Career counseling or career guidance includes a wide variety of professional activities which help people deal with career-related challenges. Career counselors work with adolescents seeking to explore career options, experienced professionals contemplating a career change, parents who want to return to the world of work after taking time to raise their child, or people seeking employment. Career counselling is also offered in various settings, including in groups and individually, in person or by means of digital communication.
Several approaches have been undertaken to systemize the variety of professional activities related to career guidance and counseling. In the most recent attempt, the Network for Innovation in Career Guidance and Counselling in Europe (NICE) - a consortium of 45 European institutions of higher education in the field of career counseling - has agreed on a system of professional roles for guidance counselors. Each of these five roles is seen as an important facet of the career guidance and counselling profession. Career counselors performing in any of these roles are expected to behave professionally, e.g. by following ethical standards in their practice. The NICE Professional Roles (NPR) are:
The Career Educator "supports people in developing their own career management competences"
The Career Information & Assessment Expert "supports people in assessing their personal characteristics and needs, then connecting them with the labour market and education systems"
The Career Counsellor "supports individuals in understanding their situations, so as to work through issues towards solutions"
The Programme & Service Manager "ensures the quality and delivery of career guidance and counselling organisations' services"
The Social Systems Intervener & Developer "supports clients (even) in crisis and works to change systems for the better"