How to Get Help From a Career Counselor

How to Choose a Career Guidance Professional

two businessmen having discussion

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Whether you're in the process of choosing a career, trying to change careers, re-entering the workforce, job hunting, or recovering from a job loss, you might need some help. Career counselor, career development facilitator, career coach, job coach, and vocational counselor are just a few of the names you might come across as you look for someone to help you with your career.

Key Takeaways

  • Career counselors can help you explore career options and assess your skills
  • Career counselors can help you develop a career plan
  • Look for a credentialed career counselor or career development professional
  • Career counselors can help you if you're interested in pursuing a new career

What Career Counselors Do

A good career development professional can help you explore career options, can inform you of labor market trends, and can assess your skills, interests, and work-related values. A career development professional can help you sharpen your job search skills, and can help you learn how to move up the corporate ladder.

Helping You Get Started

A career counselor can help you figure out what career path you'd like to pursue. They can help you determine what you're most interested in, what your skills are, and what your values are, and use those factors to help guide you. They can also help you determine whether or not you'd like to transition to a different career.

A career counselor will help you find additional resources and sources of career information. Depending or skills, experience, and the career path you're thinking of pursuing, a career counselor may recommend additional job training or education.

How to Choose a Career Counselor

While credentials are not the only thing you should look at, they are a good starting point when you are choosing someone to advise you about your career. Just as you would never consider seeing a doctor who does not have a medical degree, you should never pay someone for career advice unless they have professional credentials.


Not all career counselors are qualified. Make sure your career counselor is credentialed and doesn't overpromise. A career development professional can't guarantee you success.

Once you have determined that the person from whom you are seeking advice has the proper credentials, you must then find out if they are right for you. You'll want to interview any career counselors you're considering working with.

When you're deciding if they're the right fit for you, you'll want to make sure that:

  • They know about the field or fields you're interested in
  • You feel comfortable talking to them
  • Their advice sounds reasonable

Certifications and Credentials

The National Career Development Association

Many career counselors are members of the National Career Development Association. The NCDA offers special membership categories to recognize those who have reached certain professional levels of achievement.

Master Career Counselors, for example, have a minimum of five years of experience and a Masters degree in a related field, or a minimum of seven years of experience and a Bachelor's degree in a related field.

You can find NCDA members listed on their website. Career counselors may also have local licenses from state boards of licensure.

Global Career Development Facilitator

There are many people who provide career guidance but are not professional career counselors. This fact was recognized by several professional groups who banded together to develop the Global Career Development Facilitator (or GCDF) credential.

The credential was launched in the United States in 1997 and was the first credential in the field of career development.

In order to receive the credential, you must abide by a code of ethics and complete a comprehensive training.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does a Career Counselor Help?

A career counselor can help you decide what you want to get out of your career, or what type of career you're interested in. You can discuss your thoughts and concerns about your career and educational choices. They should also be able to help you with next steps once you decide which career you're interested in.

Who Can I Speak to About a Career Change?

If you're trying to break into a new industry, you can speak to a career counselor and they can help you develop a strategy. You can also reach out to an employment agency that hires people in that field, or you can reach out to established professionals in your desired field on LinkedIn and see if they can give you any insight.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. NCDA. "NCDA Career Services Practitioner Comparison Chart."

  2. NCDA. "Search for Career Help."

  3. Center for Credentialing & Education. "Global Career Development Facilitator."

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