Career Counseling: An In-Demand Profession

by Betty McWillie

As Career Counselors, we have always understood the value of our profession and the difference it makes in people's lives. This occurs when workers realize their gifts and talents, and have the opportunity to apply them in a chosen profession. In today's dynamic, ever-changing, sometimes-chaotic workforce, workers are more and more often seeking change and self-actualization. People are realizing that work will be ongoing for the rest of their lives, in one form or another. They are seeking new alternatives, and part of that quest is to find a qualified, experienced, and credentialed career counselor to help them chart their path to the future.


How do potential clients find qualified career practitioners?


Most clients will search on-line instead of looking at print advertising. Others may find us by word of mouth, but often searches take clients to the NCDA website. This has become a valuable tool for our profession, so that the public understands what we do, and can find credentialed, ethical, and accomplished career counselors, governed by an organization that ensures credibility. Clients can easily obtain the names and emails of counselors by clicking on the Find a Counselor search feature on the website.


What sets us apart from other trainers and career coaches, that makes our services the most valuable and effective?


The education and training sets us apart from trainers and career coaches. Today, certifications are available from a variety of sources. Three to four day seminars on career coaching, career transition, and other related topics are offered, but no continuing education is required, and degree levels vary. Most coaches cannot give formal assessments; they lack training in counseling techniques, and a full understanding of the career development model with applications of theories and research.


What should clients expect from us?


Today, we have a more informed workforce, and most individuals have higher expectations for career counselors. It seems that only in the past few years has there been an increase in people seeking and hiring career counselors. As recently as 1998, we were still a relatively unknown group, and even more, there was a lack of understanding about the services we provide and their outcomes. Dan Rather, in that same year on "60 Minutes", reported that there was a new profession, called "outplacement", and explained the overall concept. That was a major step for us as well, because it introduced the concept that professionals are available to deal with job loss, career transition, and career direction.


Has there been a change in the general population's usage of career counselors?


There appears to be an upward trend in the use of career counselors. Have any of you noticed an increasing demand for your services? Three career counselors I interviewed all reported a rise in the number of clients seen over the last two years. In my own practice, I have experienced an increase in clients of 30% to 40% in the last year. Most have expectations and express their preference for working with a certified, credentialed counselor, as they want more than just assistance in their job search. They seek in-depth assessments that provide them with formal and informal testing, first and foremost, to discover what they do best and to take that knowledge with strategic direction to discover their vocation, and where and how to apply those gifts in a new profession. As simple as this may sound, it is a complex process that involves an understanding that career development requires the expertise that only a licensed career counselor can provide.


What is the professional association for career counselors?


The National Career Development Association (NCDA) is the official organization for career counselors. The NCDA offers Special Membership Categories to recognize members who hold special levels of achievement in education, training, and experience in career development. Three special membership categories include:

      1) The Master Career Counselor (MCC) is an NCDA member who holds a master's degree in counseling or a related field and has been active as an NCDA member for a minimum of two years. A MCC has at least three years of post-master's experience in career counseling and maintains the NCC, state LPCC, RPCC, or licensed psychologist credential. MCCs are skilled in the administering and interpreting career assessments and provide the highest quality of career counseling services.

      2) The Master Career Development Professional (MCDP) is an NCDA member who holds a master's degree or higher in counseling or a related field and also has been active as an NCDA member for a minimum of two years. The MCDP has at least three years of post-master's career development experience in training, teaching, program development, or materials development.

    3) The Fellow is an NCDA member of professional distinction. A Fellow designation recognizesoutstanding and substantial contributions to career development in science, teaching and training, practice, service, policy development, and political action. It is considered an honor to be awarded this distinction and only five recipients are chosen by NCDA each year.

So, all of you Career Counselors out there, get ready! You are in demand by people who value your expertise, and will be knocking on your door soon, to receive the assistance and support that they can only get from someone with your specialized skills. It will be exciting to see what the future will bring.

Betty McWillie,
is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over twenty five years of professional experience as a professional counselor, career counselor, lecturer, consultant, Career Center Director and owner of Career Directions, a Career Development Firm located in Memphis, Tennessee.

She has achieved the title of Master Career Counselor as recognized by the National Career Development Association. and is a Certified Career Development Facilitator Trainer.

Betty is certified by the National Board of Certified Counselors as a Professional Counselor and Career Counselor. She holds a Masters Degree from the University of Memphis in Counseling and Personnel Services.

She can be reached at

Email: mcwillie@cbu.edu

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