Careers information officers identify, analyse and assess the suitability and value of information relevant to a careers service or careers information unit.

They develop strategies for information planning, procurement, provision and management to meet current and anticipated needs, while considering budgeting constraints.

Careers information officers provide a service to internal service users, such as current and former students and work colleagues, as well as to external users, such as other organisations and clients.

They may also be responsible for other areas within the service, which are not necessarily information-related, for example:

  • overseeing quality standards issues;
  • coordinating, organising and administering general training;
  • liaising with clients about employment and training opportunities;
  • planning and hosting events for the service's users.

Responsibilities

Individual tasks vary depending on the size and type of the employing organisation, but in general, responsibilities can include:

  • identifying, assessing, selecting and ordering relevant information resources in hard copy and electronic formats;
  • organising, classifying, maintaining and storing information, often using computer applications for access and retrieval;
  • searching for information, using hard copy and electronic formats;
  • answering information enquiries from service users and work colleagues;
  • providing information support to colleagues within the service and to outside associates;
  • marketing, advertising and publicising the service;
  • planning and giving presentations and information unit tours;
  • representing the service at internal and external events;
  • collecting and analysing data for evaluation of the service;
  • writing reports and publications;
  • marketing in-house and other materials;
  • planning, designing and supervising IT and website provision;
  • liaising with other information providers;
  • planning and controlling the information-provision budget;
  • collecting, collating and presenting statistical data;
  • supervising and providing training for information and support staff.

Salary

  • Starting salaries for careers information officers typically range from £18,000 to £22,000.
  • With experience at a senior level, salaries are in the region of £20,000 to £30,000.

Salaries in higher education (HE) vary greatly as posts may be graded as either clerical or administrative. Salaries in private careers services depend on the size of the service and range of managerial responsibilities undertaken.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours are typically 9am to 5pm, with the possibility of some extra hours.

Evening and weekend hours are becoming more common as services try to match their opening hours to the needs of the clients they serve.

What to expect

  • The work tends to be office-based, working mainly with other staff and clients, rather than working alone.
  • Jobs are available throughout the country.
  • There is little opportunity for self-employment and freelance work, although part-time work and career breaks are possible.
  • Some tasks, such as updating information and gathering statistics, may be cyclical and performed at the same times each year.
  • Interruptions throughout the working day and having a number of varied ongoing tasks are common features.
  • Management responsibilities and constant availability to users may result in average to high stress levels.
  • Manual lifting may be required in some services to deal with bulk deliveries (such as employer directories) or reorganisation of the unit's information.
  • Travel within a working day may be required, particularly where there are a number of separate campus or service sites.
  • Overnight absences from home and overseas work or travel are uncommon, except for when involved in professional activities that require liaison with colleagues nationally or internationally.
  • Training will often require travel, but only on an occasional basis.

Qualifications

This area of work is open to all graduates, but a degree in librarianship or information science/management, accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), may improve your chances.

Entry may be possible with a HND or foundation degree only, though a degree is increasingly preferred in most employing organisations.

You may be able to enter the profession with other qualifications, such as the Level 4 NVQ Diploma in Advice and Guidance (SVQ Level 4 Advice and Guidance), if you also have the relevant skills and experience.

You do not need a postgraduate qualification but an MA or MSc in librarianship or information science/management may help with competition for jobs. For details of accredited degrees and Masters see CILIP Accredited Qualifications.

Search postgraduate courses in information science.

Skills

You will need to show:

  • the ability to deal effectively with people, using tact, courtesy and patience;
  • good organisational and analytical skills;
  • the capacity to work in a logical and methodical way;
  • excellent oral communication skills to respond effectively to a range of enquiries;
  • intellectual ability - breadth of knowledge, a retentive memory and the skills to think laterally;
  • information retrieval and research skills, using hard copy and electronic formats;
  • effective writing skills for communicating information in a variety of different mediums and to a range of audiences;
  • good IT skills, including knowledge of web applications.

Design skills for hard copy publications and the web, and knowledge of publishing are also increasingly important.

Work experience

It is useful to have pre-entry experience in library, information or guidance work. Marketing or research experience is relevant as well, particularly for work in private careers services.

Voluntary work or work shadowing at your university or local private careers service may be advantageous and will provide a useful insight into the range of skills required and activities involved in careers information work.

Competition is keen for all posts, but especially for those open to new graduates. In some cases, entry at a lower level, e.g. as an information assistant, may be necessary before you can secure an information officer post.

Employers

Employment may be in any organisation with a careers information service or unit, particularly:

  • careers consultancies;
  • careers publishers;
  • careers software houses and website providers;
  • government departments;
  • private careers services;
  • recruitment and employment agencies;
  • university and college careers services.

The size of the organisation may have an impact on certain aspects of the job, such as the amount of routine 'housekeeping' tasks, supervision of information staff and the potential for specialisation.

Small services' facilities may require an information officer to complete basic administrative tasks such as booking appointments, photocopying or dealing with vacancy information.

In organisations where there are several information points, such as some private careers services, information officers may have little contact with service customers. Instead, they may fulfil a more consultancy-type role, supporting the initial contact staff within individual units and working with external organisations, such as schools, to offer advice on the contents of their careers libraries.

Look for job vacancies at:

Get more tips on how to find a job, create a successful CV and cover letter, and prepare for interviews.

Professional development

There is no specific, national-level training for careers information officers, but there are opportunities to undertake in-house training and to attend one-off external courses. These may be related to information provision itself, or cover related areas such as staff supervision or web development.

Courses and training opportunities vary from region to region and service to service.

Professional bodies such as the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) provide a range of training opportunities in specific subjects, such as:

  • challenges of careers work;
  • collection management;
  • computer and web resources;
  • effective information retrieval;
  • guidance skills;
  • labour market intelligence;
  • writing for the web.

For details see:

There are a variety of options available, from short courses to post-experience certificates, diplomas and MAs, delivered via seminars, conferences, taught or research courses and through more informal meetings and discussion groups.

You may undertake postgraduate or professional qualifications in more specialised areas, such as librarianship or information science/management (accredited by CILIP), IT or careers guidance.

Other bodies, such as employers' groups, may offer day events where information staff can broaden their knowledge and understanding of a specific occupation, employing organisation or area of work.

Career prospects

There may be little scope for advancement once you have progressed through the pay scale of a particular post, although it may be possible to progress to an information manager role, with responsibility for managing a team of information officers and assistants.

Development is more likely to be into additional management responsibilities within the role or specialisation within the service, although such additional duties may be unrelated to a typical information provision role.

Moving from a small service to a larger one may provide more scope for progression.

Additional guidance training and a transfer to a careers adviser post is an option if you have an interest in guidance. It is common to train in this area while in post, either by part-time evening study, day release or distance learning. More information is available from:

There are also opportunities within professional organisations such as AGCAS to get involved in researching and writing materials for national publications or to provide training to colleagues across regional or national areas. Collaborative research projects with other organisations may provide opportunities for specialisation and personal and professional development.

Another possible option for career development is to gain chartered librarianship status, recognised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).