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What does an Employment Counselor do?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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An employment counselor provides people with advice and assistance which is designed to empower them to make wise career choices. Employment counselors work in a number of environments, including high schools and colleges, employment agencies, and agencies which provide social services. Employment in this field is open to people with varying levels of training, depending on where someone wishes to work, and professional employment counselors are often encouraged to pursue certification from a professional organization.

Employment counselors may work with individuals to provide one on one assistance, or with groups, providing more generalized advice. They talk to people to find out where their skills and talents lie, and to learn more about their goals. For example, someone might have mechanical aptitude which could pave the way for a career in engineering, or someone might want to be a doctor. In either case, the employment counselor can provide suggestions about how someone might achieve employment in a particular field.

Counseling can include the administration of aptitude tests which are designed to help the employment counselor collect information about clients, along with frank discussions which can sometimes be uncomfortable, as the counselor may need to tell someone that a goal is not realistic or achievable. Employment counselors help their clients set goals, and show them what they need to do in order to enter particular careers, whether it's as simple as applying for an open position, or as complex as attending a university and passing professional examinations.

Some employment counselors work with agencies which offer job placement, identifying potential careers for their clients and setting them off in the right direction. Others may give clients the tools and allow them to conduct job searches on their own. In high schools and colleges, employment counselors are more commonly known as vocational counselors or career counselors, and they provide general advice for students which will help them decide which classes to take, while counselors at placement agencies and social services organizations may be more focused on finding immediate employment for their clients.

Whether someone is seeking a job, starting out on a new career, or thinking about changing careers, it can be a good idea to see an employment counselor. The counselor can help prepare a resume, identify areas of professional weakness, and provide coaching and encouragement to help people push forward, even when they are frustrated or confused. Working with an employment counselor is sometimes required for people on public assistance, as a good faith demonstration of intent to find employment.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By icecream17 — On May 20, 2011

@Oasis11 - I agree and I think that having these career tests as a part of the college orientation process could really help the incoming freshmen narrow down their choice of majors.

The first two years are usually general requirements anyway, so it gives these students a chance to consider what career path that want to take.

I know a lot of people that go to college and get a degree in one area only to find out that they actually prefer to do something else. I think that if you go back to school for another degree it can get expensive.

By oasis11 — On May 18, 2011

I think that an employment counselor job would be a really rewarding job because you help people find work that is suitable for their talents.

I used to work in the staffing field as a recruiter and I really enjoyed being able to find work for people. Most people were so grateful that it made me feel good when I was able to help.

I know that working as a career counselor is a little different because they often do screening tests to determine areas of strengths and potential career paths for people instead of finding them a specific job.

It is really hard to know which jobs you are most suited for because there are so many to choose from.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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