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A day in the life of a career counsellor

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

Though a nation of flourishing industries, Australia continues to face varied barriers to employment - especially among its youth. 

In fact, recent data shows that 50% of those aged between 15 and 25 were not employed full-time. The latest report by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) revealed that it now takes an average of 4.7 years for students to transition from their studies to the workplace.

These high numbers not only concern the demographic’s career prospects, but the economy as well; with Australian unemployment costing $15.9 billion in lost GDP. 

These reports show that poor awareness in the skills, experience, and vocational education required to find work; along with a lack of information on the job market, serves as common hindrances to employment.

This is where career counsellors come in: professionals who play a valuable role in our community, bridging the gap between job-seekers and opportunity

For those who wish to make a difference, SkillsTalk dive into everything you need to know on the field - including industry data, day-to-day responsibilities, and the positive impact these individuals bring to Australian society.

What’s a day in the life like for a career counsellor? 

  1. Quick facts on the job.
  2. Day-to-day responsibilities.
  3. Common challenges among career counsellors.
  4. The positive impact of career counsellors.

1. Quick facts on the job.

What is a career counsellor?

A career counsellor is a professional who assists one’s search for employment; analysing their underlying drive, motivations, personality traits, and abilities to determine the best-suited career path for them.

The process is typically carried out through a series of interviews, counselling sessions and aptitude tests to get a clear grasp on client’s ambitions and competencies. This service is available to individuals of high-school age and above, regardless of skill level – and whether they’re seeking their first job, or considering a career change.

Industry statistics

The counselling industry is a large one in Australia, brimming of employment opportunity in most (if not all) regions. The field is expected to grow strongly in the next five years, from 25,900 workers in 2018 to 30,500 by 2023 – with around 22,000 job openings in-between. 

According to Payscale, the average yearly earnings of a careers counsellor in Australia is around $61,000, with those in the highest-earning bracket getting around $88,000. As one’s experience level increases, so does their potential salary. 

Where do career counsellors work?

Depending on their specialisation, career counsellors can be found in a wide range of workplace environments. 

Some focus on mentoring students in their career choices, helping them research their options and acquire the appropriate skills to pursue them. Such counsellors typically work in high school or university campus settings. (Those working for universities may also assist students in choosing their majors and courses, along with developing a career plan post-graduation.) 

Others may be employed by corporations, with clients who require their services in finding suitable employees for their workforce (essentially performing the same duties above, only in reverse).

Then there are those who work for private or government agencies, simply helping working adults in need of career guidance. 

According to Job Outlook, most counsellors can be found working for health care and social assistance, education and training, or public administration and safety. 

2. Day-to-day responsibilities.

woman consultant speaking with client

Career counsellors establish strong, positive relationships with their clients, typically fostering open discussions on their career-driven goals, needs, and concerns. 

As mentioned, much of the job consists of thorough interviews and assessments to achieve a full understanding of their interests, existing skills, and educational and employment history. Such data is then applied in analysing and identifying their clients’ career options; often working with them through this research process. 

Clients may additionally be mentored in their job-searching abilities, including where to find open positions and employment resources. The objective is to ultimately find a career path that offers optimal job satisfaction and monetary earnings for their client

The next step would then be advising the client on the necessary skillsets and educational programs they’ll need for their chosen field. Counsellors may also aid their clients in basic jobs skills such as networking, resume writing, and interview performance. They may additionally connect them to further services in the community to aid them in their employment goals (such as those that offer financial support).

Other times, clients may simply be looking to progress in their current careers, rather than seeking employment. Career counsellors may then help them source the appropriate training programs or events to further their skills

3. Common challenges among career counsellors.

Though a rewarding profession, careers counselling comes with its fair share of challenges.

In an industry that concentrates on people, one must have the empathy and emotional intelligence to connect with clients from varying socio-economic and cultural contexts. Some clients may be struggling with peer, familial, and financial pressures that counsellors must consider when providing advice. This may occasionally result in “client resistance” or difficult behaviour.

Careers expert Sherrie Gong Taguchi advises offering unending encouragement in such circumstances; showing genuine care and understanding while turning client anxiety into actionable, purposeful plans. 

Some clients may also have disabilities hindering them in their job search. Counsellors will then need to help them develop the essential skills for finding work and the technical skills for their chosen field, as well as communicate with potential employers.

Another common work challenge is the unrealistic expectations among clients, with many expecting high-end results while leaving counsellors to do all the heavy lifting. To avoid this, it’s best to set clear boundaries early, and be firm in your work process and the services you offer.

Let clients know that you are not a “placement service”, rather a source of expertise to make their job hunt easier. Let them do their part in their employment search, and ensure they’re fully responsible for their career management and progression. 

4. The positive impact of career counsellors.

happy male client shaking woman advisor's hand

Needless to say, career counsellors play a valuable role in Australian society and its working communities. Their services not only enlighten job-seekers and current employees on the resources and skills required for career progression; they also help those in more pressing circumstances, such as redundancy.

Getting laid off your job unexpectedly can often leave one confused, anxious, and struggling with a damaged self-esteem. Careers counsellors offer uplifting expertise and reassurance, easing them in their transition and helping them uncover new job opportunities

Research has also found careers counselling to contribute to better psychological health. Part of their role, after all, is helping clients adjust their attitudes and behaviours as necessary to achieve their goals. Through their commonalities with therapeutic counselling (such as providing emotional support and building ‘helping’ relationships), case studies have shown significant improvements in the personal or psychological difficulties of clients

These professionals are helpful sources for fresh, new perspectives on your employment choices and career situation. With their high-level knowledge of varying industries and the recruitment process, they help clients find their career-driven purpose, motivation, and direction. 

Looking to start a career in counselling?

The role of a careers counsellor offers many dynamic challenges – though plenty of fulfilment, in turn. If you’re looking to help others for a living,

Upskilled offers a CHC51015 - Diploma of Counselling (CHC51015) that can help kickstart your career in the field. Through both practical and thereotical courses that explore the practices, ethics, and therapeutic techniques of counselling, the program serves as a valuable stepping stone in your industry training. 

Best of all, it’s delivered 100% online, letting you flexibly study according to your needs and schedule.

Get your start in the field of counselling, and enquire today. 

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