Working in counselling and advice with GCSEs (or similar)

Before you gain experience as an adviser, you could do reception or admin work for a counselling or advice service.

This will give you contact with clients, without having to advise or counsel them. Alternatively, you could work on an information desk. There are also telephone advice services working from call centres. Voluntary work is a good way to gain experience.

Example jobs

Mobility team support
Providing admin support for a guide dogs team, welcoming visually-impaired clients to the service.

Centre receptionist
Welcoming clients, answering the phone, giving information, referring clients to a counsellor or to another service.

Helpline support volunteer
Carrying out admin and IT tasks to support the listening volunteers.

Volunteer receptionist
Welcoming clients, booking appointments, giving information about the service.

Switchboard volunteer (part-time)
Taking initial calls from children, young people and adults, referring them on to a counsellor.

Approximate pay levels

Figures supplied as a guide only

To gain experience, you may need to work as an unpaid volunteer.

Pay level graph

Typical working conditions

  • You will usually work indoors.
  • You will have contact with members of the public, who may be upset or distressed.
  • Voluntary work will be unpaid (organisations usually offer travel expenses and refreshments) and is usually part-time.

Qualifications needed

To be able to help people with their issues, you usually need experience (either voluntary or paid). Taking short courses in basic counselling skills can be helpful. For reception/admin or information work, you may need GCSEs, including maths and English. You need to be caring and able to deal sensitively with people who are upset.

Career path

You could move on to train as an adviser, either paid or voluntary. Many people train and work as volunteers before being able to find paid work. You can do this part-time, to fit round paid work elsewhere. You could specialise in working with a particular issue or client group. You could move on to work in a different organisation to widen your experience.

Useful links

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Law Centres Network

Law Centres defend the legal rights of people who can't afford a lawyer

ChildLine

A free 24-hour counselling service for children and young people