Welcoming New Members with Special Categories

by Peter Manzi

The only professional "registration" of career expertise for career counselors is the three special membership categories offered to NCDA members. These categories, Fellow, Master Career Counselor and Master Career Development Professional, replace the NCCC credential that was discontinued in 1999.

Until recently, counselors who wanted to receive specialty certification as career counselors had to first obtain certification as National Certified Counselors (NCC) through the National Board of Certified Counselors. Certification was obtained by meeting the course work and clinical experience/supervision to sit for the National Counselor Exam (NCE). Passing the NCE qualified one for a five year term, during which a certified counselor paid an annual fee to maintain her or his status as an NCC. During the five year term one would attend professional conferences and workshops to earn approved CEU credits, with a total of 100 required for re-certification, or if not, re-take the NCE.

Once the NCC was obtained, career counseling specialists who met NBCC criteria (take then pass a career counseling specialty exam, the NCCE), would receive certification as National Certified Career Counselors (NCCC) for five years. The "N triple C" as some called it, became the credential for establishing one's excellence as a career counselor. Things began to change in 1999 when NBCC reviewed the status of NCCCs and decided that because few people had been applying for the NCCE, they would no longer offer the NCCC. The credential was retired in June of 1999. However, those who had obtained it could keep the credential and call themselves NCCCs. The National Career Development Association (NCDA), the oldest and most accomplished of career development and counseling organizations, formed a committee headed by the innovative and cogent Dr. Mark Pope, a Past-President of NCDA, (and a Past- President of ACA) was charged to find an alternative to the NCCC for new career practitioners. For many, it made sense that the organization that advanced career development should take the lead.

In 2000, the committee formed three different Special NCDA membership categories for those seeking a special recognition as career counselors. The three are Fellow, Master Career Counselor, and Master Career Development Professional. These membership categories are described below. All three require membership in NCDA. You can obtain application forms, requirements for eligibility and supporting materials, and application deadline dates at the NCDA web site or by calling toll-free (866) 367-6232.


The term "Fellow" is a person of professional distinction. A Fellow is conferred to recognize outstanding and substantial contributions to the career development profession.
Requirements include five years of professional membership in NCDA; a Master's degree or higher in counseling or a related field from a recognized, accredited program; five years of post-master's experience in career counseling and development; significant contributions to theory, practice and research; strong and sustained leadership in the field; engaged in education, training or research in career development; and a sustained commitment to career counseling and development through theory, research, practice, or leadership. Since 2002, NCDA has honored 38 NCDA members with the distinction of Fellow.

Master Career Counselor (MCC)

The minimum requirements for this category are a two year membership in NCDA (either professional or regular); a master's degree or higher in counseling or closely related field from a regional, accredited program; three years of post-master's experience in career counseling; possess and maintain the NCC, state LPCC, RPCC or licensed psychologist credential; successfully completed at least three credits in each of the six NCDA Competency areas: Career development theory, individual/group counseling skills, individual/group assessment, career information/resources, diverse populations, and ethical/legal issues. Other requirements are successful completion of supervised career counseling work experience under a certified supervisor or licensed counseling professional and documentation that at least one-half of current full-time work activities are directly career counseling related. NCDA members who already hold the NCCC are automatically qualified for the MCC. As of August 2006, there are 238 MCC's.

Master Career Development Professional (MCDP)

The minimum requirements include professional or regular membership in NCDA, a master's degree or higher in counseling or closely related field; three years of post-master's career development experience in training, teaching, program development, or materials development; documentation that a least one-half of current full-time work activities are directly career development related. As of August 2006, there are 81 MCDP's.

Read the complete details online under membership . Those holding special membership categories can have their names and e-mail addresses listed on the NCDA web site under "Need a Career Counselor ". This search by state listing allows visitors to locate a career development professional based on need.

The World Needs More MCCs, MCDPs and Fellows!

Given the ever changing and always complex nature of global career development, the world needs more professionals who hold these special memberships. NCDA and its members want to be taken seriously by other professions and the consumer public; NCDA must stand at the vanguard of career counselor specialization. Career counselors should hold the top credentials to establish and maintain their edge. These membership categories are carefully constructed distinctions that usher in a new and multifaceted era of career counseling expertise.

Peter Manzi, Ed. D, NCC, NCCC, MCC, CDFI is a part-time faculty member in counseling and education and a full-time vocational consultant and counselor, who resides in Rochester NY. His interests include technology in counseling and career development and education, working with diverse populations, people with disabilities, and the relationship between mental health and career development. He can be contacted at pmanzi@waldenu.edu

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