There is a high number of college students and recent graduates who are clueless about their career choice. There are also actively employed professionals who hate their jobs, think their jobs aren’t challenging enough for them, or feel their jobs don’t pay well. Regardless of the situation, many of these people will definitely find the services of a career coach extremely useful.
Career coaches are experienced specialists who offer coaching and professional development services to students and professionals at various career stages. If you would like to shape the career goals and professional lives of thousands of people, and you possess great coaching and mentoring skills, then this is one career you could enjoy. Keep reading to learn what it takes to enter and excel in the profession.
See Also: How to Choose a Career Coach
1. What Do Career Coaches Do?
Their day-to-day duties include:
- Interviewing clients to gather information about their likes, dislikes, attitudes and career goals in general
- Helping clients to identify or formulate career goals
- Advising clients, particularly high school and college students, on career pathways and educational requirements
- Helping clients to develop the occupational skills they need to succeed – this may involve recommending activities such as attending industry workshops that can help them develop the necessary skills
- Helping clients to find jobs – this may involve providing feedback on résumés or cover letters, referring them to employment agencies or using their industry contacts to provide information on open vacancies
- Helping clients develop strategies for a successful job interview
- Organizing workshops where they provide attendees with insights on job market trends
- Working with the disabled to help them find careers that match their strengths
- Designing and improving career coaching programs for institutions
- Tracking clients’ career progress
2. Work Environment
Career coaches typically work from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. In some circumstances, however, they may have to work past 5pm. In community learning facilities, for example, these coaches usually attended to clients who report for coaching in the evenings and during weekends.
Career coaches may work in a variety of settings but usually spend their time in an office environment where they conduct private interviews with clients, or in classrooms or boardrooms where they hold group sessions.
The job may involve a bit of travel, especially for career coaches who are contracted by organizations to coach their employees.
According to Indeed, an occupational resources website, career coaches earn an average salary of $51,000 per year.
4. Entry Requirements
To become a career coach, there is no doubt you should be highly knowledgeable on counseling matters. As such, the best way to prepare yourself for this job is to pursue a bachelor’s degree in counseling, psychology or human and organizational development. Nonetheless, it is quite common to find coaches with academic backgrounds in business.
After undergraduate school, you could choose to find employment in a related field and gain some experience. For example, you can start out as an entry-level career analyst at a career consulting firm or as a referral agent at an employment services agency. However, it is preferable to enroll in a graduate school and earn a master’s degree in counseling.
California State University, Northride in California, for example, offers a Master of Science degree that gives students the option of specializing in career counseling. Some of the topics you will learn include individual and group counseling, counseling in cross-cultural settings, research principles, organizational analysis, motivation in learning and development, and career education for the handicapped. You will also have the opportunity to complete a counseling practicum that will enable you to sharpen your counseling skills.
Other universities offering graduate programs in career counseling include:
- Penn State College of Education, Pennsylvania
- Sacramento State College of Education, California
- Florida State University, Florida
If you are unable to secure an admission into a counseling program, you could also pursue a master’s in organizational development or industrial psychology.
5. Important Qualities
To be an accomplished career coach, you need:
- The ability to motivate and inspire people
- The ability to handle a variety of tasks, prioritize and solve problems
- The ability to work effectively with other professionals
- Strong analytical skills to assess people’s abilities and qualities
- Respect for people from all works of life (strong interpersonal skills)
- A genuine interest in all people regardless of their position in society
- Excellent presentation skills
- Clear verbal and written communication skills
- The ability to listen and analyze your clients’ career difficulties without being judgmental
- Good decision-making skills to choose the right career goals for your clients and help them make the right professional decisions
- Good research skills to easily gather information on industry statistics and open job vacancies
- The ability to keep clients’ information confidential
- The patience to allow other people enough time to learn new things or skills
- To be approachable and welcoming – many people want to develop rapport with their coaches before they can trust them with private or confidential information
- Good time management skills to plan your time accordingly, especially when working with clients with busy schedules
- Good telephone skills since some clients may not prefer to have face-to-face interviews
- Skills in goal-setting and performance evaluation
- Good IT skills
- An awareness of current trends and issues in career counseling
- The ability to adhere to career coaches’ code of professional ethics
6. Career Advancement
Early in your career as a career coach, you will certainly work with high school and college students. As you master the art of career counseling and gain more professional work experience, so will be your prospects of coaching established professionals.
To fast-track your career progression prospects, be sure to:
- Pursue a professional certification from the Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches. PARWC offers the Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) credential that demonstrates a holder’s mastery of coaching techniques. The World Coach Institute also offers the Certified Career Coach (CCC) designation.
- Attend career counseling seminars organized by universities and industry associations to network with other career coaches and grow your professional reputation.
7. Job Opportunities
The employers of career coaches include:
- Community colleges
- Private and public schools
- Private organizations
- Government agencies
- Employment organizations
- Community resource centers
- Career consulting firms
With vast work experience and a professional certification, you can move into self-employment and establish your own career coaching center. To succeed in self-employment, you will need good business and marketing skills to price your services competitively and promote your business in the right market segments.
If you wish to move into academia, then you need to further your education credential by earning a PhD in counseling, like the one offered at Wayne State University in Michigan.
See Also: How to Fire Your Career Coach and Why
How good are the employment prospects for career coaches? Well, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of career counselors will grow by 12 percent through 2022. Since this growth rate beats the 11 percent average for all occupations, all aspiring coaches should not expect to find much trouble finding employment.
So if you have a passion for helping other people choose their career paths and chase their dreams, and you are ambitious enough to pursue the advanced degrees and professional certifications required to excel, then you have what it take to become a career coach.
If you have any questions about this career, feel free to ask in the comments section below.