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Federal Employment and Professional Counselors

Within the federal government, job positions are categorized in one of the occupational series established by the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM). There is no occupational series for professional counselors, despite the fact that occupational series exist for other professions with similar education and training. Without a dedicated occupational series, counselors employed by the federal government can only be employed in generic series, which limits opportunities for hiring and advancement.

For years, the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) has advocated for the development of an occupational series for professional counselors. Creation of an occupational series for counselors is integral to federal government employment and national parity. The lack of an occupational series forces counselors who work for the federal government to be employed in:

  • Generic series with no professional identity.
  • Established nonclinical series lacking independent practice rights with limited pay and promotion.
  • Social work or psychologist series that are not available to most counselors and misrepresent their training and education.

Latest Developments

July 2014, the Senate Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations incorporated language in its FY 2015 report urging the creation of an occupation series for mental health counselors.