coherence with his passion and talents. The career counselor sees to it that the client knows his real goal in life, and that his actions of the present will determine his future success.
To perform effectively career counselors must be competent in general counseling. They must have skills in building good relationships and the ability to use counseling techniques in assisting individuals with career choice and life career plans. Career counselors must have knowledge of education, training, employment trends, labor market, and career resources that provide information about job tasks, functions, salaries, requirements, and future outlooks related to broad occupational fields.
In addition, counselors must have information related to career development and decision making, and knowledge of the changing roles of men and women and the linking of work, family, and leisure. Competencies in individual and group assessment skills are essential. Knowledge of testing techniques and measures of aptitude, achievement, interest, values and personality is required. The ability to evaluate job performance and individual effectiveness is helpful. The career counselor must also have management and administrative skills. Lastly, career counselors must have the ability to provide effective career consultation to influential individuals, such as parents, teachers, employers, community groups, and the general public.
The minimum educational program in career/ vocational counseling is an earned graduate degree in counseling or a related professional field from a regionally accredited higher education institution and a completed supervised counseling experience, which includes career counseling. A growing number of institutions offer post-master’s degree training in career development and career counseling. Such programs are highly recommended for persons with a master’s degree in counseling who wish to specialize in vocational / career counseling. These programs are frequently called “Advanced Graduate Specialist Programs” or “Certificates of Advanced Study Program.”
Those who wish to become a national certified career counselor must be a nationally certified counselor in addition to holding an earned graduate degree in counseling or a related professional field. Additionally, candidates for certification must have supervised counseling experience, which includes career counseling. Such counselors must also acquire a minimum of three years of full-time career development work experience. Further, one must obtain written endorsements of competence in career counseling from a work supervisor or a professional colleague and successfully complete a knowledge-based certification examination.
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