Recession has left many looking for fresh opportunities and the call for advisers to help them on their way is growing The climate is changing for those looking to offer guidance counselling
There are careers. And then there are careers in careers. You can be a guidance counsellor in a school, a careers officer at a third-level college, an internal coach in a big company or set up on your own as a specialist in career coaching or career management.
The employment options are varied, the range of related courses even greater. Though anyone can set up as a career coach, credibility comes only with a properly accredited course and affiliation to respected industry organisations.
Ninety-seven students (from an intake of 100) recently became the first graduates of the first Level 7 diploma in career coaching in Ireland. The diploma was devised and delivered by a private company and is accredited and awarded by Dublin Institute of Technology.
“We are in a recession and people are looking at where the job opportunities are,” said Miriam Magner-Flynn, the managing director of Career Decisions Ireland, the firm that came up with the diploma. “Career coaching is a huge growth area, with people looking for jobs or promotions, and companies bringing in career coaches when they are making people redundant.”
Students learn how to help others choose the right career or change their current work life, mostly through practice-based learning such as role play. They also study subjects such as ethics and marketing.
Of those who graduated recently, 30 have found related jobs and 45 are working for themselves as career coaches. Some are doing so as specialists for the industries in which they have previous work experience, such as construction and law.
The more traditional path into advising on careers is to qualify as a guidance counsellor, having already worked as a teacher, or to study organisational or occupational psychology.
“We would see ourselves as being completely different from career coaches,” said Michael Gleeson, the public relations officer for the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC). “We would see ourselves as professional counsellors in the personal, educational, vocational and career areas. Our institute has more than 1,300 members, about 800 of whom are employed in second-level schools. Others work at third level or are private practitioners.”
To become a member of the IGC, you must have a primary degree and complete a masters in guidance and counselling at Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin or University College Cork, or a graduate diploma from University of Limerick.
Alternatively, you can do one of two specialised higher diplomas at NUI Maynooth, either one in adult guidance or one in school guidance.
“These courses involve modules on the psychology of human development, counselling theory and practice, psychological assessments, ethical issues, educational issues, professional practice and the psychology of work and working life as well as including a work placement,” said Gleeson. “Most of the students would have worked for at least three years as a teacher first.”
However, he warns that, since last week’s budget, the job prospects for guidance counsellors are poor in the short term.