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Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre

Careers Guidance


Although not a prerequisite, degrees and or relevant experience in social work, youth work and teaching and related areas may be advantageous. It is possible to enter without a degree, however postgraduate qualifications such as the Qualification in Careers Guidance (QCG), may increase the chances of attaining a relevant role and can reduce the amount of training required. There are a variety of roles within careers guidance, including careers consultancy and adult, further and higher education careers adviser.

The Work

There is an overview of the Social Care sector on the Prospects website.

The following occupational profiles come from Prospects too and provide an idea of the type of work available in this area. They have been written and researched by staff working within careers services across the country. They contain a lot of useful information that will help you with your initial research. These are just a sample, you can look for more on the Prospects website.

Example Roles

Careers Adviser
Higher Education Careers Adviser

How to get a job

Work experience

Your chances of being accepted on a postgraduate careers guidance course or attaining a training position are greatly increased if you can demonstrate that you have relevant experience. If you do not have sufficient guidance experience, you could consider relevant voluntary work or employment in a related field (e.g. education, community work, youth work) to develop the necessary background you will need in working with individuals and groups.

Work experience opportunities are rarely advertised in this career area. For this reason, you should apply speculatively to appropriate education institutions (housing careers guidance services) as well as independent guidance services. You can find the details of employers to target by going to the Career Development Institute or the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services websites. Both organisations are professional bodies specific to careers guidance and consequently are a good source of information. Use online directories such as the Yellow Pages to identify careers guidance organisations. You should start applying as early as possible to maximise your chances of attaining a placement.

Alternatively try to gain as much experience as possible working with the client group you are interested in; this is an effective way to indicate your enthusiasm and knowledge of working with a particular type of client. Careers Advisers tend to work broadly with adults, young people (schools and colleges) and university students but there is scope for greater specialism (e.g. special educational needs, young offenders). Volunteering at youth and community centres or play schemes is a means of developing your experience of working with young people. Look at the schemes available through Durham University's Student Community Action and resources in our information room on gaining work experience.


Relevant Employers

Sources of vacancies

Careers Guidance is available through a number of sources to both adults and young people in the UK. Opportunities are advertised centrally (refer to the job sites below) but also through individual providers, some of which are outlined below.

The majority of the work is within publically funded agencies:

National Careers Service 

Northern Ireland Careers Service

Skills Development Scotland

Careers Wales


Services are offered in colleges, universities, schools and community settings. Other careers guidance work is carried out in recruitment agencies, private practice, the voluntary sector and in commercial companies. Independent careers development agencies also exist (especially in the South and specifically London)

Some of the strongest websites for finding vacancies in this career area are:

Career Development Institute

  • There is a wide range of opportunities within Careers Guidance especially within the 13-19 age range
  • Opportunities advertised are for across the whole of the UK
  • New opportunities are added regularly
  • The website is free to use
  • As well as vacancies there is some useful additional information about jobs and training in this career area
  • You can search by area of the country
  • The website comes from the Institute of Careers Guidance and opportunities are advertised here that you might not find elsewhere

Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services

  • What information can be found on the website
  • Opportunities are only within Higher Education
  • Opportunities advertised are for across the whole of the UK
  • New opportunities are added regularly
  • The website is free to use
  • As well as vacancies there is some useful additional information about jobs and training in this career area
  • The website comes from the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services and opportunities are advertised here that you might not find elsewhere

  • Excellent resource if you are considering careers advisory positions in the Higher Education sector
  • Occasional 'trainee' positions advertised



A list of relevant postgraduate qualifications is available on the Institute of Careers Guidance website. Although postgraduate qualifications are not necessary for entry, the QCG (qualification in careers guidance) and other qualifications in social work or youth work can reduce the training needed for full qualification. The QCG is available full time, part time and through distance learning and the vast majority of people who take it go on to employment in careers work, many as Personal Advisers with Connexions. Most QCG students are self-funded but some take out professional and career development loans, and some are sponsored by Connexions or other careers companies. Sponsored places are also occasionally available through the Department for Children, Schools and Families; individual course providers will provide more details. Students studying in Scotland may be eligible for an award from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland.

In respect of careers advisory work in the higher education sector, AGCAS (Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services) deliver postgraduate qualifications in Career Education, Information and Guidance in HE (CEIGHE). These qualifications are available to anybody working in an HE careers context and present a viable alternative to the QCG as a means of training professionally to deliver careers guidance. It is not unusual for universities to recruit individuals with relevant professional experience (e.g. HR consultancy) with a view to putting them through aspects of the CEIGHE qualification. Occasionally HE institutions will recruit 'Trainee Careers Advisers'; this could be a graduate or someone currently working within a careers service or another relevant environment (e.g. university, college, young persons centre etc).

Professional Bodies

Professional bodies represent practitioners working within specific sectors. They play an integral role in professional development and training and are often a source of graduate vacancies. For anyone with a specific career role in mind it is very important to establish what support, information and opportunities are available through the respective professional body. In certain cases it can be very advantageous to join a professional body as a student member. 

 For this career area, professional bodies include:

The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS )  

The professional association for higher education careers practitioners, advertising training events and conferences, job vacancies and information from national and regional groups.

 The Career Development Institute - in 2012 the professional associations then involved in supporting professionals within the careers, education, information, advice, guidance and development (CEIAGD) sector came together to form this single, UK-wide professional organisation.