Many careers consultants work on a freelance or self-employed basis. However, some salaried consultants are employed by large companies, consultancy firms with an HR focus, training and development organisations and industry-specific professional bodies.
These experts provide career-specific advice to individual clients who are usually experienced professionals, rather than graduates or students.
They help people who are looking for advice on making a career change; professionals who are looking to obtain additional academic and professional qualifications that are required for career advancement; and people who are recovering from layoffs or redundancies.
They offer expert insights into the entrepreneurial and business requirements for clients looking to work on their own or start up their own businesses.
They will carry out a range of tests and assessments, such as skills evaluations, psychometric tests and assessments of individual working styles, before making conclusions and offering helpful careers advice and guidance. They may also provide more specific practical advice on interview technique, CV creation and job search methods.
Salary & benefits
Salaries for more junior consultants can range between £20,000 and £30,000, while senior consultants’ salaries range between £30,000 and £50,000.
Once you’ve gained a significant amount of experience and take on managerial responsibilities, you could earn up to £75,000 a year.
Freelance consultants may work on a retainer basis or may charge an hourly or daily rate, which means making between £100 and £500 a day.
Careers consultants tend to work around eight to ten hours on a daily basis and overtime work on holidays and weekends is very rare.
Travel is frequent for consultants working independently or salaried personnel working in large corporations with multiple offices across the country.
If you pursue the freelance route, your working life can be fairly flexible. However, your professional responsibilities may have to fit around the work schedules of your clients.
A degree in human resources, personnel management, psychology or another related discipline can be useful. However, to establish yourself in this line of work and build your reputation, it’s advisable to obtain one or two of the following qualifications:
- The Qualification in Career Guidance (QCG)
- The SVQ or NVQ Level Four in Advice and Guidance
- A postgraduate qualification in career guidance, offered by a range of universities in association with the Career Development Institute (CDI).
Training & progression
Careers consultant jobs are usually taken up by professionals with prior work and management experience and, as such, the amount of extra training required is minimal. However, you can top up your skills and stay on-the-ball by attending industry seminars and workshops.
Membership of organisations such as the Career Development Institute and obtaining ‘chartered status’ from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) can increase the market value and growth prospects for career consultants.
Other factors that affect individual career progression include your overall experience, your client base and your on-the-job performance.