Getting advice for career and school options is, and always will be, a huge challenge for anyone, let alone for students. During high school, and especially university, society places enormous pressure on students with the amount of career options available to them.

Whether they’re struggling in school or in their professional lives, getting a career assessment or guidance counselling can make a huge difference in many people’s lives. Because the unemployment rate in Britain has decreased to its lowest levels since the 70s, choosing a degree path or new career for fresh graduates can be a tough task to accomplish alone in a tight market.

Understanding the educational system in the UK can sometimes seem to labyrinthine to be possible, especially when finding the right degree or vocational path can be so vital when searching for jobs in the future. Whether it be because you want fight against college dropout rates or want to help people find the right vocation, becoming a school psychologist or counsellor might just be for you!

From what to study to what you should include on your resume and cover letter, here’s how to become a school and career advisor for students and professionals!

departmental counselling
If you're interested in helping children, child psychology can be a rewarding major

Becoming a School Psychologist or Counsellor

If you aren’t familiar with the counselling world of work, it’s probably because becoming a counsellor can take you onto many different career pathways. This is true even when zeroing in on the job market that is specific to working with schools. While there are many different qualities that career professionals have that may qualify you for this particular career plan, or even career change, understanding what exactly school psychologists or counsellors do can be tricky.

With so many job opportunities available, either online or in a career centre, becoming a counsellor can happen in numerous ways. Start untangling the world of counselling by knowing the difference between a school psychologist and a school counsellor.

Role of the Educational Psychologist

If you’re less interested in working as a carer coach of sorts and more passionate about giving aid to children and young adults, working as an education psychologist might be a viable option for you. While career or guidance counsellors tend to lean more towards giving students and professionals career advice, professional school psychologists give support to students struggling with emotional or social turbulence.

Some of the tasks you may work on if you start working as an education psychologist are:

  • Help students with learning stumbling blocks
  • Provide emotional and social support
  • Aid in and monitor behavioural changes
  • Other, general psychological concerns

This is especially distinct from the role of the school or professional counsellor, who deals more with career management, providing job seekers or students with possible career choices, job search strategies and interview skills for after graduation, updating career resources such as information on career fairs or job fairs, example cover letters and more.

Being an education psychologist requires someone who is relatively good at cooperation and enjoys collaboration with other professionals in related fields such as teachers, social workers and others. The kind of career opportunities available for people interested in this field will, for the great majority, be found in the public sector. This includes school, the NHS and other organizations such as charities or volunteer organizations.

Role of the School Counsellor

On the other side of the spectrum, there are school counsellors and career consultants. While a school counsellor might sound like a similar career choice as an educational psychologist, they involve different qualifications and tasks. School counsellors tend to help students decide on what career to choose, providing options for possible career choices, occupations, or helping with the internship search.

This can take on a variety of forms, the most common being in the form of providing counselling in the Further Education and Training sector or at career information centres in universities. Career counsellors, on the other hand, provide adults with career assessments, information on employment opportunities, jobs and internships. They often have many professional or student employment statistics, as well as resources for mock interview, job board and job postings materials.

Some of the most common tasks performed by both career fields are:

  • Assist students to draft or review CVs
  • Give advice on advancing or switching career paths
  • Getting professionals or students an appointment with relevant training or student services
  • Updating professional or student resources online

As a student or career counsellor, the most common job market you can tap into is the private sector. Whether you’re working with companies that want to ensure student success either in university or to act as a career guide for those already in the job market, you will have opportunities in a development centre specializing in a plethora of subjects.

Check here for personal development courses.

center for career development
Working at a career development center can mean helping clients prepare for interviews

Become a Career Planning or Counselling Professional

Whether you’re looking for an online job or want to know more about your career interest in educational psychology, take a look at the common qualifications you’ll need to start working in the field.

Preparing for a job interview or simply want to know what kind of online resources to check out when looking at becoming a career guidance counsellor? Start by understanding what kind of postsecondary education or college career you’ll need to become a student or professionals counsellor.

School Psychologist

If you’re interested in becoming a psychologist that specializes in helping children in the school system with their personal and academic struggles, you will need to follow a pretty standard education pathway in order to get a job in the field. Here is the academic and professional experience the Association of Educational Psychologists in the UK recommends.

Whether you’re just taking your A-levels or struggling with your university admissions exam, understand that taking a psychology course before your first year of uni can increase your chances of getting into a great program while giving you a clearer idea of what the discipline is actually like. Achieving great scores on your A-levels in general subjects will, in all scenarios, help you shine in the applications process.

For your bachelor’s degree, choosing a program in psychology or a specialization of it will be necessary as you will need to understand the foundations of general psychology before working with children and teenagers. After graduating, consider taking a post-graduate training course in order to get the experience of working with young adults as either a professional consultant or a volunteer.

School and Career Development and Counselling

If you think you would enjoy becoming a positive impact on students or adults through career advising, this could be the perfect opportunity to try. If you’re left wondering, “what can I do to start working in school or career guidance?” - here are the steps you should take.

Both jobs tend to be second or third career moves because of the fact that building resumes, understanding the intricacies of job shadowing, offering individualized career advice and participating in the occasional job fair often requires quite a bit of life experience.

When choosing a career as a school or career counsellor, you are not required to have a bachelor’s degree although it might help get you to stand out. UCAS, or the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, recommends getting the accredited with counselling bodies in the UK.

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Counselling, while rewarding, can be a heavy experience. Take time to unwind daily

Getting the Right Accreditations

Before worrying about understanding the Myers Briggs assessment or what kind of walk in hours you can expect from career counselling, it will be important for you to decide whether or not you want to get accredited.

When working with young adults or children as a school therapist or off-site psychologist, your job prospects can increase if your potential employers see that you’re accredited, or recognized, with an established body or organization. The Professional Standards Authority in the UK has a database on the different accrediting bodies for different health care services that aren’t strictly regulated, like child psychology. One example of a membership body is the Association of Child Psychotherapists, which registers the psychologists who are trained to work with people from ages 0 to 25 years old.

Getting accredited by an organization isn’t just for psychologists but is a great move to make as a counsellor as well. Some examples, whether you want to work in carer or school counselling, are the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the National Counselling Society. These kinds of organizations can either give you recommendations on what kind of qualifications to get or offer courses that can get you accredited.

Some of the other tips that can help you find a job in your field, regardless of what career path you choose, is to practice your interviewing skills, find a shadowing program and participate in networking events. Make sure to always explore career options in counselling programs in the public and private sector.

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