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Careers Counsellor

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2018: 5,001 to 10,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $1001 to $1200 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2014
Brief Those who have difficulty in finding their ideal career may seek the services of a Careers Counsellor.

There are currently around 1,300 Careers Counsellors employed in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the are Health and Community Services and Education industries. Most persons in this occupation are females with majority of careers counsellors aged between 45 – 54 years.

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Careers counsellors assist people to clarify their career options and help put them on the right path to their chosen career. Increasingly, they act as a link between current or potential job seekers and employers or employment related organisations such as recruitment agencies.

Career counsellors see students for a range of reasons. Some may be undertaking a generalist degree and be unsure of what area to specialise in, or they may start out in University thinking that they want to follow a certain career path, but decide to change their direction as their education broadens. Every student's concern is unique but the goal is to assist them with their career decisions

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Education Requirements

Of those currently employed there are 49% who have Bachelor Degrees, 15% who have Advanced Diplomas or Diplomas, 14% have either an Advanced Diploma or a Diploma, 8% have Postgraduate Degrees and 12% have no post school qualifications.

TAFE SA offer the following courses that may assist you gaining employment in this occupation: Certificate IV in Career Development and Diploma of Employment Services.

Career Path

Although careers counsellors are employed in some private recruitment agencies, there are employment opportunities to work in schools and in the public sector such as within TAFE SA. It seems that careers counselling is an emerging occupation. More people will become employed in the role as more schools and other agencies realise the importance of providing people with the correct careers advice. Currently however, this is a small sized occupation. While job turnover is low, there are some replacement opportunities as careers counsellors move into other occupations such as human resources development, staff development services, or can even set up their own careers counselling service.




''Careers counselling is one of those professions where you really have to keep up to date with what's going on. That means staying on top of what employers' requirements are and occupational trends,'' says Careers Counsellor, Alexandra. This, Alexandra says, means that she can assist the University's students to make concrete career direction choices. In today's highly competitive work environment, students are generally advantaged if they are clear about what they want to do. For Alexandra to be able to provide credible careers advice, she spends a considerable amount of time in various industries, seeing first hand how different industries function and what is required of people in the workplace. She is then better able to inform students about what will be expected of them in different occupations. She also keeps in regular contact with employers. Fortunately, in an information technology driven world, Alexandra is able to communicate with them via time saving devices, such as e-mail. Most of her time is spent with students, her main priority. ''Students do become career confused. For some this may not hit home until they start studying. Its only then that they realise they really don't like their course for whatever reason, but they often also have little idea of what else they would like to do,'' says Alexandra. So what does Alexandra do if students want to study a particular course but don't have the prerequisites, or demonstrate no real affinity with their chosen course? ''If someone was interested in psychology for instance but they lacked good mathematical ability, then I could suggest a bridging unit to help them cope with the mathematics component of the psychology degree. But if a student truly had little affinity with a course, I would suggest they try a course of study that taps into their attributes, interests and abilities. You'd be amazed at how many students opt for career paths because their parents work in that particular field. ''That's why its imperative for careers counsellors to delve into a student's whole profile, their personality, technical skills and individual interests. ''Every individual is different and its really the only way that you can determine an appropriate fit. ''But careers counsellors can't fix everything single handedly, a fact Alexandra readily acknowledges. ''There may be emotional or psychological issues influencing a student's indecision.''

Nature of the Job

Careers counsellors employed by educational institutions typically meet with the students, either individually or in a group session (more so at secondary level than tertiary), to discuss and assess the student's current situation. Students may approach counsellors themselves, or counsellors may organise a class activity designed to assist the student with their subject choices, for instance. This is an ideal time for both the counsellor and student to cover a lot of territory in the career decision making process. What type of job is the student interested in? What is the best course of study for them to consider? What are the reasons for the student's career choices? Looking at alternatives is another consideration.

Typical Physical Working Environment

Careers counsellors need to demonstrate good interpersonal and group facilitation skills. Occasionally students are unable to express themselves well, so its up to the counsellor to extract the required information. Excellent communication skills are necessary when careers counsellors conduct careers workshops and its important to have a good background knowledge of how the education system works.

Typical Occupational Example

Careers Advisors Tracy and Alexandra both say it is important to examine the student's skills, aptitudes, interests and personality when helping them to decide on a career path. Part of Tracy's role also involves organising work experience for the secondary students and conducting a career education class. ''This is to help familiarise the students with the changing face of the workplace and to examine their post school options. Its essential that the students develop the type of skills that are useful to further study and can be applied in the workplace. These skills include goal setting, time management, an awareness of personal presentation, team and social skills and conflict resolution.''

Tracy says that there's a lot to consider given the changing nature of today's work environment. Not only is it important that students are equipped with skills that will lead to a satisfying career. They need to develop skills which enable them to transfer within or across career paths.

Career counsellors at High Schools are often required to combine their counselling role with a teaching role. At secondary level, Year 10 students may approach careers counsellors for assistance with their subject selection for their final two years at high school. Other students may be considering studying at TAFE SA in which case, careers counsellors can go through the TAFE SA handbook with them. Similarly, options such as the getaccess careers website and the Job Guide can be explored for students wanting to go to university, or TAFE SA. Alexandra helps students address an employer's selection criteria and also assist prospective students with career clarification when choosing courses. She also says that employers rely heavily on careers counsellors to act as conduits between the employer and students. This gives employers an improved chance of finding the most suitable employee, with applicants and new employees having a much better understanding of what's expected of them in various occupations.

Career Development Association of Australia
Phone: 1800 222 390

Earning Potential

The starting annual salary for careers counsellors employed in secondary schools is approximately $30,000 and this may go as high as $40,000. At university level, the range is between $36,000 and $44,000.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online