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State of Washington Classified Job Specification


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Class Code: 353N
Category: Social Services

Class Series Concept

See Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor 1.


Within the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), this is the lead or specialist level in the series. In an office, including out-stationed offices, under the general direction of a Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor (VRS) positions are leads, regularly assigning work, instructing, checking work, and coaching lower level VRC staff; maintaining office coverage; acting in the absence of the supervisor. These positions provide vocational rehabilitation counseling and case management for the most complex and difficult cases of customers with the most significant disabilities to assist them in achieving competitive employment outcomes. 


A specialist position under the general direction of a DVR regional administrator: plans, organizes, conducts, creates and implements area-wide activities that result in the successful implementation of one of the specialized vocational rehabilitation programs, such as Supported Employment or Secondary School Transition; analyzes program service delivery performance; build community resources, and program capacity; and provide systemic program enhancements. Provides expert technical assistance and consultation to all Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors; Initiates, negotiates, and monitors interlocal agreements and contracts with service delivery partner organizations and service providers to meet area-wide program goals.

Within the Department of Services for the Blind (DSB), serves as the autonomous representative for a designated geographic area. Positions at DSB act independently in developing, implementing, and enhancing vocational rehabilitation programs, analyzing and monitoring the performance of service providers, developing new community based provider resources, developing relationships with employers, advocating for the employment of people who are blind, providing direct case management services to a caseload of severely disabled participants in the vocational rehabilitation program, and providing in-service training for other counseling staff.  

Distinguishing Characteristics

Within the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), this level is characterized by demonstrated leadership and vocational rehabilitation counseling skills and the ability to handle the most complex cases or demonstrated expertise in specialized vocational rehabilitation programs and the ability to provide in depth technical assistance, consultation and collaboration. This level is independently responsible for providing coaching and training for other professional staff within the series, both at the local level, and at the statewide level as required. Employees act as consultants or expert advisors to lower levels within the series. Integrates vocational rehabilitation service delivery with other core programs within the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that co-enroll DVR clients in to their services. 

Within the Department of Services for the Blind (DSB): 

The incumbents act independently in developing, implementing and enhancing vocational rehabilitation programs, analyzing and monitoring the performance of service providers, developing new community based provider resources, developing relationships with employers, advocating for the employment of people who are blind, and providing direct case management services with a caseload of participants in the vocational rehabilitation program.  

The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor 4 position varies from the VRC3 in the following areas: 

The VRC4 is characterized by demonstrated superior counseling skills and ability to successfully facilitate the complex and specialized vocational rehabilitation needs presented by a caseload of Blind, Low Vision and/or Deaf Blind participants. 

The VRC4 assumes responsibility for preparing and delivering one formal peer or team training annually. Training assignments are determined with Team Leader to meet team needs.  The types of training includes but not limited to: mentoring new staff in DSB Culture, DSB best practices and procedures; methods for successful counseling in the context of blindness, low vision and deaf blindness; goals and guidelines of vocational rehabilitation, and Job Developer training.

Typical Work

Provides vocational rehabilitation counseling and devises own work methods to provide vocational rehabilitation services to a caseload of clients with the most significant disabilities.

Determines client eligibility for DVR services by obtaining and analyzing relevant medical information, identifying the disability-related barriers to employment that require VR services, and, when necessary, conducting Trial Work Experiences, to determine is an individual’s disability is too significant to achieve and employment outcome;

Provides vocational rehabilitation counseling to support, guide and foster clients’ insight and understanding of their strengths, capabilities and disability-related barriers to employment, promote their self-reliance and informed choice, and assist in identifying the steps and VR services required to achieve a competitive employment outcome.

Arranges and interprets results of diagnostic testing and other vocational rehabilitation assessment tools.  

Conducts a comprehensive assessment of each client’s needs for vocational rehabilitation services, including: 1) their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, and interests; 2) their disability-related barriers to employment; and 3) the labor market projections and suitability of their desired employment goal. 

Obtains a benefits analysis report and interprets the results to assist and counsel clients receiving Social Security Disability Insurance and/or Supplemental Security Income to understand how earned income from employment will affect their benefits and choice of an employment goal;  

Assists clients in developing and implementing a written individualized plan for employment based on their active participation and informed choice, identifying the client’s employment goal along with the steps, timelines and vocational rehabilitation services that are required to eliminate or reduce the individual’s disability-related barriers to achieving an employment outcome;  

Approves each client’s individualized plan for employment, and revises or amends the plan when needed. 

Manages and spends an allotment of case service funds to authorize and pay for vocational rehabilitation services required by clients. 

Assesses and supports client's progress throughout rehabilitation process and addresses any newly identified disabilities or barriers to employment.  

Closes cases when clients achieve an employment or are ineligible for DVR services, no longer available or participating in DVR services, or request case closure.  

Assists client and employer with post-employment services and provides employer with necessary information regarding reasonable accommodations.  

Participates in statewide, regional, and unit staff meetings, classes, workshops, agency training opportunities, professional workshops, and conferences;

 Approves funding and assigns cases to other Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors;

Provides orientation and basic vocational rehabilitation procedural training for new staff; 

Arranges for office coverage; and 

Helps develop agendas, conducts office meetings, and provides input in to counselor and rehabilitation technician evaluations. 

Specialist positions serve on the area management team;  

Performs other duties as required.

Knowledge and Abilities

Knowledge of: vocational rehabilitation, independent living, assistive technology, secondary and post-secondary education, other federal and state rules, policies, procedures, and service delivery practices relating to the provision of services under specialized vocational rehabilitation programs; requirements of the Rehabilitation Act as well as other core programs within the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act; community resources, private and public sector employer expectations and hiring practices; current labor market information and trends; disability-specific agencies and resources; appropriate vocational rehabilitation counseling methods and practices; medical psychological and social aspects of disability; effect of earned income on disability benefits. 

Ability to: lead staff in developing and carrying out individualized employment plans for individuals; advise staff on steps to gain confidence and cooperation of clients; write and speak effectively; establish and maintain effective working relationships; assist clients with the most significant disabilities to develop and carry out feasible individualized plans for employment; and/or present and promote various specialized vocational rehabilitation programs on an area-wide basis in a professional manner; communicate effectively in written and public presentations; meet formally and informally with a variety of community-based organizations and special interest groups.  

Within the Department of Services for the Blind (DSB)

Superior counseling skills includes but is not limited to:  

  • Working with DSB’s specialized populations with skill & expertise
  • High quality & variety of job placements, benefits, fit of position with customer’s skills/attributes, quality of wage
  • Strong case management, moving difficult cases forward
  • Counseling code of ethics incorporated into real life situations
  • Superior documentation
    • Justifications
    • Analysis of counseling intent and outcomes
    • Demonstration of participant choice
    • Identifying challenges that the participant faces and documenting how the VRC assisted in overcoming the challenges
    • Identifying resources available in the local area
  • Active listening, empathy, a “Can Do!” approach to case management
  • Open communication with supervisor on case management and professional issues
  • Superior organizational strategies — time management, thoughtful planning of future strategies for case movement, prioritization;
  • Continuous learning and education; continuous improvement
  • Team building and team processes 

Mastery of specialized blindness services, resources and needs for vocational rehabilitation participants who are blind, low vision, or deaf-blind.

Legal Requirement(s)

There may be instances where individual positions must have additional licenses or certification. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the appropriate licenses/certifications are obtained for each position.

Desirable Qualifications

A Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling, psychology, counseling, or a field related to vocational rehabilitation (such as one that promotes the physical, psychosocial, or vocational well-being of individuals with disabilities),* 

The following Master’s degrees will qualify: 

1.  Rehabilitation Counseling

2.  Psychology with an emphasis/major concentration of coursework in one of the following areas:

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Counseling Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • School Psychology

3.  Social Work

4.  Marriage and Family Therapy

5.  Marriage, Family and Child Counseling

6.  Counseling, regardless of emphasis

7.  Education with an emphasis/major concentration of coursework in one of the following areas: 

  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Special Education
  • Educational Counseling
  • Counseling and Guidance
  • Mental Health Counseling
  • Community Counseling
  • School Counseling

8.  Vocational Evaluation 


A current Certification as a Rehabilitation Counselor by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification, (CRCC)


A Master’s degree with at least 18 quarter and 12 semester credit hours specified as follows: 

1.  ONE graduate course with a primary focus on the Theories and Techniques of Counseling, and  

2.  THREE graduate courses, each with a primary focus on one of the following areas:

            a. Occupational Information

            b. Job Development and Placement

            c. Medical Aspects of Disabilities

            d. Foundations of Rehabilitation

            e. Psychological Aspects of Disabilities

            f. Personal and Vocational Adjustment, and

     3.   TWO graduate courses, each with a primary focus on one of the following areas: 

            a. Assessment

            b. Research Methodology

            c. Vocational and Career Development

            d. Community Resources

            e. Case Management

            f. Delivery of Rehabilitation Services,  


Four years of paid experience as a vocational rehabilitation counselor or similar paid experience in vocational counseling, job placement, vocational assessment, or other areas of rehabilitation counseling;  This experience may be gained either before or after obtaining the qualifying education or CRCC certification.  One year of the paid experience may be substituted with unpaid experience consisting of: 

  1. Direct work with individuals with disabilities in a setting such as an independent living center,
  2. Direct service or advocacy activities that provide such individuals with experience and skills in working with individuals with disabilities; or
  3. Direct experience as an employer, as a small business owner or operator, or in self-employment, or other experience in human resources, recruitment, or experience in supervising employees, training, or other activities that provide experience in competitive integrated employment environments.

Class Specification History

New class adopted October 1, 2003.
Revise class. Revises class code (formerly 37101), general revision; adopted May 10, 2007 effective July 1, 2007.
Revise class. Revise desirable qualifications, adds typical work, knowledge and abilities, changed June 20, 2007, effective July 1, 2007.
Revise class series concept, definition, distinguishing characteristics, typical work, desirable qualifications, knowledge and abilities, salary modification adopted June 30, 2017, effective July 1, 2017; previously range 54.
Revised definition adopted 11/9/2017, effective 11/10/2017.