Each month we take a look at one of the 650 career pathways featured within Indigo. This month we’re exploring the role of a Careers Adviser.

Find out what’s involved in the role from in this excerpt from the career profile on the Indigo Careers module.

So what is a Careers Adviser?

Researching information about job opportunities in different sectors from newspapers, books, the internet or through visits to employers is all part of the role.

You will help people make realistic choices about education, training and work by listening to their ideas, discussing their interests and skills, and providing information on different jobs. Advisory work is often one to one, but you could also work with large groups. Increasingly advice is being delivered over the phone or via email and instant messaging services.

Careers advisers work with young people in schools/colleges, but also with higher education students or adults.


You would normally work 9am–5pm, Monday to Friday but occasional evening work may also be required.


Most of your work is office based, in either a careers centre open to the public or an educational establishment.

Type of work

You will be people-facing, working with young people in schools/colleges, but also with higher education students or adults.

Things to consider

Varied work

The work is varied and can be highly satisfying.

Long hours/overtime

You will work some evenings or weekends to attend school/college parents’ evenings and for careers events.


The job also includes a great deal of administrative work.

Good progression

You could move into a managerial-level post in a careers service, work for a large company as a careers manager.

Travel/work abroad

You may need to travel between different educational establishments and visit employers and training organisations.

Most people have an undergraduate degree

There are two main routes into this profession: the study of the Qualification in Careers Guidance (QCG) or gaining relevant qualifications through work-based study. The QCG is a 1-year full-time or 2-year part-time course that combines academic study with work-based learning and leads to the Postgraduate Diploma in Careers Guidance. You normally need a degree to take this course but applicants with significant and relevant work experience would also be able to follow this route. Relevant degree subjects include social work, counselling and psychology and the general entry requirements for a degree are 2 A levels/3 H grades and 5 GCSEs/National 5s (C or above, or 4 or above in England).

If you go the work-based route you will need to study for either the OCR Level 4 Diploma in Career Information and Advice or the OCR Level 6 Diploma in Career Guidance and Development while working in an organisation that offers advice or guidance services to clients. You may choose to study qualifications such as the City & Guilds Level 3 and 4 NVQ Certificate in Advice and Guidance (3569) as a way of gaining basic sector knowledge before embarking on more formal, specialised training. You do not always need a professional careers qualification to work as a careers adviser in higher education, although most successful candidates do have one. They also often have experience working in careers or have knowledge of their subject from teaching or industry.

You will need a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to work with young people or vulnerable groups.

Top Tip

It is common for people to enter this profession after gaining experience in another field, such as social work or teaching.

Salary progressionCareers Adviser Salary Progression

Starting salaries range from £20,000 to £21,000 a year. With experience and qualifications salaries can increase to £22,000–£27,500. As a senior manager, you could earn around £35,000. Salaries in London are often higher.

Click here to explore the full library of over 650 career profiles, including multimedia content and LMI data for students to interpret and discuss.