The term “career counseling” has become one of those vague terms where you know it means something but forgot quite what that is.

To help mitigate the confusion, here’s a refresher on everything you didn’t know you needed to know about career counseling.

What is career counseling?

Career counseling is “designed to help with choosing, changing, or leaving a career and is available at any stage in life,” according to GoodTherapy.

Ideally, the field helps to stave off depression, anxiety, and that lack of fulfillment, replacing it with better mental well-being.

Who provides career counseling?

It can be a therapist, life coach, business coach, or even a trusty mentor.

It’s best that the person be specifically trained to provide career information resources, guidance, and professional development.

When should I get a career counselor?

Acquiring a career counselor has no timeline; it can be done in the beginning, middle, or end of your career.

You don’t need to be in the midst of starting or changing your career to benefit from career counseling. Career counselors also work with established professionals to help them feel more fulfilled, to negotiate higher salaries, and even to show them how to set higher prices for their services.

Here are some common themes your career counselor may help you explore, whether you’re choosing a new career or trying to grow in your already-established one:

  • What makes me feel happy and fulfilled?
  • What do I like to do? What am I good at?
  • What are my most prominent skills and which ones can I continue to build on?
  • What are my values and how do they align with my career path?
  • Is it more important to me that I help others or make a lot of money?
  • What qualifications do I already have in the field (i.e. an undergraduate degree)

Resources career counsels use

Your career counselor can help determine your interests and personality type using IQ tests, aptitude tests, or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

All of these resources are extremely helpful in pinning down your best career path using your own personality traits.

Are career counselors even worth it?

Career counseling has drawn many a discerning eye.

For whatever reason, many professionals have adopted the attitude that career counselors are “frauds.”

In reality, the most successful entrepreneurs and execs swear on career counselors to help keep them moving in the direction of their dreams i.e. upward mobility, professional development, and tenure.

C-level suite executives that have been in the game for a while might be handed their passions back while other professionals can also regain clarity and motivation.

The secret sauce to career counseling is being held accountable, a necessary ingredient for professional (and personal) growth.

After all, who else would be willing to listen to that taped conversation of your last interview? That’s right, no one.

Best of all, you’ll get timely feedback on what you’re doing right – and wrong.

Deodorant-stained shirt, anyone?

Another reason to consider a career counselor is if you’ve been on the market for a while. A good counselor can help you figure out why you’re not seeing any traction and give you new avenues to explore. It’s an investment that very well may end up paying for itself, and then some.

How to find a career counselor

Career counselors can be private individuals or may be employed by state departments of labor, community agencies, schools, colleges, and private firms.

Counselors usually hold master’s degrees in counseling or career development and can be certified by organizations like the National Board of Certified Counselors.

Some ways to go about locating one are asking friends and family or contacting your college’s career office about free counseling for grads.

How to choose the right career counselor for you

Choosing a career counselor is akin to choosing a doctor or other service professional; you don’t want to end up with the wrong one.

To avoid having to deal with that, ask for references, pricing information, industry specialization, and remember to always check credentials. Do your homework!

It is best to avoid counselors who offer expensive packages of sessions. Instead, go with a counselor who charges by the visit.

Sessions typically cost between $75 and $150 per hour, according to The Motley Fool.

For even more peace of mind, check out the National Career Development Association (NCDA), which demands certain competencies of career counseling professionals like training, counseling, and assessment. You can also use the Counselor Find function through the National Board of Certified Counselors.

Now get out there and increase that old motivation – and earning potential.

Originally published on Ladders.

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