National Career Development Association

The National Career Development Association (NCDA) is the oldest nonprofit counseling professional organization in the United States. Its mission is “to promote the career development of all people over the life span.” It currently has about 4,000 members that include career counselors, consultants, counselor educators, students, and career service providers such as career development facilitators (CDF), career coaches, and human resource personnel. The following describes the history and governance, professional services, and future directions of the organization.

History and Governance

NCDA was established in 1913 as the National Vocational Guidance Association and changed to its current name in 1985. It is one of the founding divisions of the American Counseling Association (ACA). There are four individual membership categories: regular (joining NCDA directly), professional (joining through ACA), student or new professional, and retiree. In addition, three special membership categories recognize individual members who (a) have made significant contributions to the field of career development (Fellows), specialize in career counseling (Master Career Counselors), or specialize in career development services (Master Career Development Professionals). Professional organizations in other countries with missions similar to NCDA’s can join as international affiliates.

NCDA’s members have the authority to elect officers and vote for major decisions such as bylaws changes. The executive body is the board of directors comprising elected officers including the president, president-elect, past-president, secretary, treasurer, ACA governing council representative, two trustees-at-large, and four regional trustees. Day-to-day operations are handled by the NCDA headquarters, which include an executive director and several staff members. There are more than 30 committees or task forces that implement special projects of the organization. Finally, there are 28 state career development associations that have a similar mission as NCDA, and their bylaws are approved by NCDA.

Professional Services

NCDA provides a variety of professional services to its members, nonmember professionals and students, the general public, and international entities. These services include (a) professional community and networking (conferences, newsletter, Web site, electronic forums, mentoring program, international collaborations); (b) professional ethics, standards, and guidelines (for practice, education, and accreditation); (c) recognitions (awards, special membership categories); (d) publications and media (journal, books, Web-based magazine, DVDs, videotapes, audiotapes); (e) professional development and training (conferences, professional development institutes, continuing education programs, CDF training); (f) research (grants and awards, research projects); and (g) public relations and advocacy (marketing, press and media, consumer guidelines, national career development month, diversity, government relations, public policy making). These services are funded by membership fees, product or service revenues, grants, donations, or contracts. Three signature products of NCDA are its official journal (The Career Development Quarterly), Web-based magazine (Career Convergence), and CDF training curriculum.

Future Directions

Currently NCDA is heading toward the following directions: (a) multiculturalism and internationalization, (b) collaborations with other organizations, (c) social advocacy and public policy making, (d) online curriculum (e-learning) for CDF training, and (e) revising and creating professional guidelines.


  1. National Career Development Association:
  2. Pope, M. (2000). A brief history of career counseling in the United States. The Career Development Quarterly, 48, 194-211.

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