To become a vocational expert, you will typically have to complete an educational program in mental health or human services and gain significant work experience in the areas of vocational or rehabilitation counseling. You must also achieve additional credentialing in the form of professional licensure and certification. To retain your qualifications as a vocational expert, you will typically have to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis.
The term "vocational expert” is used in the United States to refer to someone who is capable of accurately assessing the earnings potential or possibility of vocational rehabilitation for an individual involved in litigation or who has applied for disability benefits. Although this person may hold other professional credentials and titles, as a vocational expert, he or she essentially functions as an expert witness in cases where there is a question about a person’s ability to work and earn a living. A vocational expert may specialize in different types of litigation or disability cases, such as family court disputes or Social Security disability cases. In fact, certifying bodies may offer you the opportunity to earn a certification credential in one or more of these areas.
You will generally need to hold a graduate degree to become a vocational expert. The degree may be in psychology, rehabilitation, or another relevant field. You will also need to obtain a considerable amount of job experience. You may wish to start by providing counseling or support services within a school or social services agency. It is typically important that you develop your understanding of and expertise in using various types of psychological and vocational tests and assessments as you work to become a vocational expert. You will need this knowledge when making recommendations to judges and lawyers.
In addition to education and work experience, you may also have to hold a license in a mental health or social services field to become a vocational expert. Each state sets its own standards for licensing in these fields, and you will need to meet these standards in order to be eligible for licensure. You may also need to hold certification as a vocational expert through a recognized professional organization. Such organizations may offer different levels of certification, and you may find that your professional opportunities increase as you achieve the higher certifications. The application process typically includes the submission of information about your education and work credentials as well as passing a certifying exam.