Career Advice: How do I decide on what career to choose from?

choose your career path
There are three steps to successful career planning: Reflecting, Exploring and Planning.

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There are three steps to successful career planning:

  1. Reflecting – think about what makes you tick. What are your interests and skills? What do you enjoy doing and why ? What are your strong points and what are your weak points?
  2. Exploring – Find out about different careers that you may see yourself doing ? What courses, training schemes and industry regulations or requirements are there ?
  3. Planning – Sort the different options open to you into priority order. Decide on what steps you need to take to get more information about your favourite options, to improve your chances of success and to apply for things. This is an extremely important step in the entire process. Make sure that the course / institution that you are deciding to go with is in fact legit and accredited. Education is expensive and you do not want to pay for a course that you will not receive recognition for in the working world. Have a look at the South African Qualification Authority website for example:

Step 1 – Reflecting

Before you start planning, you need to think about what your own interests are. What do you like and dislike? What sort of person are you? What are your interests? What did you enjoy doing at school or in your spare time? For example, you might like:

  • Dancing,
  • Art,
  • Music,
  • Sports,
  • Writing stories,
  • Helping others,
  • Playing computer games,
  • Taking Photographs,
  • Socialising with friends,

What are your skills? What kind of things are you good at? For example, you might be good at:

  • Business Economics,
  • Technical Drawing,
  • Science,
  • Woodworking,
  • Cooking,
  • Maths,
  • Public Speaking,
  • Writing,
  • Using computers,
  • Fixing cars,
  • Creative work, like painting or music,
  • Practical tasks, like making models or repairing things,
  • Researching information for a project,

What are your personal qualities? What are you like as a person? For example, you could be good at:

  • Managing your time and meeting deadlines,
  • Working well with other people,
  • Planning,
  • Talking to groups of people,
  • Joining in discussions,
  • Caring for other people,
  • Coming up with original ideas,
  • Listening to other people’s views,

How do you like to learn? Different options will offer different ways of learning. For example, some education courses will be mostly classroom-based while others will involve placements with employers or practical project work.

If you enjoy classroom-based learning with exams you may want to take a general education course or Degree. Should you prefer practical project work with hands-on work experience you will probably be interested in an internship, learnership, traineeship, or apprenticeship course like an NQF for example.

Perhaps you would rather learn step-by-step at your own pace, online or in a small class while gaining some useful everyday skills, an Online Learning programme or a Course through UNISA for example could be the right choice for you. You can find out more information on UNISA on their website found at:

Depending on what field of study you wanted to go into you could also look at the online short courses that the University of Cape Town is offering via the following website:

And as we already stated above have a look at the South African Qualification Authority website for examples:

Step 2 – Exploring

The business world is constantly changing, and new job opportunities are becoming available every day. To help plan your career, find out more about the kind of jobs that are out there now, and which ones could be big in the future. Most importantly make sure that the career you choose is the right fit for you! You will be lying to yourself if you said you wanted to become a brain surgeon but fainted at the sight of blood, so be sure and honest with yourself.

To get some inspiration, have a look on the internet, search online job sites, ask your family and friends questions about what they do, buy the newspaper and see what jobs are out there, what skills shortage there is in South Africa, what you can expect to earn and so on. Once you have got some career ideas, list those you are most interested in and why you like the sound of them. Have a look online at our latest job vacancies to give you an idea of the type of jobs that are currently out there.

Step 3 – Planning

Once you have found the jobs you are interested in, try to answer the four questions below:

Can I start this career straight from school?

This may depend on what qualifications you have. Remember, the majority of jobs these days ask for some qualifications. Some companies will offer Matriculants with no experience an opportunity to start at the bottom and work their way up. They may even offer comprehensive on the job training. Examples of these jobs are as follows :

  • Office Jobs,
  • Data Capture Jobs,
  • Internships,
  • Reception Jobs,
  • Traineeships,
  • Learnerships,
  • Telesales Jobs,
  • Call Centre Jobs,

Could I do an Apprenticeship?

For some areas of work, an apprenticeship is one of the main ways to start your career. You may need some qualifications before you can begin an apprenticeship, but some companies will offer full comprehensive on the job training for the right candidates. Examples of some apprenticeships may include:

  • Technical / Trade Apprenticeship,
  • Business Apprenticeship,
  • Engineering Apprenticeship,
  • Mechanical Apprenticeship,
  • Drivers Apprenticeship,

Do I need to get some more qualifications for this type of job?

You may first need to gain some additional qualifications at a training school, college, or even university. Find out what subjects and types of qualifications you need. For example, you might need a general course like an introduction to business computing, or a Technical Qualification like an N2 in Engineering or you may need a Degree. Do your research online first and make sure that the course/institution is actually recognised in the industry before enrolling.

Do I need to build up my confidence and skills?

You may not feel ready yet to start a higher-level course, apprenticeship, or job. You may not yet know what you want to do for the rest of your life. That is okay! If you need to, take a gap year, go travel, find casual jobs for example waitering or promotion work, while you also gain experience dealing with people.

Always have a back-up plan!

Even if you have your ideal career in mind, it’s a good idea to think about other choices in case things don’t work out the way you planned. This is especially important if you’re aiming for a very popular or expensive course or career. Also if you don’t get the grades you are hoping for or there are no places available on your chosen Apprenticeship, you’ll need to have a good alternative to fall back on.

We hope that you found this article for Information for school leavers helpful, if so please share it with your friends! Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to keep up with News and Information for first-time job seekers!

Before you go have a look at our website for any Internships or Graduate Programs currently available. is a free online recruitment site for employers to post free online job vacancies and for job seekers to find the best jobs in South Africa. Have a look through all our current employment opportunities in South Africa to see if there is a suitable vacancy that you would like to apply for. Remember that companies do post new jobs every day, so set up job alerts to be notified of any current job postings in South Africa.

If you are a recruiter or a company looking to fill a position, you may post jobs for free on our free online job posting site. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us!

You may also find these articles useful:

What is an apprenticeship?

Information for school leavers: TVET COLLEGES

Help! I need a job but don’t have experience

What to do if you’ve just graduated from university.

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