A truly great counselor is hard to find, difficult to part with, and impossible to forget! - Anonymous.
Career counseling is a much sought-after career management service in India. People often deal with questions like- How do I make a career transition? How do I upskill? How do I get promoted? How can I plan for my professional growth? You, the career counselor can help answer these questions and put people's doubts to rest.
According to the most recent data provided by career management companies in India, there are millions of Indian youth who are seeking career planning and career development advice from experts. There is a specific spike in the demand for career counselors when it comes to switching career paths or grow up the professional ladder in an individual's current company.
Read on to find out how to become a career counselor and what is the scope of career counseling in India.
What is the Best Path to Follow for Career Counselors?
Success in the field of counselling depends on a lot of factors. It depends on your education, previous careers (if any), and even your assessment techniques for your students, among other things. The advantage of the counseling job is that it allows you to branch out in more than one field of specialization. With the right guidance and information, you can easily succeed as a counselor.
Who is A Career Counselor?
A career counselor is someone who helps individuals or companies, seeking professional guidance on career roadmaps. They often go by other popular names like professional coach, career development coach, etc. This type of coaching involves a lot of handholding for individuals and groups who are striving to achieve their professional goals or aspiring to taste success in their careers.
As a career counselor, you can design and engage with aspirants in individual, one-on-one sessions or go for group orientation sessions. The choice is yours and depends a great deal on the services required by your clients. The same sessions can be tailored for executive coaching, coaching for a senior company executive or senior official in order to manage stress or master interpersonal communication (voice, gestures, intonation) at interviews or press conferences.
Group sessions are intended to help groups of professionals working in the same company or the same department. You would usually focus on building some specific skills in these sessions.
Scope of Career Counseling in India
A professional counsellor is much in demand. In fact, there is a scarcity of professional counsellors in India. This is owing to the fact that there is about a million youth who graduate out of college every year in India, and only a few thousand counselors to cater to their career needs.
Many firms and multinational companies too, hire career counselors and coaches to resolve some specific situations that are persistent. These may include conducting sessions on:
- Stress management.
- Emotion management.
- Conflict management.
- Change management.
- Non-violent communication.
Counseling is, thus, a very aspiring career option and often considered as one of the most valuable services rendered to aspiring job seekers and working professionals.
Degrees and Diplomas for A Job in Career Counseling
Unlike other specializations in the field of counseling, there are no mandated qualifications or degrees that you are required to complete to start practicing as a career counselor. There is no existing framework regulating the line of work of professional counselors. So, you can be an athlete and a career counselor at the same time. But of course, there are some standards that would be expected of you and you may want to work on acquiring the related skills and certifications.
Recommended Training Programs for Professional Counselors
You may not need a degree to start practicing as a counselor. However, there are some training programs that can help learn new skills related to the field, especially if you don't have a background in Psychology or Social Work. Some of the top programs that you can get enrolled in are:
- Leadership and COaching.
- Systems Thinking.
- Transactional Analysis.
- Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
- Empathy and Active Listening.
Apart from these programs, you should assess and identify your clients and their needs. This will help you prepare your strategies and approaches. You have to know beforehand if you are dealing with a stressful company environment, the work culture, individual problems, job prospects, etc. Try to highlight these skills in your CV apart from the relevant training to expand your bouquet of services.
Some of the top colleges in India offering diploma in career counseling are:
- CVM Institute of Human Resource Development.
- Government College of Educational Psychology and Guidance.
- Maharshi Dayanand University.
- SGT University, Gurgaon.
- Global Institute of Medical Science.
- Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
You can easily land jobs across sectors like education, NGO, entertainment and films, news, and media. It is also recommended that coaches receive regular training to specialize and/or update on current professional practices.
Along with training programs, it is an important step to get accreditation from a recognized body. In India, the apex body that issues such affiliations is the Career Counseling Psychology Association of India. The process can be fairly lengthy. So, you need to ensure that you apply with ample time in hand and keep all your documents in place, including those related to voluntary experiences.
And if you still feel like getting a degree from a top university, there is no harm in investing in your education. You can also apply for online programs that teach professional counseling and build your competence to review and analyze professional practices and unique client cases.
It is interesting to note that more than 50% of professional counselors do not have a formal degree in Psychology or counseling. They are mostly graduates in Business Administration, Management, or Engineering. One common specialization that has proven to help in this field is the domain of Human Resource Management.
What Skills Are Required in A Professional Counselor Role?
As a professional career counselor, you are expected to possess the following skillsets:
- Having an ethical code.
- Interpersonal relationship skills.
- Ability to ask critical questions.
- Monitoring and evaluation.
- Analytical skills.
- Research skills.
In addition, counselors need to work with a level head and demonstrated high levels of mental and emotional maturity. If you are impulsive or get emotionally overwhelmed too easily, then you may not be cut out for this role.
Other Important Skills
Besides the core skills that you must possess to work as a career counselor in schools or other areas, it is good to possess some additional skills that might come in handy:
- Networking skills.
- Financial Literacy.
- Negotiation skills.
- Effective Communication.
- Awareness of Psychometric Assessment Techniques.
- Knowledge of current job trends.
- Leadership skills.
- Business development.
- Resource mobilization.
- Marketing and Sales.
Tips on Becoming A Career Counselor
In trying to figure out which path to follow for career counselors, it might sometimes be a little overwhelming and even confusing. In trying to manage the stress of others, you yourself might get stressed out. Counselors also need someone to support, guide, accompany, and ensure your well-being. These constitute the most useful tips for becoming a career counselor.
Some counseling jobs also require you to engage with psychosocial issues like depression or burnout. But a career counselor's role is pretty cut out and straightforward. You have to help your clients manage their career development.
Another useful tip is to choose your own working hours and fix your consulting rates commensurate with industry standards. Work as a part-time career consultant and full-time school counselor to increase your income prospects. After all, most career counselors are self-employed in India or work in the private sector.
It takes a substantial amount of time to establish a good network of clients. The average time to establish your own consulting label is anything between 3 to 7 years. So, it is important to start off with a counseling job before you move on to start your own consulting business. But once established, counseling careers can be very lucrative and offer a comfortable life. Your earning potential can be limitless if you have recognized affiliations and a fixed client base. But you have to program your mind in a way that allows for patience and a lot of hard work.
Being able to help someone learn something is a talent. - Margaret Riel.
And that talent is waiting to burst out. You have the ability to inspire change in other human beings. As a counselor, that is the biggest reward you will ever get from your job.