Careers adviser
Social Service & Guidance

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.

Work Activities

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

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for careers advisers

Potential careers advisers should have plenty of confidence and excellent listening, verbal and written communication skills. A non-judgemental manner, the ability to motivate other people and good teamwork and interpersonal skills are also important. Work experience gained in any relevant setting is helpful, although placements within careers offices are difficult to obtain.

Pay And Opportunities

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.

Job vacancies are advertised in the Times Educational Supplement, local, regional and national newspapers and on the website of the Career Development Institute.


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 recently replaced the qualification in career guidance (QCG). Alternatively, they can study for a postgraduate diploma in careers guidance, a university course that takes one year full-time and two years part-time, and is completed in conjunction with work experience.

You may be able to take a work-based route to qualifying, and progress from a role as an advice assistant. There are a number of vocational qualifications available at different levels and it may be possible to progress through these. If you wish to be admitted to the UK register of career development professionals, which is maintainted by the Career Development Institute, you will need to have the QCD or another approved qualification, such as the level 6 diploma in career guidance and development, or equivalent.

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