How Can You Find Local Help?

Self-help is not for everyone. You may do better working with a trained career professional. A local career counselor can evaluate your interests, abilities, and values and then guide you toward your best career choice. Career professionals can also provide emotional support and good local information for job hunting.

How to find a career counselor

Word of mouth is the preferred way to find a professional helper. Ask family, friends, and colleagues if they can recommend anyone. If you already have a relationship with a therapist, he or she may be able to make a referral to a career specialist. If you are in school (or even just thinking about attending school), you may be able to get low-cost career help at that educational institution.

Two kinds of professional helpers have the best training and background for someone making a career choice: career counselors and vocational psychologists. Try googling ‘Career & Vocational Counselors’ along with the name of your town. Interview those professionals over the phone or in person—they should feel comfortable talking about their services and fees. Or go to the National Career Development Association’s homepage, where you’ll find a Career Help locator in the upper right hand corner.

Questions to ask

Some “professionals” take a short course and then hammer in their shingle. So it doesn’t hurt to ask if the prospective helper is licensed to practice counseling and/or psychology in your state. Ask specifically about their training in counseling and career development. Or call your state licensing agencies to get the names of licensed career professionals in your city.

If the previous suggestions don’t connect you with a good helping professional, then I’d recommend contacting your local university. Call their Counseling Center or Career Center (or something similarly named) and ask to speak to the director. Tell him or her that you are a creative person in need of career guidance and ask who they could recommend in private practice.

Look until you find someone you like and trust. If money is an issue, then ask whether the counselor has a sliding scale or does any pro bono work. There are capable career professionals in most communities who would be delighted to assist you with making this very important life decision, one that will affect yourself and your family for many years to come.