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A career counsellor gets satisfaction from helping clients find the right job.

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Job: Career counsellor

Role: While the duties of career counsellors vary, they are all focused on helping clients find meaningful work by identifying the educational pathways leading to those goals. Some also provide career assessment tools, interview preparation, assistance with résumés, or provide information about labour markets and employment demands.

Salary: The Toronto-based Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling, or CERIC, stated in a 2011 report that 19 per cent of career professionals make less than $40,000 per year, 32 per cent earn between $40,000 and $55,000, 23 per cent earn between $55,000 and $70,000 and 13 per cent have a yearly income of $70,000 to $85,000. The remaining 13 per cent earn more than $85,000 annually.

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Riz Ibrahim, the executive director of CERIC, said salary is often determined based on location. "It can also be the sector that people are involved in, if they work in a college career centre versus an agency, that can have an impact," he said. "It also depends on whether they are running their own career firm, and what level they are within the organization."

The highest paid members of the industry often occupy a senior management or executive position within a career development agency, serve as directors of college career centres or provide executive-level career coaching, Mr. Ibrahim said.

Education: While there are no strict educational requirements for career counsellor, the CERIC survey found that 44 per cent of those working in the field today have completed a master's degree, and another 38 per cent have earned a bachelor's degree. "Most likely people are coming into the field having studied educational or counselling psychology, organizational bahviour or social work," said Mr. Ibrahim.

By the Numbers: According to CERIC's 2011 report, 79 per cent of career service professionals are female, 30 per cent are over the age of 55, and 85 per cent are employed full-time.

Job Prospects: With about 30 per cent of the industry currently over the age of 55, those nearing retirement will soon leave a gap in the industry, where new entrants will be required. Furthermore, with the high volume of unemployed and underemployed Canadians looking for employment opportunities, Mr. Ibrahim expects the industry to continue to grow, but not in all sectors.

"In some sectors, especially where it's tied to government funding, there is a sense that that leads to some longer term insecurity within the working field," he said. "Government programs, such as in B.C., really consolidated the industry… so that was a bit of a challenge."

Challenges: "Trying to get young people meshed into the right careers is a bit of a challenge," says Mr. Ibrahim. "There is also a disconnect in terms of the talent that is available and the skills that are required by industry."

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Mr. Ibrahim adds that some career counsellors also assist those with mental health issues in environments where social and community supports are lacking. "That can be challenging when they're trying to get someone integrated into the labour market," he said.

Why they do it: Career counsellors are motivated by the satisfaction of helping their clients find meaningful, often life-changing career opportunities. "They recognize that many Canadians struggle to find what it is they love to do, so career professionals see that they have a role in helping in that capacity as well," said Mr. Ibrahim.

Misconceptions: Many believe that career counsellors only assist in writing résumés, when in fact their responsibilities extend into a much wider array of services, said Mr. Ibrahim. Furthermore, many individuals believe that these services are often too expensive for them to utilize. "In fact, many of the services that are offered through YMCA Employment Services or the government community agencies are free," said Mr. Ibrahim.

Give us the scoop: Are you a career counsellor? Write a note in the comments area of this story or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com and let us know what you would tell others who are interested in the profession.

Want to read more stories from our Salaries Series? Find more here.

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