Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Monday January 14th 2019

Jobless with a master’s degree in counselling

Hi Gilbert

In 2001,  I have reinvented myself to be  a self-taught creative graphic designer.

And believe it or not – I have survived 9 years and 3 months. Unbelieveable!

However, I lost my job  early this year.

I am currently doing temp job with an assessment book publisher.

After this temp job, I just have to keep my faith in GOD that HE will give me a new job miracle.

With my low savings, two weeks ago,¬† I managed ¬†to pass $50 to a friend who has no money to see a doctor for his flu and cough. I believed that there are many others out there who are worse off than me. Sigh…

I will have to keep on re-inventing myself and keep on fighting against all odds to find a new job here.

Far too many HR managers refused to hire matured workers in Singapore.

I also  have a master degree in counselling but sadly could not find any entry-level job with any family service centres.

Their reason? NCSS guidelines ‚Äď you must first have 3 years in social service experience. How to gain experience when you are not given the chance in the first place?

Social worker  has social work degree and can be trained to do counselling. So,  a social worker can do both social work and counselling.

Counsellor only trained in counselling cannot do social work. What an irony!

A few months ago,  Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said that Singapore only has  600 social workers  and this is not enough.

With a 4.9-million population, we only only have 600 overstretched overworked social workers. It is no wonder that so  many social workers have  resign from their jobs  due to the work stress factor.

The criterion for social workers is just too stringent and the pay also needs to be adjusted to attract more people into this noble industry.

As for me, I am praying hard for God to answer my prayers.

Hope divine help will come soon or else I will be in dire straits!


Peter (name changed)


Hi Peter,

 Thanks for your mail and I empathisize with your situation.

¬†I must commend you for being a survivor and have survived nine years after re-inverting yourself to be a self-taught graphic designer. That’s the hallmark of a true survivor!

 It is also good that you have taken up some temp work to earn some income to tide over the interim period. It is better than staying at home doing nothing.

 I wonder if you are entrepreneurial enough to start your own one-man graphic designing business?

 I am sure after working for so many years you should have your enough  contacts to jumpstart your own business.

 Most Singaporeans often think of getting a job when they are jobless but didn’t really explore thoroughly whether they can start a small business on their own.

 Of course, there is no guarantee that all businesses will succeed but you won’t know if you haven’t try.

 Starting a small one-man business, which you are familiar with, has several benefits.

 You are your own boss and no one can retrench you. In fact, once you have collect too many jobs, you can  farm them up to other freelance designers.

 Your start-up cost is also low as you only take  care of your own expenses and no one else.

 You can also apply for some funding for selected small start-up businesses and do visit the government websites to research more  into this aspect.

 As it is difficult now to look for work in a very competitive job market,  starting a small low-cost business which you are familiar with does sound feasible.

 Let me know if you need some assistance here. Our volunteer career coach may be able to guide you along if you want to start a small business.

 Take care and never give up.




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9 Responses to “Jobless with a master’s degree in counselling”

  1. KW says:

    Hi Peter,

    My last job was a Marketing Communications person in quite a large company. And people like me need graphics designer to do our advertisements, brochures etc. Company is too stingy to buy the license for those design software and they can’t expect all marketing communications people to be able to design and draw as well. So why don’t you call the main line operator, ask for the email address of the marketing person (they seldom will give you the name of the marketing person), then write an email to them, like doing cold call for customers. In the email, you may quote the works that you have done for which companies. Hope my advice helps :) Good Luck!


  2. Gilbert Goh says:

    Hi KW

    That’s rather good advice – thanks.

    Hopefully, Peter will reinvent himself once again here!

    All the best!


  3. Hmmm…very good to find out, there were without a doubt a number of points that I had not thought of before.

  4. Imani says:

    Hey Peter,

    Join the club,am at 25 almost 26 years almost getting my Masters in Development Studies and guess what the experience issue is a problem in getting a job in any N.G.O .

    I guess I should use my research skills,am into writing articles.
    But I believe GOD’s ways are higher than man’s ways with or without experience a job is forthcoming Peter

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  6. Alex says:

    Hi Peter,
    Age is always a problem and the hirer are finding excuse for not selecting us.
    Even if u r willing to lower your expectation, they will still not interested.
    Take control of your life and make full use of your knowledge and excel for
    yourself. I quit being employed 8 yrs back having the same concern.
    Opportuniy do not have standard shape or size, it will only
    come by when u try hard to search. Can share views if I

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  8. A FSC counsellor says:

    Hi Peter,

    I’m sorry to read your predicament.

    Family service centres are social work agencies that have to follow NCSS guidelines in their hiring, ie. majority of staff have to be social workers with recognized degrees, supported by a few counsellors and admin staff. Hence that explains why you have difficulty finding employment in FSCs.

    To ensure a professional standard and to be able to negotiate remunerations, social workers are also accredited by the Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW) and only degrees from NUS & UniSim are recognized (principle of supply & demand).

    Indeed, there is shortage of social workers in Singapore, hence SASW are encouraging mid-career changers to enrol in a professional conversion course. So Peter, you may want to consider this option if you still like to work at a FSC.

    Unfortunately for counsellors, the Singapore Association of Counsellors (SAC) does not play such a regulatory role, nor does it control where members get their Masters from. Hence, there is less confidence in hiring applicants with only a counselling qualification.

    FYI, the most visible organization hiring counsellors is MOE as every school needs a school counsellor. FSCs, hospitals, and prisons do hire counsellors; but their demand is much smaller, hence they usually choose to hire experienced counsellors.

    So good luck and hang in there!

    • Gideon says:

      Hi A FSC COunsellor,

      What would you recommend for a graduate with psychology degree who is looking to enter the field of social work and counselling? Actually, I’ve been interested to pursue a Master of Counselling in UniSIM a year after I started work, but I’m not sure if it will actually allow me to find work related to doing counselling case work, social work, etc.

      You’ve mentioned SASW coming up with training courses for individuals who want to make a mid-career shift. Would it mean that I’ll still need to be trained in social work at SASW, and then back it up with a Masters in Counselling, in order to work in your current setting? To go on further, would the Masters in Counselling even be necessary?

      I truly hope to hear your advice on this!

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