Federal Occupational Classification

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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.

2020

S. 785, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, is signed into law. It contains a provision directing the VA to work with the Office of Personnel Management to create an occupational series for mental health counselors. This series would open up new opportunities for mental health counselors within the federal government.

2017

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) sent a letter to the Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management urging the creation of occupational series for counselors and MFTs.

2017

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced S. 992 that incudes language requesting a timeline for the creation of an occupational series for counselors and MFTs.

2016

NBCC spearheads inclusion of language in three veterans bills, S. 1676, S. 1203, and S. 2921, to urge the creation of the series. NBCC includes similar language in defense proposals.

2016

NBCC works with Sen. Jon Tester (D‐MT) and several appropriations subcommittees to obtain language directing OPM to move forward with the Series

2016

VA submits a letter to NBCC stating that it would not be prioritizing the counselor/MFT Series.

2015

OPM reports to Congress that it was going to meet with the VA about the Series.

2014

NBCC secures language in the FY15 Consolidated Appropriations Act directing OPM to report on the status of the Series.

2014

OPM postpones the Series indefinitely.

2011

NBCC meets with OPM to urge the creation of an Occupational Series.

2011

At the urging of NBCC, the VA requests that OPM create an Occupational Series for counselors and MFTs.

2009

NBCC meets with the VA Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration to encourage the creation of VA qualification standards and a federal Occupational Series.

2007

NBCC submits a letter to OPM requesting the creation of an Occupational Series for counselors.


For years, 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.

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