Occ. Code 8346200




New York State Department of Civil Service


Classification Standard




            Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors plan and coordinate the vocational rehabilitation of persons with disabling physical and/or mental handicaps with the primary goal being to help vocationally handicapped individuals and retain optimum employment.


            Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors are located in field offices and institutions throughout the State and are found in the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in the Education Department, the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped in the Office of Children and Family Services, in various local offices of the Workers' Compensation Board and of the State Insurance Fund.




            Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors are characterized by two significant factors in assisting physically and mentally handicapped clients to obtain and retain optimum employment: they counsel clients in need of support and they plan and coordinate the delivery of rehabilitation services to each client.  It should be noted, however, that clients in need of intensive counseling services in other than vocational areas are referred to other sources for such services.   In order to achieve their goals incumbents utilize a variety of knowledges and techniques found in such related activities as employment counseling, rehabilitation counseling and both general and medical social work.


            Typically Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors in the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation work with clients over a broad spectrum of disabilities.  However, in other agencies they are more likely to specialize.  For example, in the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors work exclusively with blind clients who often have other physical and mental handicaps; in the Workers' Compensation Board, incumbents are concerned with disabilities caused by industrial accidents or an industrial environment.  The latter two situations require the Counselor to utilize the same knowledges and skills as those found in other environments.


            This class is primarily non-supervisory and is clearly distinguished from positions of Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors which are characterized by the supervision of a group of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors.


            Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor is distinguished from Correction Counselor by the emphasis of the latter on the use of social casework techniques in helping their clients resolve their social and emotional adjustment problems.


            This class is distinguished from Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Assistant which is characterized by interviewing applicants and carrying out routine follow-up activities related to clients' vocational rehabilitation programs under the direction of a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.




Reviews new cases to determine whether potential clients meet eligibility requirements of agency and/or whether clients can benefit from vocational rehabilitation services.


§         Interviews clients to explain services agency has to offer and to identify vocational interests and desires of clients.


§         Obtains pertinent socioeconomic and medical background information by questioning the client or by written inquiry of other sources.


§         Arranges for appropriate medical, psychological, vocational and other diagnostic evaluations.


§         Discusses with medical consultants, the client's general health, the nature and extent of the client's handicap and the possibility of medical restoration.


§         Compares pertinent data obtained from client and other sources to agency's standards to determine whether client meets eligibility criteria.


§         Discusses with client the results of diagnostic evaluations and how these results will influence the rehabilitation plan.


Prepares a rehabilitation plan for the client based on educational, medical and diagnostic information previously obtained.


§         Confers with medical and program specialists both in and out of the agency to obtain recommendations concerning rehabilitation plan.


§         Prepares a written individualized rehabilitation plan for each client which includes such information as goals, timetables, and the specific services that will be provided.


§         Obtains approval from supervisor(s) for the plan.


§         Discusses proposed plan with client, clearing up any questions client may have and obtains the client's approval for the plan.


Coordinates the rehabilitation services provided to the client.


§         Contacts appropriate public and private rehabilitation agencies, educational institutions and employers in the community and makes the necessary arrangements for the provision of services to the client.


§         Determines the need of the agency to provide full or partial payments for services by comparing the financial resources of the clients to the standards for eligibility for financial assistance of the agency (OVR and CVH only).


§         Explores other funding sources available to clients to help defray program costs (e.g., medical insurance, Medicaid, scholarships, etc.)


§         Confers with (by telephone, mail in person, or other means) training and other service providers regarding clients' program advancement.  Secures and reviews written progress reports.


§         Discusses progress or lack of progress and need for changes with clients, clients' families and service providers.


§         Discusses personal adjustment problems with clients and makes appropriate referrals for serious problems.


Maintains and prepares necessary records, reports and statistical data on clients; uses statistical reports to assist in caseload management.


§         Prepares necessary statistical reports of clients.


§         Maintains individual case folders.


§         Prepares necessary financial forms for the purchase of services.


§         Helps clients who have successfully completed the rehabilitation program to find employment.


§         Establishes and maintains good working relationships with employers in geographical areas.


§         Maintains up-to-date information concerning labor market situations and manpower needs of geographical areas.


§         Confers with potential employers and other community job-finding resources explaining program objectives and potential problems in searching for suitable employment for clients.


§         Arranges interviews for clients with prospective employers and follows up with employers to get their impressions of clients in order to determine how client functions in an interview situation.


Maintains contact with clients who have been placed for a period of time to insure that they are successfully coping with the work environment.


§      Provides supportive counseling to client when necessary.


§      Helps resolve problems which may arise between client and his employer.


§      Closes cases after client has attained the goals set forth in the rehabilitation program and determines post-employment needs.


Assists clients who have little vocational potential to obtain services from other resources to be as independent as possible in daily activities and to achieve maximum function.


§         Provides necessary counseling.


§         Contacts appropriate agencies or specialists in own agency to make arrangements for the provision of necessary rehabilitative services (homemaker services for the blind, etc.).


May, on occasion, meet with interested groups in the community to explain the services their agencies provide and encourage the use of these services.




            Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors have frequent oral and written communication with a variety of people including clients seeking rehabilitation services, medical and other consultants, personnel of various rehabilitation facilities which provide rehabilitative services, representatives of other agencies both public and private which may provide needed services and both employers and potential employers.  The communication involves explaining to clients the services the agency has to offer, obtaining necessary information from clients, establishing a rapport with clients, consulting with appropriate medical personnel and other technical experts, working with personnel of other government and private agencies in order to coordinate work activities to avoid possible duplication of effort and to improve overall efficiency of service and establishing good rapport with employers in their community.


            Such relationships involve the necessity of Counselors gaining the cooperation of various individuals, some of whom may not be especially sympathetic to the goals of their programs, in providing the necessary vocational rehabilitation services to their clients.  Similarly, clients may need supportive counseling services prior to being ready for rehabilitation.




            This class is not usually characterized by supervision over others, however, depending upon the assignment, a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor may supervise a Keyboard Specialist or other clerical support personnel and may provide training to Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Trainees or college interns.


            The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor is usually supervised by a Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.  The Senior approves all individualized rehabilitation plans before they can be implemented, approves any changes in the rehabilitation plan, provides guidance and assistance to counselors in resolving especially difficult cases, reviews various reports for which the counselor is responsible, and keeps the counselors informed on changes in rules and procedures.




§         Working knowledge of medical aspects of physical and mental disabilities.


§         Working knowledge of psycho-social problems related to physical and mental disabilities.


§         Good knowledge of counseling techniques and principles.


§         Ability to comprehend written factual and interpretative material.


§         Working knowledge of psychological tests and interpretations of scores.


§         Good knowledge of community resources that can be utilized in planning for the vocational rehabilitation of the physically and mentally handicapped.


§         Ability to establish rapport with clients for the purpose of facilitating the rehabilitation process.


§         Ability to establish good working relationships with personnel from various agencies for the purpose of coordinating rehabilitation programs for clients in need of rehabilitation services.


§         Good knowledge of sources of occupational information including jobs available, the knowledge and skills needed and their adaptability to various mental and physical disabilities.


§         Working knowledge of agency rules and regulations and pertinent laws and legislation such as the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Workers' Compensation Law.


§         Working knowledge of job training possibilities.


§         Working knowledge of educational programs and preparation and skills needed.


§         Ability to evaluate a client's potential; i.e., skills, aptitudes, etc.


§         Ability to establish a working relationship with people of varied socioeconomic background.


§         Ability to maintain accurate records.






            Master's Degree in vocational rehabilitation or rehabilitation counseling, including a supervised internship.




Promotion:  Completion of a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Traineeship.




               I.      Master's Degree in vocational rehabilitation or rehabilitation counseling, including a supervised internship, and one year of acceptable experience.*


             II.      Bachelor's Degree and three years of acceptable experience.*  Satisfactory completion of at least 30 graduate credit hours in vocational rehabilitation or rehabilitation counseling, vocational guidance or counseling, psychology or social work may be substituted for one year of the required experience.


*Acceptable Experience:  Full-time paid professional experience in a recognized           agency in any of the following:


1.      Vocational rehabilitation counseling of the physically or mentally handicapped for the purpose of occupational adjustment and job placement.


2.      Vocational guidance or counseling as the primary responsibility in an institution setting serving the physically or mentally handicapped.


3.      Employment counseling of physically or mentally handicapped persons unable to secure training or employment because of inadequate vocational education.


4.      Social casework where the caseload is composed primarily of the physically or mentally handicapped and the major responsibility is counseling for occupational adjustment and job placement.




Reviewed:  9/03



NOTE:  Classification Standards illustrate the nature, extent and scope of duties and responsibilities of the classes they describe.  Standards cannot and do not include all of the work that might be appropriately performed by a class.  The minimum qualifications above are those which were required for appointment at the time the Classification Standard was written.  Please contact the Division of Staffing Services for current information on minimum qualification requirements for appointment or examination.