While many people don’t think about finding a job in school and career guidance when they first start looking at possible career options, these workers form an important network of counsellors that prevent students from dropping out of school, decreasing the unemployment rate in society as well as helping families dealing with difficult situations. While some can argue that the job market is, currently, in need of some invigoration - career planning and emotional support are important social tools in any season of the economy. If you’re interested in performing tasks that the psychological and career counsellor do daily, from offering career exploration tools to working with at-risk students - you may want to start looking for jobs in psychological or career development. From what qualities you should acquire before working in the field to what kind of courses you should take in order to start providing psychology and career services, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about becoming a counsellor in the UK.

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Choosing a career in counselling doesn't have to be stressful - don't be afraid to explore

What are the Qualities You Need for Being a School or Career Development Professional?

Being a school or career counsellor will require many personal and professional skills that will enable you to be a great educational or career advisor. From helping young adults with difficult family life situations to providing career management or vocational information, here are some of the qualities you’ll need to master in order to become an effective counsellor.

Educational Psychology

People working in educational psychology are more commonly referred to as counsellors or school psychologists. This career path will involve providing emotional and behavioural support to children and young adults within the UK school system. This means that you can either work in the public or private sector, acting as an off-site or on-site psychologist. Because you will be working with children and young adults, you will have to have many skills including:

  • Deep understanding of the UK health insurance system
  • Organizational skills to keep track of appointments with clients
  • Excellent communication skills

Career Counselling

While working in a career centre will involve many of the same skills required as someone working in psychological counselling, the two jobs are very distinct. As an advisor for career help, whether that be with students or with job seekers, you will be in charge of anything from performing a career assessment with your client, helping a student draft a resume and cover letter, act as a career coach for a large company and help employees create a career plan or run career fairs. Because this field will involve helping people set up their career goals, running an online career help platform, aiding in career change transitions or participating in an annual career fair for your company - there are many organizational and professional skills you’ll need to perfect in order to be an effective counsellor. Some of the skills you’ll need in this profession are:

  • Creating career resources offering career advice or tips for job interviews
  • Have a deep understanding of cover letters, interview skills and job search strategies
  • Be familiarized with career pathways and job opportunities possible after graduation
  • Excellent organizational and written skills

Whether you’re just starting your new career as a professional school counsellor or are still looking into what the job market and world of work will be like as a career guide, gaining an understanding of the education system in the UK will be vital. Whether that be because you will be participating in job fairs at universities or because you will have to know specific education requirements in many different fields, having a grasp on the school system in the UK will enable you to better help your clients.

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Counselling can involve helping students find de-stress practices

Where to Get a Job in Psychological or Career Advising

Career opportunities in the world of school and career counsellors are countless and this is because the profession offers many different career paths. If you’re looking for employment opportunities in the field of counselling, start by learning the difference between school and career counsellors. Occupations involved in providing emotional counselling to assist students suffering from mental illnesses, difficult family situations or who need behavioural changes can be done by becoming a psychologist that offers their services specifically to schools and universities. One of the advantages of taking this career choice is that you will be able to make a positive impact on the community while getting to take a job related to your studies or specializations. Becoming a professional in the field will typically involve a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree in educational psychology as well as a long-term, postsecondary training program. Becoming a student counsellor, but not a psychologist, is also possible by becoming involved in administrative work for universities and schools. Not only will you be able to help young adults explore what career options will be available to them after graduation, but you can also be in charge of helping students find jobs and internships. Finding a job as a school counsellor means that you will be charged with ensuring student success through student employment. Because you will be working with young adults, having some knowledge in child psychology will give you a major advantage over other possible candidates in the field. On the other hand, becoming a professional career consultant will mean that you will have to perform career assessments, update online job forums or job postings, aid adults switching career fields or on their internship search and providing services that will help the interview process, like conducting a mock interview or discussion. Finding work in this field can be done through either the public or private sector. You can work with a company that specializes as a development centre, start your own career information business or in a Further Education college. In this field, industry experience will be prized over everything. Attaining a mastery or having a deep passion for a specific field will be an impressive quality for future employers. Keep in mind that there are many other jobs you can get working as a counsellor that can be found in both the private and public sectors. Whether you’re interested in providing career or student services, you will be able to search in an extremely diverse job market.

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Career counselling can be a fun, life-long learning process

Education Requirements to Become a School Counsellor or Career Coach

Now that you understand the role of the school and career counsellor as well as the kinds of jobs you’ll be able to get in this field, it may be helpful to know what kind of qualifications will enable you to get a job in the field. Education requirements differ greatly between these two occupations so here’s a brief summary of everything you need to know about what kind of educational requirements are found in the counselling business.

School Counsellor

If you’re interested in providing student resources through psychological counselling, you will need to follow a more traditional education route. While scoring the best you can on your A-levels will definitely make you stand out as an undergraduate applicant, the most important move you will make will be completing a bachelor’s degree. This degree should be in psychology, educational psychology or other specializations of the field. After graduating, however, you may need to take a postsecondary training course in educational psychology that will provide you with the real-world experience you’ll need to be an effective school psychologist.

Career Advisor

Whether you’re working in a college career centre or are in a private career consulting firm, the educational requirements in this field will differ depending on what your career interest is. In general, people who want to provide student services, in-person or online resources for careers will need to have a high school diploma. Job experience will be your best tool if you’re looking to be a career guide, so having previous work experience in related fields can boost your chance for getting a job than having any specific degree. However, if you want to work as an “industry professional” who gives advice to those just starting out in the field you’ve mastered, you’ll obviously need the academic and professional skill set to show your competency in the field. For example, those who want to work in a Further Education institution training adults in skills they didn’t get in their school or previous jobs will have to get either a teaching qualification or have enough experience in the field in order to be able to teach it to others.

Career Guidance Professional: How to Get Accredited

While having walk-in hours, understanding the intricacies of a job interview or knowing what a Myers Briggs assessment is are all parts of being a great counsellor, getting accredited can be one of the best things you do for your career. Accreditation is when you are recognized by an organization for being a professional in your specific counselling field. If you’re interested in learning more about accreditation, check out this guide.

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