Vancouver Career Spotlight: Career Counsellor (Amber Chow)

Vancouver Career Spotlight is an interview-style blog series that features the amazing professionals that live and work in the Greater Vancouver area. Our vision is to showcase the many career opportunities that exist in Vancouver and provide inspiration to the future generation of workers and career changers.

To start off the series… I interviewed myself (I know, exciting). So for anyone curious about what a Career Counsellor does (or in this case, what I do), here you go! Also, because my coaching is more niche, I also talk about what it is like being a career practitioner, in general.


Amber Chow Career Coaching

Tell us about yourself.

I am a Career Exploration Coach & Career Counsellor at Crossroads Career Counselling. I help students and adults uncover their strengths and determine their best-fit careers. Most of my clients are in the Greater Vancouver / Lower Mainland region but we also provide career consultations online with our clients across BC and Canada.

Why did you choose this career path?

I have a passion for helping people and I love talking about careers. I enjoy guiding people and helping them figure out their hidden talents and strengths. I also have a 6-year background in Human Resources Management which gives me an advantage by understanding the hiring and interview process, as well as the different kinds of careers out there.

In terms of how I got here… When I started my program at Simon Fraser University for my Career Development Practitioner Certificate, I was only aware of career practitioners working in schools (mainly high school and post-secondary). I knew I wanted to go the self-employment route eventually, but I was actually quite sold on working in post-secondary one day. That was where I saw I could make the biggest impact by helping students figure out where they wanted to work and land their first job. Instead, my career trajectory changed when I met Jane Keresztes, my dear mentor and founder of Crossroads. Now I get to do what I love – helping students understand their strengths so they can build a successful career that aligns with their personality, interests, and values.

What are your main responsibilities?

As a Career Exploration Coach, I work with clients to determine their best-fit career paths.  I do this by administering a career assessment tool called the TypeFocus and a 1-on-1 career consultation session. We deep-dive into the client’s strengths, interests, values, and personality type. When all of these areas align, we are able to narrow down their top career paths. 

Because I am self-employed, I also spend time on the marketing, finances, and business development at Crossroads. I devote a lot of my time to professional development as well, because the more I learn, the more I can share with my clients.

In a general sense, a career practitioner helps people with career planning, resumes, job search skills, and more. We provide resources and career advice for all types of clients and depending on where we work, we may have additional duties like planning and promoting career networking events, and creating tools for our clients.

What are the opportunities for career growth and advancement? 

For a professional who wants to work in the career development field, I am aware of three main paths:

  1. Government-funded programs (most career practitioners work here).
  2. Academic environment (high school and post-secondary).
  3. Self-employment.

Typically, a career practitioner in an organization would start off assisting the more experienced career practitioners through helping clients with resource navigation and facilitating workshops. Then you might move up to a role where you support clients one-on-one, seeing what programs they qualify for as well as offering support with resumes, cover letters, and other resources. Finally, there is job development where you are matching people with jobs and employers. This is a broad look at what career practitioners do, and there are many different paths and specializations in the field.

What kind of person would like this career? 

I think the kind of person who would like this career is someone who really enjoys helping people succeed. You are the expert for a lot of people who may be struggling in their career, and they are relying on your help to achieve their career goals. A good listener who strives to go above and beyond for people would really excel in this role.

Book a complimentary career chat.

If you are interested in speaking with a professional Career Counsellor, contact us for a complimentary consultation call to see how we can help you achieve your career goals.

What is a common misconception people have about your career field? 

A common misconception I find is that people think career practitioners can fix their problems immediately. Sometimes you can find clarity in one session, but it is likely that you will need multiple sessions for the transformation you are looking for. It is an investment in yourself, but in my opinion, it is a priceless investment that could really change your life for the better.

What school subjects would a person in this career typically excel in?

Because this is a career that is open to professionals from any background, there is no one subject. Everyone brings in their own expertise from their backgrounds. An important skill to learn while in school is strong communication and listening skills, however. Career practitioners communicate with a variety of clients and these clients are not necessarily in the best situations. An empathetic ear goes a long way.

What type of education would you typically need to work in this career? 

Ideally, having a background in the careers or industries that you are helping others in will give you an advantage because you know the environment better. There is also a Career Development Practitioner program for people who want to get the appropriate skills training, which includes courses on career theory, online resources and labour market information, crafting strong resumes, facilitating career workshops, and more.

What are the best programs to get this education?

I did my education and training through Simon Fraser University’s Continuing Studies full-time Career Development Practitioner Certificate program. Usually the people who enroll in Continuing Studies programs have a diploma already. I also have my Bachelor of Commerce from UBC, majoring in Human Resources Management.

As of this date, there are three schools that offer this type of program. The schools are Simon Fraser University, Douglas College, and Langara College. I recommend choosing a program with a practicum component to get some experience (right now only SFU and Langara have this option). Links are in the Resources section at the end of the blog.

What types of organizations would typically hire a career practitioner?

WorkBC and its contractors hire a large majority of career practitioners. Academic institutions like colleges and universities also hire career practitioners, but it is more competitive to land these roles unless you have some years of experience under your belt.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in becoming a career practitioner?

Get some work experience before you pursue a career in helping people to find careers. While it would not be impossible to help someone, having experience in the hiring process, interviewing process, and the different industries you can work in give you a significant advantage when working with clients. Life experience helps in these types of coaching roles.

I hope you enjoyed this little interview I did with myself for our Vancouver Career Spotlight blog. Below are additional resources if you’re interested in researching this career further. Feel free to ask questions in the comments. If you’re interested in seeing if this career is right for you, send us a message here, and let’s help you find a career that aligns with your personality, interests, and goals.


More information about Career Practitioners in BC:

WorkBC – Employment Counsellors (earnings, workforce statistics, related careers, etc.)

Education Programs (in the Greater Vancouver area):

Simon Fraser University | Douglas College | Langara College

Crossroads Career Audit Email Course

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