How to Become a Careers Adviser

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Have you ever thought about becoming a careers adviser? Do you want to help others make decisions about their life, education, training and work options?

What is a Careers Adviser?

A careers adviser’s job is to help people find jobs that fit them, taking into consideration several factors such as relevant qualifications, quality of life and average salary. A careers adviser usually works in colleges, universities and schools helping young people make well-informed decisions about their education or older people about their work options like changing their career path.

What Does a Careers Adviser Do?

As previously mentioned, careers advisers work closely with both adults and young people on a group or individual basis, helping them make well-informed, realistic decisions (WIRD) about their training, education and job options by speaking to them and asking them questions to help them evaluate their own interest, abilities and achievements. Their clients consist of young people, adults, career changers, unemployed people and students.

Their ultimate goal is to help people get a job they would enjoy.

And even though there is a range of settings they can work in, their work usually involves the following:

  • Helping clients understand their skills, interests and abilities by using psychometric tests and individual interviews
  • Supporting clients to gather learning and careers information from different sources in digital or printed form
  • Researching different professions and the current labour market trends
  • Assisting clients to assess their options and create and execute action plans for their career
  • Delivering group work- leading discussions and presentations
  • Liaising with employers, schools, institutions, and other organisations
  • Marketing and promoting services
  • Writing career reports, literature and action plans
  • Doing administrative work

Working Conditions

A careers advisor will usually work for 37 hours a week Monday to Friday and may occasionally be required to attend events like open days or information evenings. They could work in schools, universities, colleges and centres offering IAG (information, advice and guidance) with part-time, full-time, temporary, flexitime or job-sharing opportunities. Usually, careers advisors are required to travel frequently.

Up to now, there isn’t a recognised income scale in the UK for careers advisers, and while most salaries vary by location, employer and level, these are some standard figures. For example, starting annual salaries may range from £18,000 to £22,000 and could rise to £27,000 with relevant experience and qualifications. When a careers adviser becomes a manager, they could easily earn up to £35,000 a year. So, this job definitely has some career and salary growth prospects.

Pros and Cons of Being a Careers Adviser

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  • A lot of people end up unhappy in jobs they don’t like. A good careers adviser doesn’t just have a job they like, they are also enjoy helping others find their dream job.
  • As a careers adviser, you will never bored or have a monotonous routine. You could work at a university, college, school, adult centre or even a prison and probably visit different places every week. Also, all careers advisers have a varied job with individual clients, issues and places each day.


  • Although it isn’t a job with a bad salary, it is also not something that will make you rich
  • You will need to be determined and creative to find interesting ways to get your client’s attention with the action plan you suggest to them

Top 10 Industries for Careers Advisers

  • 1Employment activities
  • 2Education
  • 3Public admin. & defence
  • 4Social work
  • 5Health
  • 6Head offices, etc
  • 7Membership organisations
  • 8Office admin.
  • 9Auxiliary services
  • 1Residential care

Personal Qualities and Skills

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To become a successful careers adviser, you need to possess some unique and vital personal qualities, interests and skills. These include:

  • Extensive communication and listening skills
  • Being able to build and maintain great working relationships with people
  • The ability to adapt easily
  • Have a non-judgmental, empathetic and ethical approach
  • Have strong teamwork and individual skills
  • Great organisational skills and be able to manage your own caseload
  • The ability to effectively work under pressure and meet targets
  • Problem-solving skills
  • IT skills
  • Capacity to research information and explain it clearly to clients
  • Great administrative, report writing and record keeping abilities
  • A strong commitment to equal opportunities for everyone
  • Be self-confident in group situations

Qualifications and Training Required

Now that we have convinced you that becoming a careers adviser is the best career option for you, the next step is to learn all about the entry requirements. Two available options help you qualify as a careers adviser; one is a work based route, and the other one is higher education.

The Qualification in Careers Guidance (QCG) can be taken with the Postgraduate Diploma in Careers Guidance at a recognised university in the UK. This course is usually a one-year full-time or two-year part-time course combining both work-based learning placements for work experience and extensive theoretical academic study.

Even though the majority of people undertaking this postgraduate and professional course have a university degree, you may also be accepted onto the course for having several years’ of relevant experience as well as commitment and interest to the subject.

Although these training courses are open to all graduates, a degree in an educational or sociological related topic would be extremely useful to you and subjects such as counselling, psychology, teaching, social work and youth work will be particularly useful for your postgraduate degree.

Each course provider has its own different requirements so it would be better to talk to them personally and find out their exceptions. You can find out more information on the different QCG training and course providers on the Career Development Institute (CDI) website.

If you are already working in a company already offering information, advice and guidance then you may be able to become a careers adviser through a work-based route by working your way up from an assistant to a professional careers guidance adviser.

Some initial qualifications you could take are:

  • Level 2 Award in Delivering, Information, Advice and Guidance
  • Level 3 Award for Supporting Clients to Overcome Barriers to Learning and Work
  • Level 3 Certificate in Advice and Guidance

To qualify as a professional and licensed careers adviser you need the following:

  • Level 4 Diploma in Career Information and Advice
  • Level 6 Diploma in Career Guidance and Development

The qualification you choose to take depends on your job responsibilities and availability of funding for your course. The best thing would be to check with your employer and talk about the available training opportunities.

All these qualifications offer you knowledge and experience related to guidance theory and delivering guidance and advice to clients as well as understanding possible barriers to work and offering solutions to overcome them.

For more information on the NVQ qualifications, check out the OCR website.

Further Training and Development

To be a successful careers adviser, you need to constantly keep your professional knowledge and qualifications up-to-date and complete further study. One way would be to study towards a master’s degree or keep attending events and training programs organised by the Career Development Institute (CDI) where all careers advisers are strongly encouraged to join.

After working for a couple of years as a well-qualified careers adviser, you may move into a supervisory role and have a managerial role or work as a team leader managing other advisers. You can also possibly move into a senior management position which could also mean you would have to relocate to a different city or region.

There is also the option of you to be a specialist in certain areas of need like working with ethnic minorities, physically challenged students or in higher education.

See Also: 20 Ways to Survive After You Graduate

Hopefully, this article has convinced you that becoming a careers adviser is the best career path for you.

Have you ever thought of becoming a careers adviser? Has this article changed your mind at all? Let us know in the comments section...