Career Counseling Competencies
National Career Development Association
Career Counseling Competencies
(Revised Version, 1997)
NOTE: IN 2009, NCDA updated these Career Counseling Competencies to infuse multicultural competencies. See the Multi-Cultural Career Counseling Minimum Competencies for the most up-to-date information.
Introduction to Career Counseling Competency Statements
These competency statements are for those professionals interested and trained in the field of career counseling. For the purpose of these statements, career counseling is defined as the process of assisting individuals in the development of a life-career with focus on the definition of the worker role and how that role interacts with other life roles.
NCDA’s Career Counseling Competencies are intended to represent minimum competencies for those professionals at or above the Master’s degree level of education. These competencies are reviewed on an ongoing basis by the NCDA Professional Standards Committee, the NCDA Board, and other relevant associations.
Professional competency statements provide guidance for the minimum competencies necessary to perform effectively a particular occupation or job within a particular field. Professional career counselors (Master’s degree or higher) or persons in career development positions must demonstrate the knowledge and skills for a specialty in career counseling that the generalist counselor might not possess. Skills and knowledge are represented by designated competency areas, which have been developed by professional career counselors and counselor educators. The Career Counseling Competency Statements can serve as a guide for career counseling training programs or as a checklist for persons wanting to acquire or to enhance their skills in career counseling.
In order to work as a professional engaged in Career Counseling, the individual must demonstrate minimum competencies in eleven designated areas. These eleven areas are: Career Development Theory, Individual and Group Counseling Skills, Individual/Group Assessment, Information/Resources, Program Management and Implementation, Consultation, Diverse Populations, Supervision, Ethical/Legal Issues, Research/Evaluation, and Technology. These areas are briefly defined as follows:
The competency statements were developed to serve as guidelines for persons interested in career development occupations. They are intended for persons training at the Master’s level or higher with a specialty in career counseling. However, this intention does not prevent other types of career development professionals from using the competencies as guidelines for their own training. The competency statements provide counselor educators, supervisors, and other interested groups with guidelines for the minimum training required for counselors interested in the career counseling specialty. The statements might also serve as guidelines for professional counselors who seek in-service training to qualify as career counselors.
Career development professionals must only perform activities for which they "possess or have access to the necessary skills and resources for giving the kind of help that is needed" (see NCDA and ACA Ethical Standards). If a professional does not have the appropriate training or resources for the type of career concern presented, an appropriate referral must be made. No person should attempt to use skills (within these competency statements) for which he/she has not been trained. For additional ethical guidelines, refer to the NCDA Ethical Standards for Career Counselors.
Career Counseling Competencies and Performance Indicators
Career Development Theory
Theory base and knowledge considered essential for professionals engaging in career counseling and development. Demonstration of knowledge of:
1. Counseling theories and associated techniques.
2. Theories and models of career development.
3. Individual differences related to gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and physical and mental capacities.
4. Theoretical models for career development and associated counseling and information-delivery techniques and resources.
5. Human growth and development throughout the life span.
6. Role relationships which facilitate life-work planning.
7. Information, techniques, and models related to career planning and placement
Individual and Group Counseling Skills
Individual and group counseling competencies considered essential to effective career counseling. Demonstration of ability to:
1. Establish and maintain productive personal relationships with individuals.
2. Establish and maintain a productive group climate.
3. Collaborate with clients in identifying personal goals.
4. Identify and select techniques appropriate to client or group goals and client needs, psychological states, and developmental tasks.
5. Identify and understand clients’ personal characteristics related to career.
6. Identify and understand social contextual conditions affecting clients’ careers.
7. Identify and understand familial, sub-cultural and cultural structures and functions as they are related to clients’ careers.
8. Identify and understand clients’ career decision-making processes.
9. Identify and understand clients’ attitudes toward work and workers.
10. Identify and understand clients’ biases toward work and workers based on gender, race, and cultural stereotypes.
11. Challenge and encourage clients to take action to prepare for and initiate role transitions by:
12. Assist the client to acquire a set of employability and job search skills.
13. Support and challenge clients to examine life-work roles, including the balance of work, leisure, family, and community in their careers.
Individual/group assessment skills considered essential for professionals engaging in career counseling. Demonstration of ability to:
Information/resource base and knowledge essential for professionals engaging in career counseling. Demonstration of knowledge of:
Program Promotion, Management, and Implementation
Knowledge and skills necessary to develop, plan, implement, and manage comprehensive career development programs in a variety of settings. Demonstration of knowledge of:
Demonstration of ability to:
Coaching, Consultation, and Performance Improvement
Knowledge and skills considered essential in relating to individuals and organizations that impact the career counseling and development process. Demonstration of ability to:
Knowledge and skills considered essential in relating to diverse populations that impact career counseling and development processes. Demonstration of ability to:
Knowledge and skills considered essential in critically evaluating counselor or career development facilitator performance, maintaining and improving professional skills. Demonstration of:
Information base and knowledge essential for the ethical and legal practice of career counseling. Demonstration of knowledge of:
Knowledge and skills considered essential in understanding and conducting research and evaluation in career counseling and development. Demonstration of ability to:
Knowledge and skills considered essential in using technology to assist individuals with career planning. Demonstration of knowledge of:
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