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Friday, January 1, 2010

How to Find a Counselor or Coach

Most states don't require licenses, certifications or credentials to work in the career development field. Basically, anybody can hang a shingle and peddle their services. You'll discover an array of fees, services and capabilities. As a consumer, you'd be smart to do some preparatory work to figure out who's best for you.

Start your search by asking friends and colleagues for suggestions, or inquiring at your alma mater's career services office for a referral. Even if your college is located outside your current geographical area, it may have relationships or affiliations with schools in other locations.

Online resources include:

* The Association of Career Professionals International
* The National Career Development Association
* The Institute for Career Certification

Select a counselor or coach who's professionally trained and who has experience working with clients in your situation.

The designation "national certified career counselor," given by the National Board of Certified Counselors, signifies that a counselor has:

* Earned a graduate degree in counseling or a related professional field from a regionally accredited institution
* Completed supervised counseling experience, including career counseling
* Had at least three years of full-time career development work experience
* Passed a certification exam

While this particular program was discontinued in 1999, in 2001 the National Career Development Association offered as alternatives the designations "master career counselor" and "master career development professional." Other respected designations include "career management fellow," "career management practitioner" and "certified career master."

Reviewing credentials can help you weed out untrained practitioners. But credentials only measure a counselor's education and expertise. They don't tell you much about the counselor's personal style – so you'll want to interview three or more counselors before deciding.

Ask career counselors for detailed explanations of services, fees, time commitments and copies of their ethical guidelines. Be skeptical of services that require large up-front fees with promises of better jobs, higher salaries or speedy results.

Also ask for references from other clients, and make certain that you can end the services at any time if you're not satisfied, paying only for the services rendered. Fees range from $60 to $200 per hour or more.

In the end, the best career counseling and coaching relationships are built not only on competence, but also on chemistry. If you're going to achieve your goals, you'll need to share trust and respect with your counselor or coach.

How to Find a Good Career
Coach: Tips for Making the
Right Choice

By Dan King

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