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Career: Factors That Determine The Choice Of A Career

In this article, we shall be discussing the factors that determine the choice of career.

Career has various shades of meaning in different disciplines. In psychology, vocational psychologists tend to disagree on the precise definition of the term. Some confine the term to a single vocation, while others define the concept in terms of a sequence of occupations, jobs, and positions one holds during the lifetime. Another group equates career with life itself.

The Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English defined a career as “a progress through life or a way of making a living”. It embraces a long-term objective which when accomplished helps the individual to make a living.

Kolo in 1996 defined career as “the total life experience of a person in the world of works which has come to serve his means of livelihood”. It is any type of work, occupation, profession or job one does to earn a living.

A career decision is very important because a person’s career plays an important role in his life. However, researchers have shown that students who make early career choices are more disciplined and hard-working in their schoolwork than those who have not made any choice.

Let’s take a look at the steps for choosing a career.

What Are The Steps For Choosing A Career?

Students should make career decisions while in college. This is to enable them to know which subjects to choose that will match the career of their choice.

1. Who will I want to be in the future? E.g. a teacher, doctor, office worker, fashion designer, etc.

2. What are the things that interest me most?

3. What subjects are required in the university, polytechnic, or college of education as a minimum entry requirement for the study of the career of my choice?

4. What are the other’s views about my choice e.g. (parents, friends, neighbors, relations, society at large)

5. Will I gain enough financial support if I embark on the study of the career I have chosen?

6. Which university, polytechnic, or college of education offer admission for the study of the career of my choice?

7. Is it a very competitive career?

8. Can I cope with the course involvement?

9. Does the career have enough job opportunities?

10. What are the benefits involved in the career e.g. salary, job security, etc.

11. What are the hazards involved e.g. (time, risk, etc.).

After answering the above questions with the help of your guidance counselor, begin to gear your interest toward the career you have chosen.


The Factors That Determine The Choice Of A Career

The following are the factors that determine the choice of career in our society:

1. The Psychological Factors

These include interests, intelligence, aptitudes, talents, attitude, etc. Some people are interested in careers that involve frequent interactions with others and they depict their love for dealing with people by being humorous, friendly, helpful, understanding, and sympathetic towards other people.

There are many careers in which people with the above qualities can derive joy and personal satisfaction. For example, a teacher as a career demands that each teacher should be a lover of the students entrusted to his/her care. He/she should be a person who is friendly and approachable and is not partial in dealing with the students under him or her. A good sense of humor and devotion to duty are other assets of a good teacher and the like.


On the other hand, interest alone is not the only criterion for choosing a career, because it is one thing to be interested in becoming an engineer or a medical doctor but it is another matter to have the necessary aptitude for the courses which may lead one to them. For example, a person whose performance in mathematics is below average should not dream of a career in Engineering.

Psychologically, a person who shows interest in an aptitude and talent for a career is likely to derive optimal benefits from it. He is likely to derive job satisfaction.

2. Sociological Factors

Another factor that determines the choice of a career is the sociological factor. The sociological factors include family influence, social class membership, societal expectations, and ranking of occupations, that is parents, teachers, relations, and others who occupy a significant place in the life of a child.

For instance, parents may have occupational dreams which they could not fulfill but want their offspring to fulfill. Some parents encourage what is known as a family occupation by shaping the interests of their children to take after their profession. Some teachers may influence those children doing well in their subject to pursue that very subject at higher levels thus shaping the children’s careers.

On the other hand, societies either directly or indirectly rank or order occupations and accord higher prestige status to certain occupations than to others. For example, the status of a medical doctor, bank manager, lawyer, an engineer, is higher than the status of a schoolteacher in our society.

3. Economic Factors

Demands for occupations, salaries/wages, opportunities for employment or availability of jobs, and prospects for career advancement. I.e., high salary, because nobody goes to school to become illiterate in the world today. The ultimate aim is usually to earn an income.

The choice of an occupation is therefore determined by the amount of remuneration attached to it.

4. Situational Or Accidental Factors

When one is in a place at the right time the job was advertised, the employee needed to know somebody who is well connected with the employer or employment machinery.

Some children may develop an interest in a particular field of occupation as a result of advertisements or propaganda through television, radio, or other electronic devices. Newspapers advertisement also influence a person to choose an occupation.

5. Education

This has to do with the educational qualification or preparation attained by the individual. At a certain level, higher education demands higher job in our society, and besides, nobody wants to be looked down upon as the tail and not the head.

Therefore, children with high qualifications coupled with intellectual ability may like jobs that demand high intellectual ability and with fat salary and so on.

6. Religious Or Moral Factors

One of the most factors that determine the choice of a career is the moral value factor. For example, some people ruled out the possibility of taking up a job with police and customs, because of the temptation of taking bribes at road checkpoints or seaports.

7. Political Factors

This is the application of the quota system to give jobs to “sons of the soil” not necessarily because they possess the requisite qualification but because they are indigene in the locality.

8. Physique Factors

A person’s physique may be a handicap in choosing a job, for instance, a short person may not be eligible for certain jobs like an army, police, etc. And also, a sicklier may fare badly for jobs that require endurance, stamina, and good health generally.


With the assistance of counselors and other school staff, a realistic approach to the choice of career is likely to be made of the factors listed and discussed above.

If yours are left unguided, they are prone to choose occupations without directly relating them with the factors that determine the choice of a career.

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