Factors influencing Career Choice

Ask any child what they want to be when they grow up, and the chances are that they will tell you
precisely what they hope to become in the future. Children look up to adults in their world, and from a
young age, they emulate them by envisioning themselves as career doctors, teachers, or pilots. But, as
we grow up, our career preferences change as the choices evolve to match our realities, opportunities,
and a better understanding of what we like and can do.
Below are some of the major factors that influence a career choice.
i) Childhood fantasies – What you dream of being as a child, is powerful, and if you are persistent,
this influences your career path as an adult. As a child, Barack Obama wrote in a school
assignment that he dreamt of becoming the president of America. As an adult, he became one of
the best leaders in the country and the world.
ii) Skills, Abilities, Talents – Educators, and parents play a critical role in helping children identify
their talents and for most, matching our natural skills or expertise to career choices breeds success.
A great example is Bill Gates, who wrote his first software program when he was 13 years old.
Today, Bill Gates owns Microsoft and is one of the world‟s wealthiest people.
iii) Previous experiences – Studies indicate that people often choose careers where they have
experienced positive work experience, rather than starting something new. For example, if a
person‟s role model is a doctor, they may influence their choices to pursue medicine, especially
when they become mentors.
iv) Qualifications – Everyone wants to be successful, and while medicine, accounting, or even
software engineering jobs are great options, achieving the required grades is easier said than done.
v) Gender – While the world has made strides in gender equality, the fact is that career-related
stereotypes still play a vital role in how individuals view career opportunities. In some cases,
women are discouraged from careers that are traditionally male and vice-versa.
vi) Social and Economic Conditions – It is no secret that education is expensive and despite beliefs
that “We can do anything we set our minds to,” the reality is that career choices are affected by
social and economic conditions. Sometimes, talented kids with the potential to attend universities
end up dropping out because of the lack of funds, and this affects their ability to pursue some
careers.
vii) Personality Type – Aristotle said that “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” and
when choosing a career, matching it to your personality is key to success. Walt Disney was once
fired for lack of “imagination”, but independently, he became a pioneer of the animation industry.
While Disney‟s leadership personality traits made him a weak employee, they made him a great
entrepreneur and leader.
viii) Media – Studies suggest that young children learn by copying, and what they see on the TV screen
can influence their decisions in daily life. For teens and college students, the media is a socializing
factor, and many emulate the actions and decisions of TV show characters and celebrities.

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