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What is Vocational Counseling?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Vocational counseling is a career focused on helping those who need to obtain work. There are many centers that might offer these counseling services, including those run by various government agencies, serving a diverse group of people. When people seek out a vocational counselor or are referred to one, they may work with that counselor to evaluate skills, learn how to improve skills, learn how to successfully search for jobs, and develop methods for effectively applying and interviewing for work.

The people who could use vocational counseling can vary. Someone who has trouble maintaining jobs or who has certain skills that are no longer in demand might need to transition to a new career. Those with certain disadvantages in the employment world such as advanced age or disabilities might benefit from these services. Often, people who are receiving any form of state support or unemployment are referred to free visits with a vocational counselor, and while these may not always be mandatory, they could be greatly beneficial.

As part of the work, the vocational counselor is likely to identify interests of the client, and this may be achieved through survey testing and conversation. If a new career is sought, the counselor might ask the client to complete some tests that would determine the client's strengths. At this point, the client may have enough skills in a certain area to immediately start applying for work. If not, the counselor could recommend training programs to gather more skills and find employment in an area the client could enjoy.

Sometimes vocational counseling is of much shorter duration. Clients who just need resources or references for job searches might get what they require in a session or two. The counselor could look at reasons for unemployment and make suggestions on better work habits, or he or she could evaluate interview skills and provide some coaching so that clients are more impressive when they interview. Alternately, some clients need vocational counseling for a much longer period, if they remain unsuccessful in getting a job or need to complete lengthy training first.

There are a number of counselors who may provide some degree of vocational counseling. These include high school and college counselors. Another crossover field is rehabilitation counseling, which can cover career advice and work when people have had significant changes to physical or mental health that change career outlook.

Under the majority of circumstances, vocational counseling is provided at low to no cost. As mentioned this may be offered through government agencies. It could also be available through a number of privately run non-profit agencies, designed to improve the lives of certain population groups.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By Certlerant — On Jan 29, 2014

One great benefit of vocational counseling is learning new computer systems and software.

People who haven't had the need to find a new job for several years often find that one of their biggest issues is that they are not up-to-date on the latest software used by employers.

Counselors can either train you on software or help you find the appropriate training.

By Glasis — On Jan 28, 2014

Vocational counselors are a great resource for those looking for a new job, but, unfortunately, so few people realize they available in their area.

One tip is to ask for information at the unemployment office on how to find counselors. In some states, the unemployment office and counseling services are intertwined.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor...
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