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Average Salary
$39,060
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
8%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
55,815
Job Openings

Vocational Counselor Careers

Are you someone who is good at listening to others and knows the right questions to ask, or are you good at analyzing ideas and using logic to determine strengths and weaknesses? If you are this kind of person, then working as a vocational counselor might just be the perfect career for you. It is a rewarding job where you can help others match the position that suits them.

Vocational counselors assist clients who are looking for a role that suits their job experience, educational background, qualifications, and potential career aims. They are also known as career counselors or job counselors. They typically interview clients for qualifications and check job listings to match them with open positions. Some vocational counselors are trained in working with disabled individuals and veterans.

To work as a vocational counselor, you must possess a master's degree that focuses on fields like mental health or community counseling. As a pre-requisite for this degree, you must first finish your bachelor's degree in psychology or any other related field. It is important for the person filling this role to have knowledge in measuring skills and personalities.

What Does a Vocational Counselor Do

School counselors help students develop academic and social skills and succeed in school. Career counselors assist people with the process of making career decisions by helping them develop skills or choose a career or educational program.

Duties

School counselors typically do the following:

  • Evaluate students’ abilities and interests through aptitude assessments, interviews, and individual planning
  • Identify issues that impact school performance, such as poor classroom attendance rates
  • Help students understand and overcome social or behavioral problems through classroom guidance lessons and counseling
  • Counsel individuals and small groups on the basis of student and school needs
  • Work with students to develop skills, such as organizational and time management abilities and effective study habits
  • Help students create a plan to achieve academic and career goals
  • Collaborate with teachers, administrators, and parents to help students succeed
  • Teach students and school staff about certain topics, such as bullying, drug abuse, and planning for college or careers after graduation
  • Report possible cases of neglect or abuse and refer students and parents to resources outside the school for additional support

The specific duties of school counselors vary with the ages of their students.

Elementary school counselors focus on helping students develop certain skills, such as those used in decisionmaking and studying, that they need in order to be successful in their social and academic lives. They meet with parents or guardians to discuss their child’s strengths and weaknesses, and any possible special needs and behavioral issues. School counselors also work with teachers and administrators to ensure that the curriculum addresses both the developmental and academic needs of students.

Middle school counselors work with school staff, parents and the community to create a caring, supportive climate and atmosphere for students to achieve academic success. They help the students develop the skills and strategies necessary to succeed academically and socially.

High school counselors advise students in making academic and career plans. Many help students overcome personal issues that interfere with their academic development. They help students choose classes and plan for their lives after graduation. Counselors provide information about choosing and applying for colleges, training programs, financial aid, and internships and apprenticeships. They may present career workshops to help students search and apply for jobs, write résumés, and improve their interviewing skills.

Career counselors typically do the following:

  • Use aptitude and achievement assessments to help clients evaluate their interests, skills, and abilities
  • Evaluate clients’ background, education, and training, to help them develop realistic goals
  • Guide clients through making decisions about their careers, such as choosing a new profession and the type of degree to pursue
  • Help clients learn job search skills, such as interviewing and networking
  • Assist clients in locating and applying for jobs, by teaching them strategies to find openings and how to write a résumé
  • Advise clients on how to resolve problems in the workplace, such as conflicts with bosses or coworkers
  • Help clients select and apply for educational programs, to obtain the necessary degrees, credentials, and skills

Career counselors work with clients at various stages of their careers. Some work in colleges. They may help students choose a major or help students determine what jobs they are qualified for with their degrees.

Career counselors also work with people who have already entered the workforce. These counselors develop plans to improve their client’s current career. They also provide advice about entering a new profession.

Some career counselors work in outplacement firms and assist laid-off workers with transitioning into new jobs or careers. Others work in corporate career centers to assist employees in making decisions about their career path within the company.

Career counselors who work in private practice must spend time marketing their practice to prospective clients and working with clients to receive payments for their services.

How To Become a Vocational Counselor

Most school counselors must have a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field and have a state-issued credential. Some employers prefer that career counselors have a master’s degree. Career counselors who work in private practices may also need a license.

Education

Most states require school counselors to have a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field. Programs in school counseling teach students about fostering academic development; conducting group and individual counseling; working with parents, school staff, and community organizations; and using data to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive school counseling programs for all students. These programs often require students to gain experience through an internship or practicum.

Some employers prefer that career counselors have a master’s degree in counseling with a focus on career development. Career counseling programs prepare students to assess clients’ skills and interests and to teach career development techniques. Many programs require students to have a period of supervised experience, such as an internship.  

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Public school counselors must have a state-issued credential to practice. This credential can be called a certification, a license, or an endorsement, depending on the state. Licensure or certification typically requires a master’s degree in school counseling and an internship or practicum completed under the supervision of a licensed professional school counselor.

Some states require applicants to have 1 to 2 years of classroom teaching experience, or to hold a teaching license, prior to being certified. Most states require a criminal background check as part of the credentialing process. Information about requirements for each state is available from the American School Counselor Association.

Although some employers prefer to hire licensed career counselors, licensure is not required by all states. Contact information for state regulating boards is available from the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Although most states do not require work experience in a related occupation, some states require school counselors to have 1 to 2 years of classroom teaching experience, or to hold a teaching license, prior to being certified. Please see the Similar Occupations tab for more information on teaching occupations.

Important Qualities

Compassion. School and career counselors often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients and students.

Interpersonal skills. School and career counselors must be able to work with different types of people. They spend most of their time working directly with clients, students, or other professionals and need to form and maintain good working relationships.

Listening skills. Good listening skills are essential for school and career counselors. They need to give their full attention to students and clients in order to understand their problems.

Speaking skills. School and career counselors must communicate effectively with clients and students. They should express ideas and information in a way that their clients and students understand easily.

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Average Salary
$39,060
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
8%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
55,815
Job Openings

Vocational Counselor Career Paths

Top Careers Before Vocational Counselor

Top Careers After Vocational Counselor

Counselor
11.0 %

Vocational Counselor Jobs You Might Like

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Average Salary for a Vocational Counselor

Vocational Counselors in America make an average salary of $39,060 per year or $19 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $50,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $30,000 per year.
Average Salary
$39,060
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Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Shasta, CA
Salary Range49k - 71k$60k$59,560
Beverly Hills, CA
Salary Range48k - 68k$57k$57,440
Temecula, CA
Salary Range47k - 67k$56k$56,250
San Diego, CA
Salary Range47k - 66k$56k$55,993
Canton, MA
Salary Range43k - 66k$54k$53,731
Washington, CT
Salary Range42k - 64k$52k$51,983
$28k
$71k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Vocational Counselor I/II-Team 250
Vocational Counselor I/II-Team 250
Mental Health Center of Denver
Mental Health Center of Denver
06/30/2021
06/30/2021
$39,67406/30/2021
$39,674
Doe/Dvr-Senior Vocational Rehab Counselor-48004461-Tampa Unit 15B
Doe/Dvr-Senior Vocational Rehab Counselor-48004461-Tampa Unit 15B
Florida Department of Transportation
Florida Department of Transportation
06/30/2021
06/30/2021
$34,08706/30/2021
$34,087
Doe/Vr Senior Vocational Rehab Counselor
Doe/Vr Senior Vocational Rehab Counselor
State of Florida
State of Florida
06/23/2021
06/23/2021
$34,08706/23/2021
$34,087
Certified Vocational Rehab Counselor
Certified Vocational Rehab Counselor
State of Arkansas
State of Arkansas
06/23/2021
06/23/2021
$45,01006/23/2021
$45,010
Doe/Vr Senior Vocational Rehab Counselor
Doe/Vr Senior Vocational Rehab Counselor
Florida Department of Corrections
Florida Department of Corrections
06/22/2021
06/22/2021
$34,08706/22/2021
$34,087
See More Recent Salaries

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Vocational Counselor Demographics

Gender

female

64.9 %

male

28.7 %

unknown

6.4 %

Ethnicity

White

70.8 %

Hispanic or Latino

11.4 %

Black or African American

10.8 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

58.3 %

French

7.1 %

Portuguese

4.8 %
See More Demographics

Vocational Counselor Education

Majors

Degrees

Bachelors

58.2 %

Masters

22.9 %

Associate

7.6 %

Top Colleges for Vocational Counselors

1. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$6,798
Enrollment
31,503

2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

3. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

4. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

5. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

6. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

7. SUNY at Albany

Albany, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,011
Enrollment
13,434

8. San Jose State University

San Jose, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,796
Enrollment
27,125

9. San Diego State University

San Diego, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,488
Enrollment
30,018

10. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451
See More Education Info

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Top Skills For a Vocational Counselor

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 14.9% of vocational counselors listed vocational rehabilitation on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and speaking skills are important as well.

Best States For a Vocational Counselor

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a vocational counselor. The best states for people in this position are California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Hawaii. Vocational counselors make the most in California with an average salary of $58,044. Whereas in Massachusetts and Connecticut, they would average $53,632 and $51,822, respectively. While vocational counselors would only make an average of $51,049 in Hawaii, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Massachusetts

Total Vocational Counselor Jobs:
2,152
Highest 10% Earn:
$79,000
Location Quotient:
2.32
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. California

Total Vocational Counselor Jobs:
3,651
Highest 10% Earn:
$81,000
Location Quotient:
1.23
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Connecticut

Total Vocational Counselor Jobs:
451
Highest 10% Earn:
$76,000
Location Quotient:
1.35
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Vocational Counselor Employers

1. State of Florida
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$32,426
Vocational Counselors Hired: 
21+
2. Goodwill Industries
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$35,256
Vocational Counselors Hired: 
12+
3. Mental Health Center of Denver
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$31,553
Vocational Counselors Hired: 
10+
4. Devereux Foundation
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$33,065
Vocational Counselors Hired: 
7+
5. Community Services
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$32,381
Vocational Counselors Hired: 
6+
6. Genex Services
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$42,536
Vocational Counselors Hired: 
6+
Updated October 2, 2020