Around the globe, countless definitions, concepts and terminology exist for career counseling - particularly due to cultural and linguistic differences.* This even affects the most central term counseling (or: counselling in British English) which is often substituted with the word guidance as in career guidance. For example, in the United Kingdom|UK, career counseling would usually be referred to as careers advice or guidance. Due to the widespread reference to both career guidance and career counseling among policy-makers, academics and practitioners around the world, references to career guidance and counselling are becoming common.* Accordingly, this article emphasizes a broad understanding of career counseling which involves a variety of professionals activities commonly associated with career counseling, guidance, coaching, and advise. More specific roles and activities associated with career counseling are explained below.
Related professional activitiesCareer counseling or career guidance includes a wide variety of professional activities which focus on supporting people in dealing with career-related challenges - both preventively and in difficult situations (such as unemployment). Career counselors work with people from various walks of life, such as Adolescence|adolescents seeking to explore career options, experienced professionals contemplating a career change, parents who want to return to the world of work after taking time to raise their child, or people seeking employment. Career counselling is also offered in various settings, including in groups and individually, in person or by means of digital communication.
Several approaches have been undertaken to systemize the variety of professional activities related to career guidance and counseling. In the most recent attempt, the Network for Innovation in Career Guidance and Counselling in Europe (NICE) - a consortium of 45 European institutions of higher education in the field of career counseling - has agreed on a system of professional roles for guidance counselors. Each of these five roles is seen as an important facet of the career guidance and counselling profession. Career counselors performing in any of these roles are expected to behave professionally, e.g. by following ethical standards in their practice. The NICE Professional Roles (NPR) are:*
The description of the NICE Professional Roles (NPR) draws on a variety of prior models to define the central activities and competences of guidance counselors.* The NPR can, therefore, be understood as a state-of-the-art framework which includes all relevant aspects of career counselling. For this reason, other models haven't been included here so far. Models which are reflected in the NPR include:
BenefitsProfessional career counselors can support people with career-related challenges in many ways (see above). Through their expertise in career development and labor markets, they can put a person's qualification, experience, strengths and weakness in a broad perspective taking into consideration their desired salary, personal hobbies and interests, location, job market and educational possibilities. Through their counselling and teaching abilities, career counselors can additionally support people in gaining a better understanding of what really matters for them personally, how they can plan their careers autonomously, or help them in making tough decisions and getting through times of crisis. Finally, career counselors are often capable of supporting their clients in finding suitable placements/ jobs, in working out conflicts with their employers, or finding the support of other helpful services.
It is due to these various benefits of career counseling that policy-makers in many countries of the world publicly fund guidance services. For example, the European Union understands career guidance and counseling as an instrument to effectively combat social exclusion and increase citizens' employability.*
HistoryFrank Parson's Choosing a Vocation (1909) was perhaps the first major work which is concerned with careers guidance. While until the 1970s a strongly normative approach was characteristic for theories (e.g. of Donald E. Super's life-span approach) and practice of career counseling (e.g. concept of matching), new models have their starting point in the individual needs and transferable skills of the clients while managing biographical breaks and discontinuities. Career development is no longer viewed as a linear process. More consideration is now placed on nonlinear, chance and unplanned influences.
TrainingUp until now there is no standardized qualification path for professional career counselors, although various certificates are offered nationally and internationally (e.g. by professional associations), and the number of academic degree programs in career guidance and/or career counseling is growing worldwide. Still, in most countries, basically anybody could call themselves a "career counselor" (unlike engineers or psychologists whose professions are protected legally). At the same time, policy makers agree that the competence of career counselors is one of the most important factors in ensuring that people receive high quality support in dealing with their career questions.* Depending on the country of their education, career counselors may have a variety of academic backgrounds: In Europe, for instance, degrees in (vocational/ industrial/ organization) psychology and educational sciences are among the most common, but backgrounds in sociology, public administration and other sciences are also frequent.* At the same time, many training programs for career counselors are becoming increasingly multidisciplinary.
Professional career guidance centresThere are many career guidance and counseling centres all over the world. They give services of guidance and counseling on higher studies, possibilities, chances and nature of courses and institutes. Also that these services are offered either fixing up a meeting with the Experts or having telephonic conversations with the guide or even the online guidance which is very common these days with the people getting services on click of their mouse. There are many such service providers all over the world providing online counseling to people about their career or conducting a psychometric test to know the persons aptitude as well as interests.
Career testingPeople who participate in career counseling can benefit from the use of aptitude tests, or career testing. Career testing is often done online and provides insightful and relatively objective information about which jobs may be suitable for the test taker based on combination of their interests, values and skills. Career tests usually provide a list of recommended jobs that match the test takers attributes with those of people with similar personalities who enjoy/are successful at their jobs. There are various ways to test an individual for which field he is suitable, psychometric testing being one among them.
Psychometric testing covers a wide range of skills, interests and values of people and can be of use in career counseling in different ways. For example, the information won from such tests can be of help for the professionals who mentor, coach or counsel individuals. With psychometric testing, there is no pass or fail, but the quality of the information won from the tests can vary. Psychometric testing uses in-depth psychological profiles to assess personality and intellectual levels. Different test companies use different theoretical approaches to testing, such as the psychometric approach, the psychodynamic approach, the social learning approach and the humanist approach. Different test companies have their own methods of testing, some of them being protected with copyrights. Two commonly used assessments are the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator|MBTI, for example. Usually, psychometric testing uses multiple sets of questions relating to personality type, how the test taker would handle aspects of work and home life, what his or her goals are for the future and his or her strengths and weaknesses. If the test taker is honest and the employed tests follow scientific standards, the results should be fairly accurate and useful for career counseling activities.