Definition of a Career

Conceptualizing Career

Concepts about career varied as researchers varied across the research community. Career is described as an occupation or a profession that involves special training or formal education and it is considered to be a person’s lifework. Career plays a fundamental and significant role in the life of an individual not only because they affect the individual’s personality and self-concept but because it is a chosen pursuit, lifework or success in one’s profession. This concept about career implies that a career is a lifelong endeavor. Thus, the choice of career and success in it are determined by the attitude, value, needs, previous experience and expectation of the person in question. For example, teaching can be taken as a career. Within teaching, one could be a principal (a position) bursar etc. all these are positions occupied within the teaching profession or career and to succeed in it, such a teacher have a good attitude towards the teaching profession, value it, need it, and have all the necessary requirements to succeed in it.

Defining a Career


The Career Ladder


After understanding the concept of a career, it now imperative to key the above concepts into definition. Accordingly, the Oxford English Dictionary (2013) defined career as a person’s course or progress through life or a distinct portion of life. In this definition, career is understood as relating to a range of aspects of an individual’s life, learning and work. Mckay (2014) defined career as an individual’s vocation or trade or how he or she makes a living. Career is often used interchangeably with the word occupation. Examples of careers are engineering, accountancy, or veterinarian etc. which one can choose to make a living. Career, according to Okpara (2009) is a sequence of occupation, jobs engaged in or occupied throughout the lifetime of the person. Psychologically, a career is a series of roles played by a person and it is person controlled. The Wikipedia (2013) clearly defined career as a course or progress through life (or a distinct portion of life). A third way in which the term career is used to describe an occupation or a profession is that it usually involves special training or formal education and is considered to be a person’s lifework. In this case a career is seen as a sequence of related jobs usually pursued within a single industry or sector e.g. “a career in law” or “a career in the building trade”. The term career can therefore be defined as the sequence of interaction of individuals with society, education and organizations throughout their lifespan. It is necessary however, to emphasize that the much of the responsibility now rests on the individual for their own career progression which requires sustained employability (Beukes, 2009; Herr, Cramer, & Niles, 2004).

Definition of Career by Admissions and UTME Nigeria

Consequent upon the above review of the definitions of a career, the author concludes that a career is the totality of expected, current and past occupation and/or jobs to be engaged throughout ones working age. This definition was adopted because it takes into cognizance the fact that even a secondary school student is anticipating a career. Therefore, a proper definition of a career should not only define someone already in a career but also someone anticipating a career.

Download the Full Material Here: Career Day

Cite downloaded material as follows:

Michael, O. J. (2018). Trends in career tutelage in contemporary societies: The need for an annual career day programme. Wilberforce Island: Admissions and UTME Nigeria.

Cite website content as follows:

Admissions and UTME Nigeria, (2018). Definition of a career. Retrieved from