Higher education careers advisers work with students who are studying at university, providing them with advice, information and guidance on their various career options.
Essentially, these guys aim to help students make major decisions about their future career path and plan how they are going to achieve their objectives.
Higher education careers advisers may also provide more specific practical advice with regards to interview technique, CV advice and cover letters.
These careers advice professionals tend to be employed by commercial organisations as well as academic institutions. Advisers are also employed by local and regional authorities, or public and private organisations that are members of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS).
If you enter this profession, you’ll be working with people on an individual basis or in group sessions, conducting discussions with students to ascertain their interests, passions, skills and talents.
You’ll then be responsible for suggesting possible career choices and advising them on the academic and extra-curricular requirements which will provide them with the right foundation for entering their chosen field.
Group advisory sessions may cover general advice topics, such as preparing for face-to-face and telephone interviews, application tests and assessment centres. You may also provide students with valuable insights into different recruitment procedures, such as giving presentations, filling in application forms, writing covering letters and compiling a winning CV.
As well as providing face-to-face advice, you will be responsible for distributing various helpful resources to students, such as brochures, emails, newsletters and links to careers advice websites, such as AllAboutLaw and AllAboutCareers!
Furthermore, you might be tasked with organising careers events, such as talks and presentations by inspiring industry professionals and careers fairs.
Higher education careers advisers don’t just work with students; they also liaise with alumni and compile information about their career paths after graduation. They may also carry out independent research relating to the graduate careers market and liaise with companies and organisations to help inform students about various job and work experience opportunities.
Salary & benefits
Starting salaries for higher education careers advisers may range from £25,000 to £35,000, while senior advisers can earn salaries ranging between £35,000 and £50,000.
However, your potential earnings will entirely depend on your location and the type of employer that you work for.
Work is typically office-based for careers advisers employed in academic and government organisations, while private sector advisers may travel across campuses, depending on the remit and scope of their job. You may occasionally work in lecture halls and seminar rooms too!
Graduates across all disciplines are eligible to apply for these positions. Obtaining the postgraduate Qualification in Careers Guidance (QCG) can also be useful for higher education advisers, although this is not actually necessary for finding employment.
In fact, many higher education careers advisers start their careers and study for the qualification part-time while they are training on-the-job.
To thrive in this profession, you will also need fantastic communication skills, patience, a positive attitude and the ability to provide meaningful and practical advice.
One thing to note is that it’s very rare for fresh graduates to enter this line of work, as most employers prefer candidates with more life experience and a professional background in another line of work.
Training & progression
The majority of training is provided in-house and is likely to involve both on-the-job activities and formal training sessions. External training programmes run by AGCAS or other related bodies may also be undertaken as part of the initial training.
Promotion into managerial and team leader roles will depend on the organisational hierarchy, your professional experience and performance assessments.
As you progress, it’s likely that you’ll move in to a senior adviser role, or perhaps even become the head of a specialist careers advice department. Specialist careers advice refers to subject-based counselling, e.g. careers in engineering, media or scientific research etc.
Freelance work is also a viable option for careers advisers with a significant amount of experience.