Progressing your career is never an easy concept, as you may suddenly feel overwhelmed at the idea of where to start, the extra steps to take, or how much extra knowledge or training you’re going to need. There is no right or wrong answer for career progression, as this should be based on your own personal goals, strategies, and what the ideal career would look like to you.
When it comes to progressing a career in counseling, there is a huge amount of potential there. Whether it’s returning to education, specializing in a different counseling area, or seeking to reach the top of your field, there is always room to maneuver in this particular industry.
Are You Ready for Career Progression? 4 Signs You’re Looking for More
If you’ve been happily enjoying a position within your counseling career for a long while now, maybe progression isn’t something you thought of before now. Maybe you’re not even sure if it’s exactly what you’re looking for. There are, however, certain signs that you might be looking for more when it comes to your career.
It’s important to understand that wanting more or being unsatisfied with the current level of your position doesn’t mean that you no longer like your job; if anything, it means you’re passionate about your counseling career and want it to continue for the long-term, getting as much as possible as you can out of your chosen field.
Here are four signs that you’ve reached a career point where you might be looking for more.
- You Need More Money
It might be that your situation has changed or your lifestyle has changed, and you’ve found you now need a higher wage than previously on to live comfortably. Or, maybe you just have aspirations of earning more money. This can be enough incentive to want to further your career and earn more money at a higher level. An example of this might be gaining a higher qualification to broaden your employability and wage bracket, like gaining a masters in school counseling.
2. You Need a Change
Perhaps you simply realize that you don’t want to continue the way you have been and you’d like something to change with your career. Something which sparks more interest and passion in you and allows you to alter your routine.
3. You’ve Gained Everything You Can Out of Your Current Position
You may have qualified in a certain area of counseling or worked within a specific role, and feel as though you’ve reached the end of your goals for what you wanted to achieve with that. Perhaps there’s nothing new to be learned or change in your current role, leading you to wonder about the next step in terms of experience or qualifications. This can be why many people look to gain a higher level of education to further their understanding, such as school counselors seeking a masters in school counseling at the next level.
4. You’re Seeking Out New Opportunities
Perhaps you’ve started browsing for other counseling opportunities out there or paying more attention to the professional world around you. You might prick your ears up at the sound of promotion opportunities or internal progression. However, if you’ve noticed you’re paying more attention to potential changes you could have in your career, it’s a sign you’re looking for more, or your priorities have changed.
8 Tips for Progressing Your Counseling Career
Whether you’re ready to start progressing your counseling career or simply making plans for progression down the line when you’re ready, here are eight key tips to get you started.
- Set Your Goals and Make a Specific Plan
Any big career change should always be planned with goals in mind. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to sit down and plan out your goals in relation to why you’re looking to progress or change your counseling career and what you’re hoping to gain. This should encompass both short- and long-term goals to help you plan for every eventuality.
Setting goals will help you understand what you need to do to reach them, step by step and daily. Making a plan like this with goals in mind will make sure you don’t waste time with extra steps, effort, or work that won’t bring you closer to your goals.
Even if you don’t have very specific goals in mind, starting to think about what you’re looking to achieve, even on a short-term basis, can be a big help to get you started. It’s a good idea to evaluate where you are now and what you’d like to build upon. For instance, if you’re already qualified and working as a school counselor, what would career progression mean to you? Would it mean furthering your education with a masters in school counseling? Or would it mean looking for a different position in a different institution or perhaps working with different students?
- Further Your Knowledge or Expertise
A lot of progression can be based on your level of expertise. If you can learn more and seek further knowledge, you should take it if you wish to progress. This doesn’t have to mean officially qualified, either; this could simply be expanding your own knowledge in your own time, such as through spare time reading, research, and your own efforts.
Furthering your own knowledge in this way, such as researching counseling in general, understanding counseling at a higher level, or just taking an interest as a pastime, can help you get a firmer grasp of the field you’re in. In addition, it can help you to understand better what you do and any opportunities which arise in the future.
Maybe you’re curious about other counseling fields, like those with a master’s in school counseling, and would like to read up about it to get a better understanding. This can also set you up well if you decide to make a relevant career switch.
- Gain a Higher Qualification
One of the best steps you can take if you’re looking to progress personally, academically, and professionally is gaining a higher qualification. As a counselor, you’ll no doubt have a base degree that you’ve attained for your career, but you can take that one step further by gaining a masters. An example of this can be a masters in school counseling.
By gaining a higher qualification, you can learn more about your chosen counseling field, develop your experience and knowledge, and open up more career opportunities. There may even be a specific higher role you’re looking for, which you know requires a masters degree.
Alternatively, perhaps you’re looking to gain a masters degree in a different category of counseling, wanting to build on your foundation counseling degree. For example, you could currently work in general counseling but look to gain a masters in school counseling to switch up your options. Some masters degrees may require any type of bachelor’s degree, or some may require a specific base degree to work upon, so it all depends on what you want and what you’re looking for.
Gaining a masters degree in a different counseling category can be ideal for a career role switch and developing your professional skills.
- Specialize in a Different Counseling Area (or More Than One)
You may want to look into an initial qualification or degree in a completely different counseling area, if not a masters degree. This could help to complement the degree you already have, or maybe you’d like to seek out qualifications in many different counseling areas to broaden your horizons and develop your learning.
This all depends on how much dedication you have and time you can commit, but specializing in at least one other counseling area, whether it’s a masters — like masters in school counseling — or just a base degree, can mean that you open up many new career opportunities and search for a higher number of new roles if you’re looking to make a job role change.
Even if you’re not looking to make a job change, specializing in another area can still broaden your skills, help you progress, and give you something new to focus on if you’re feeling a little stagnant.
- Make a Complete Switch
You might have realized that you do want to make a complete change. This could be because your current counseling role isn’t inspiring you anymore, or you simply don’t want to do it anymore. If there is another area of counseling you would like to go into, you can aim to make a complete switch to progress your career (and your passion, too).
Making a complete switch may take time and a lot of motivation, but making a switch to another counseling role when you already have a particular counseling qualification will be a lot easier than making a career switch into a completely different field. The switch you want to make may not even be that far apart. Perhaps you have a masters in school counseling but want to make the switch into young people’s mental health, and thereby the change won’t be too drastic.
- Consider Becoming Your Own Boss
Perhaps your idea of progression is having more control and freedom over your working routine. In this regard, seeking to become your own boss with your own counseling clients can be a great career move if you’re interested in progressing with your own business.
There are many things to think about when seeking to become your own boss in the counseling field. This can include:
- Having enough finances to launch a new business
- Having business premises if you’re looking to open an office or clinic
- Proper planning for marketing and launching your business
- The type of clients you would like to work with
- Whether you’re looking to operate in your own location, or if you’d like to work on a consultancy basis where you travel to various clients
- Whether you’d like to work within a specific building or location, such as a clinic or hospital, but be stationed there as your own boss rather than being employed there
- Or, Speak to Your Employer or Superior About Progression Opportunities
If you’re looking to progress but don’t have any aspirations about being your own boss, you may need to look into new opportunities with your current employer. Especially if you know you still enjoy working where you already do, you should seek out new opportunities where you’re already based.
You need to make yourself available and make it known that you’re looking for progression opportunities. Informing your employee that you’re seeking the potential for new responsibilities or progression opportunities will always help. You could even arrange a formal chat or a performance review as the ideal time to talk about your future and what you can expect.
This is also important because it gives you a chance to understand better whether there is a future where you currently work. For example, if you initiate a progression conversation only to discover that there will be no promotional opportunities or any new potential for learning new skills, this can help you reevaluate your position. Do you need to look for a new employer or a new company that does offer progression in your field?
If your current employer has promotional or progressive opportunities, then understand what you need to do next and plan your goals.
- Find a Mentor
If there is someone you know in your personal life, someone within your place of work, or a professional individual you can liaise with in any capacity, this can be extremely helpful for your career. For example, finding a mentor within counseling who has gained the same goals you’re looking to achieve can give you something to focus on and help you understand the next step, such as if you’re working in education counseling and you want to speak to someone who has gained a masters in school counseling.
Use these eight tips if you’re looking to progress your counseling career today.