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Watch out for career scams: how to discern what counselors, coaches, and consultants actually do.

Counselors. Coaches. Consultants. As the search for work intensifies, more of these services are cropping up, leaving many desperate job seekers confused. So, buyer, beware. In many cases, titles don't explain much, particularly since these advisors often provide similar services. So where can you turn for professional career advice? Here's how to make the distinction:

Career Counselors must meet a minimum education requirement (a master's degree) and have to be licensed by the state. Many also seek additional certification from bodies, such as the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), which require applicants to have at least three years of full-time, career-development work experience. Only California, Nevada, Hawaii, and Minnesota don't require licensing, although California does have a registry and a law is in the works. New York's licensing law, enacted last year, hasn't taken effect yet. Working face-to-face with a client, a career counselor can offer a number of services from administering career-related diagnostic assessments to supporting a job search with resume tips and job market analysis. A career counselor can usually make a referral to a therapist equipped to deal with the emotional issues a job loss might raise. To find a certified, licensed career counselor in your area, visit NBCC's Website at or call 800-398-5389. Licensed counselors typically charge between $65 and $100 an hour. There are some cases in which counseling is covered by healthcare providers.

Career Consultants often adopt the consultant title because many say the term "counseling" offends some clients. Consultants offer services similar to career counselors and charge roughly the same fee. Anyone with expertise in an industry or profession can become a consultant, but without a license, it may be difficult to offer certain diagnostic assessments. You can find career consultants in your local telephone directory.

Career Coaching is a relatively new field that doesn't require licensing. After an assessment, these advisors promise to deliver strategic suggestions to move your career to the next level. Many coaches become certified by the International Coach Federation, which requires its members to take a course for certification, but there are no educational requirements. "You can be a high school graduate and call yourself a coach," says Susan W. Miller, a master career counselor in Los Angeles.

She recommends selecting a certified career counselor who has added coaching to his or her practice. Coaches typically require a commitment of three months. You can find a coach at the International Coach Federation's Website www

Of course, the professional you choose will depend on your personal career needs and goals. Here's what to consider:

* Know what you want. Nancy Collamer, a career consultant in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, suggests a self examination. Do you need targeted problem solving or continuing support? Are you looking to improve your job performance or have you been out of work for several months and need to pinpoint what you're doing wrong?

* Ask for credentials. Look for someone with a strong educational background or expertise in your specific industry. If possible, get a recommendation from someone you know. "I would want somebody coaching me who has some real insider knowledge rather than somebody who learned it in a textbook," Collamer says.

No matter which advisor you choose, look for one who is certified in your state or who has obtained certification from an industry group. That way, "you can assume that they have met certain requirements for credentialing," says Susan Eubanks of the NBCC. You'll also have some recourse through a state or association should something go wrong.
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Title Annotation:Making Connections
Author:Egodigwe, Laura
Publication:Black Enterprise
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2003
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