In the UK, people who want to work in school or career development, depending on what type of specialization you’re interested in, need to get accredited by an established body in order to get serious, new career job offers. Whether you’re interested in being a personal career coach for adults, offering course and career exploration paths for students, or offering academic and career management tools and support - there are certain types of recommended vocational training courses and qualifications you should acquire in order to prepare for the counselling job market.
Here are some of the recommendations that have been given by organisations like UCAS, or the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, in order to strengthen your career options as a counsellor.
Courses and Study Paths for Becoming a Counsellor
Whether you’re looking for jobs in the career planning and school guidance industry currently or are simply exploring it as a future career path, you should start by understanding what the differences are between differences are between personal and career services.
People who are searching for career options related to psychology will be interested to understand what different types of educational paths you can follow for this type of career path. If you’re interested in becoming an educational psychologist, this generally means that you will either work in one or several schools or universities as an on-site or off-site psychologist.
The world of work for an educational psychologist generally looks like providing emotional, personal and behavioural support for children and young adults. This can range from anything to aiding a student who has anxiety learn mechanisms to relieve stress or help a student who has a turbulent family situation. Working as a school counsellor generally means that you will have to cooperate with others in the education profession, such as teachers, social workers and sometimes parents.
If you think you would enjoy career pathways related to child psychology, this can be a viable option for you and can be accomplished through a standard higher education model. This means that you should aim to achieve high scores on your A-levels, but should also try and volunteer in psychology-related posts in your community in order to make your university application stand out.
You should strive for, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in psychology or one of the specializations within the discipline, especially if your institution has programs related to children or young adult psychology. While you can also aim for a Master’s, after getting a degree in psychology you should, regardless of the level, try to get postsecondary training in the field. This can include either working in a centre that can assist students and their emotional needs at your university or volunteering in a government organization.
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Student Career Centre and Counselling Programs
If you’re interested in child and young adult psychology but don’t want to necessarily practice as a psychologist, becoming a school and career counsellor for young adults might be the rewarding experience you’ve been searching for. Working in a school as a counsellor will mean that you will be working on the administrative side of things, offering course advice for students while also providing student resources for psychological needs if the need arises.
If career assessment and workshops are more your speed, you can start working in either the public or private sector as a counsellor. The kinds of activities you will be able to participate in will involve a range of topics such as helping students figure out their career goals, participating in a university career fair, giving online career advice for a private company, and offer admissions and career resources to students.
If you’re thinking about embarking on this career plan, you don’t necessarily need to get a bachelor’s degree. Although, holding a university degree will give you an edge in a highly competitive job market. The most important thing you will need is experience, so building up work experience in the field will be able to give you insight on how to come up with creative solutions to problems in real-time.
Career Coaching for Adults
If you’re the person people come to for career advice, you may want to look into career choices involved with becoming a professional career consultant. This occupation will involve helping job seekers and job holders transition into a career change, help people build job search strategies and interview skills, aid in crafting cover letters and resumes as well as helping getting people an appointment with managers for job opportunities.
If you want to consider taking up a job, whether that be an in person or online job, in being a career guide, your education and professional background should look similar to that of someone looking for a job in school counselling. This means, while you don’t strictly have to have attained a bachelor’s degree, it always helps to show your commitment to professional development by getting a specialization in a related field.
Work experience will help you the most in these types of occupations, as is the case with many other posts. This won’t just allow you to understand what a typical resume and cover letter look like for a particular field, but also help you become a master in setting up employment opportunities by understanding a plethora of jobs and internships.
Do You Need a Master's to Find a Job as a Guidance Counsellor?
This is always a tough question to answer, as there are a lot of personal and financial factors to consider after graduation - whether that be graduating high school or from and undergraduate programme. One thing you can do that can give you a better idea of understanding what future employers are looking for is to visit career fairs and job fairs in your area. Asking specific companies whether or not you need a masters to work there will give you the clearest response as to how you should proceed.
As with many career paths, there is no clear-cut answer. However, as mentioned, if you’re interested in working in career fields in psychology and child counselling, you should consider getting a master's or postsecondary training in order to solidify your mastery in the subject.
Career counsellors at firms or universities, however, will most often have less need of a masters. Instead, they will need other types of experience and training in order to ensure adult and student success. One suggested study path can be seen through the example of someone who is interested in further education teaching. The following are two qualifications you can get that will make your employment opportunities much vaster:
- Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training (DET)
- PGCE Secondary
These two qualifications are taught both in universities and through private organizations and both will allow you to work as a further education teacher. The DET, however, can sometimes be earned part-time while you already start work as a further education teacher.
If you already have considerable experience in a specific field, engineering for example, and want to start training others in subjects related to it - you can also start teaching in a further education institution. Employers will sometimes value the expertise you’ve gained throughout the years over the teaching qualifications you’ve attained. In order to start teaching, however, you will have to attain:
- Level 2 (GCSE or alternative) in Maths and English
How to Get Psychological and Career Advising Accreditation
According to professional informational job postings from organizations like the Professional Standards Authority and UCAS, student and career counsellors often move into their career opportunities later in life. While you may love the idea of helping a student with an internship search, updating an online student employment job board or conducting a mock interview with someone to prepare for their interview, counselling is often a career choice people make after building experience in the field.
You might be wondering what career qualifications you’ll need to get in order to perform career assessments, maintain online resources updated or provide student services like psychological support.
Now that you know what kind of secondary and postsecondary education you can follow in order to work in a development centre or as a school psychologist, you should focus on getting accredited. Accreditation is when a body or organization recognizes that you are a qualified professional in your field. This will typically involve one or all of the following:
- Taking a course on the introductory skills and career information of counselling that lasts about 10 to 12 weeks
- Attaining a certificate in counselling which takes about one year
- Achieving a diploma in counselling which requires about 400 hours of study as well as supervised work experience
All of these are typically offered as part-time courses through universities and training centres.
Where to Get Accredited
Whether you’ll be working on the college career orientation path, preparing student resources for a job fair, or want to explore your career interest in helping people draft a career plan and prepare for a job interview - being accredited will play a tremendous role in helping you land a job. Check out the following organizations for both educational psychology and career counselling:
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
- National Counselling Society
- Association of Child Psychotherapists
- Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland
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