NACE Logo NACE Center Logo
National Association of Colleges and Employers NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition
mobile menu
  • Primary Focus: Career Coaching vs. Career Counseling

    September 13, 2017 | By NACE Staff

    Organizational Structure
    A career coach works with a client.

    TAGS: operations, coaching, trends and predictions, surveys, benchmarks, spotlight

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    When it comes to career coaching and counseling, coaching is the primary focus regarding the career development of students and the professional development among career services staff, according to results of NACE’s 2016-17 Career Services Benchmark Report for Colleges and Universities.

    Respondents to the benchmark survey used the following definitions to identify the current and future focus of their career services department and staff:

    • Career coaching—Focuses on solutions, insight, and action. It is a positive approach that focuses on a client’s capabilities, helping him or her to practice and hone skills needed in the job search. Coaching is active, focused, positive, and outcome-oriented.
    • Career counseling—Focuses on establishing a therapeutic and confidential alliance with clients using core counseling techniques requiring adherence to all state and federal regulations related to counseling.

    Overall, 81 percent of respondents report that career coaching is their primary focus of career development interaction with students, and 80 percent note that coaching is the top focus of professional development of career services staff. (See Figures 1 and 2.) This likely reflects the fact that career coaching and career counseling require different credentials.

    In addition, career coaching remains the future focus among career services operations, with an expected growth of approximately 5 percent. (See Figure 3.)

    Respondents also indicated that professional titles among career services staff are mainly aligned with the coaching focus. (See Figure 4.)

    Data were collected for the 2016-17 Career Services Benchmark Survey Report for Colleges and Universities from September 30, 2016, to January 20, 2017, from NACE member institutions; there were 705 respondents, representing 35.3 percent of all eligible respondents. An executive summary of the 2016-17 Career Services Benchmark Report for Colleges and Universities is available on NACEWeb. Participating members can access the full report through MyNACE.

    Figure 1: Primary Focus of Career Development Interaction With Students, by Carnegie Classification

      Overall Doctoral Master’s Baccalaureate Associate
    R1 R2 R3 M1 M2 M3 A&S Diverse
    % of respondents
    Coaching 80.8% 79.2% 79.4% 77.8% 80.9% 88.2% 89.7% 73.7% 86.7% 72.6%
    Counseling 19.2% 20.8% 20.6% 22.2% 19.1% 11.8% 10.3% 26.3% 13.3% 27.4%
    Source: 2016-17 Career Services Benchmark Survey Report for Colleges and Universities, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 2: Professional Development of Career Services Staff, by Carnegie Classification

      Overall Doctoral Master’s Baccalaureate Associate
    R1 R2 R3 M1 M2 M3 A&S Diverse
    % of respondents
    Coaching 80.4% 79.2% 74.6% 80.6% 79.7% 86.6% 86.2% 77.3% 86.4% 77.4%
    Counseling 19.6% 20.8% 25.4% 19.4% 20.3% 13.4% 13.8% 22.7% 13.6% 22.6%
    Source: 2016-17 Career Services Benchmark Survey Report for Colleges and Universities, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 3: Future Focus of Career Services Operations, by Carnegie Classification  

      Overall Doctoral Master’s Baccalaureate Associate
    R1 R2 R3 M1 M2 M3 A&S Diverse
    % of respondents
    Coaching 85.4% 87.4% 82.3% 77.8% 86.2% 92.6% 86.2% 84.2% 86.7% 80.3%
    Counseling 14.6% 12.6% 17.7% 22.2% 13.8% 7.4% 13.8% 15.8% 13.3% 19.7%
    Source: 2016-17 Career Services Benchmark Survey Report for Colleges and Universities, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 4: Career Services Professional Titles Alignment, by Carnegie Classification  

      Overall Doctoral Master’s Baccalaureate Associate
    R1 R2 R3 M1 M2 M3 A&S Diverse
    % of respondents
    Coaching 64.3% 63.4% 60.3% 66.7% 61.3% 70.6% 67.9% 62.2% 70.5% 62.3%
    Counseling 35.7% 36.6% 39.7% 33.3% 38.7% 29.4% 32.1% 37.8% 29.5% 37.7%
    Source: 2016-17 Career Services Benchmark Survey Report for Colleges and Universities, National Association of Colleges and Employers