Popular Materials for Training Career Counselors

By Debra Russ


In the last twenty years that I have been engaged in the career education field, I have found that remaining up-to-date with current counseling resources has become one of my most important skills. As a counselor education student, I was introduced to works such as Brown's text, Career Information, Career Counseling, and Career Development, computer-assisted career guidance systems like DISCOVER, government sources such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook, and publications from the National Career Development Association. I used many of the ideas and resources contained in these works as a practicing career counselor. Now as a counselor educator preparing to teach a career course for literally the thirteenth time, I am wondering if anyone still teaches and uses these items.

Finding the perfect career education material can be a daunting task given the plethora of choices available to counselors. Counselor educators can be one of the best resources for finding materials to use in career counseling because they often receive new materials from publishers to review and utilize in their classrooms.

So what are the favorite books, videos/DVDs, and assessment instruments used in counselor education programs? To find out, over three hundred counselor educators who are listed in the National Career Development Association Career Counselor Education Directory were polled to ask: "What texts, materials, and assessments do you require counselors-in-training to use for your career development course?" Over twenty percent of the instructors responded to this email and reported their favorite texts, resources, videos/DVDs, websites, and assessment instruments for teaching future career counselors.

Use of Text Books and Online Resources

Text books appear to be the primary source of information for teaching career counseling. Every professor named at least one text. By far, the two most popular texts are Zunker's Career Counseling: A Holistic Approach and Niles and Harris-Bowlsbey's Career Development Interventions in the 21st Century. These texts along with most of the noted books tend to have multiple editions. For example, Zunker's Career Counseling: A Holistic Approach is in its seventh printing. Duane Brown's Career Information, Career Counseling, and Career Development is in its ninth edition.

The policy statements of the National Career Development Association were the most noted required resource readings. Statements such as the Ethical Guidelines and the Career Counselor Competencies have been in place for a decade and are easily accessible on the website.

The theme of using materials that have remained a constant in the field can be found in the resources for learning career information and the techniques for utilizing the data. Government sponsored works such as the O'NETand the Occupational Outlook Handbook are utilized mostly in their electronic format. The online versions of works such as DISCOVER and the Self-Directed Search are often used to teach counseling skills. Course instruction is also supplemented by videos/DVDs such as Savickas' Specific Treatment for Specific Populations: Career Counseling and Greenwood, Amundson, and Niles' Career Counseling: Work in Progress.

The following list contains the items most required by career education instructors. The list is separated into five sections: textbooks, resources, videos/DVDs, websites, and assessment instruments. The items are ranked ordered according from most used to least required.



Zunker, V.G. (2006). Career counseling: A holistic approach (7th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA:Brooks/Cole.

Niles, S.G., & Harris-Bowlsbey, J. (2005). Career development interventions in the 21st century (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall.

Sharf, R.S. (2006). Applying career development theory to counseling (4th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Brown, D. (2007). Career information, career counseling, and career development (9th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Osborn, D.S., & Zunker, V.G. (2006). Using assessment results for career development (7th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Anderson, P., & Vandehey, M. (2006). Career counseling and development in a global economy. Boston: Hougton Mifflin/Lahaska.

Peterson, N., & Gonzalez, R.C. (2000). Career counseling models for diverse populations. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning.

Amundson, N.E., Harris-Bowlsbey, J.H., & Niles, S.G. (2005). Essential elements of career counseling: Processes and techniques. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice-Hall.

Liptak, J.J. (2001). Treatment planning in career counseling. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.





National Career Development Association policy statements on the following topics:

Ethical Standards (2007)


Career Counseling Competencies  (1997)


Guidelines for the Use of the Internet for Provision of Career Information and Planning Services (1997)


Policies and Procedures

Videos / DVDs

Savickas, M. Series II: Specific treatment for specific populations: Career Counseling

Greenwood, A., Amundson, N., & Niles, S.G. (2006). Career Counseling : Work in progress. DVD/ISBN: 0-13-192001-4.

Lazarus, M. (1993). Life's Work : Four approaches to career counseling.





Assessment Instruments

Self-Directed Search

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Strong Interest Inventory


I found the results of this survey reassuring in that it appears that many of the resources that I utilized as a counselor-in-training are still popular classroom tools. The most widely used materials appear to be updated regularly to offer reliable and accurate information. The survey did not answer some questions that are worth further study. For example, what teaching strategies do professors employ to maximize learning the materials? Also, what efforts are made to instill appreciation for considering client characteristics that impact the selection of resources? Finally, I would like to know if the choice of teaching materials differs depending on the content of the course. For example, is there a difference in required texts between master level courses and doctoral level courses?

Overall this survey serves as a reminder that while career development is an evolving field, many of the fundamental building blocks have remained in tact over decades. However, new knowledge, research, and resources are always needed to best serve a wide range of trainees and clients, while also helping to advance our profession.

Debra Preston Russ (druss@uaa.alaska.edu) received her Ph.D. in counseling from Virginia Tech. She holds credentials as a Licensed Professional Counselor and a National Certified Career Counselor. Dr. Russ is currently employed at the University of Alaska Anchorage as an associate professor and coordinator of counselor education.

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