Careers adviser: job description

Careers advisers provide guidance about career choice, employment, training and further education opportunities to clients, including young people and the unemployed.

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Clients of careers advisers include adults, young people, the unemployed, job-changers and students in colleges and further education.

What does a careers adviser do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Careers advisers provide advice and guidance services in a range of settings to people who want support in making choices that will affect their working lives. Their clients include adults, young people, the unemployed, career-changers and students in colleges and further education. Typical responsibilities include:

  • assessing personal characteristics, skills and interests via individual interviews and/or group work
  • providing appropriate help and advice
  • liaising with schools, employers and professional organisations
  • promoting and marketing services
  • writing careers literature, action plans and reports
  • using specialist computer applications
  • providing advice on CVs, applications and interview techniques
  • keeping up to date with information about training routes, professional regulation and the jobs market

Typical employers of careers advisers

Employers include schools, colleges, local authorities and the National Careers Service, which offers face-to-face appointments to adults aged over 19 and operates in a variety of locations, including jobcentres.

Take a look at the vacancies on the TARGETjobs website. The Career Development Institute and Tes websites could also be good places to begin your job hunt.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into careers guidance for both university graduates and school leavers.

Any degree discipline is acceptable for entry into the profession; maturity in attitude, relevant experience and personality are usually more important than subject studied. There are two higher education routes to becoming a careers adviser. Candidates can study for the qualification in career development (QCD), which replaced the qualification in career guidance (QCG) in 2017. Alternatively, they can study for a postgraduate diploma in careers guidance and development, a university course that typically includes a work experience placement.

You may be able to take a work-based route to qualifying, and progress from a role as an advice assistant. However, in order to be admitted to the UK register of career development professionals, which is maintained by the Career Development Institute, you will need to have an approved qualification, such as the QCD or the level 6 diploma in career guidance and development, or equivalent.

Key skills for careers advisers

  • Excellent communication skills – these should include active listening, alongside aptitude for verbal and written communication
  • A non-judgmental manner
  • The ability to motivate people
  • Strong teamwork skills
  • Analytical skills – including the ability to take someone’s interests, experience and preferences, alongside your knowledge, and develop considered suggestions.

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