Influences on Career Path Decisions

Making a decision for a particular career is one of the biggest steps you take in life. Who or what influences those decisions will depend on you and your background. In all, though, certain people in your life will usually be some of those influences. But DePaul Center says that you should also know yourself when pursuing a career path.

Role Models

  • The Experience Blog says that 60 percent of Generation Y kids said a role model made a difference in what career path they took. This emphasized the point that role models are a major factor in decision making for Generation Y. Additionally, 45 percent of Generation Y kids said that role models also helped them choose a major in college to help them get on the right career path. The top role models those kids noted were teachers and professors, at 46 percent.


  • According to 50-year studies cited by the Christian site Crown Financial Ministries, parents are always a major factor in deciding which career path their children take. The site points out that it’s a surprising study result because of the influence of media and peers on a teen’s life decisions. However, the site points out that some parents are owners of their kids and others stewards. A parent who thinks he owns his children is cited as a negative influence.

Life Circumstance

  • In an article about external influences on career choice published on The Free Library site, life circumstance is cited as another influence on career decisions. The site refers to uncontrollable events in your life that can be both positive and negative. One example is serendipity, where a better career path is offered to someone, perhaps after a job loss. A negative example is poverty, where you can’t pursue a desired career path, creating a different path than intended.

Spiritual and Religious

  • The Free Library also cites spiritual and religious reasons as a factor in career decisions. Compared with family influences, the article cites this as more of a volitional influence. Other studies show that some people use religion as a factor toward a career decision and in providing job satisfaction. A 2006 study said some people think there is a divine plan behind their career choices.

Desire to Serve Others

  • Also in the article from The Free Library are studies showing those who made career decisions based on the desire to help other people. The article shows that internal and self-motivated reasons are behind these decisions. It could be because of a desire to have a purpose in life or as a call to address social needs. Influences cited were the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks and Hurricane Katrina in motivating some to leave their jobs and pursue social service careers.

List of Information Technology Careers

Information technology encompasses all jobs related to computing technology, including networking, software, hardware and the Internet. There are a number of information technology positions that extend from entry-level to management, with a wide array of salaries. Some positions require interaction with people while others do not. If you have any interest in information technology, there is probably a job that fits your personality.


Computer Support Specialist

  • Computer support specialists are usually divided into two categories: technical support specialists and help-desk technicians. Technical support specialists work for organizations, helping address computer-user issues using automatic diagnostics programs. They may write training manuals and offer training. Help desk technicians address customer computer-related inquiries and provide assistance. Educational requirements for this position may vary from a certificate to a bachelor’s degree.

Systems Analyst

  • Systems analysts interact with clients, meeting with prospective customers and determining needs through interviews and observation. Systems analysts work in specific areas such as business, financial systems, accounting and engineering. They also prepare financial analyses regarding purchasing proposed technology and work with programmers to ensure systems are functional. A bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology is usually required for this position.

Computer Software Engineer

  • Computer software engineers are responsible for the design and development of computer software. They analyze a user’s needs and develop appropriate software using flowcharts and diagrams. Software computer engineer jobs include designing computer games, business applications, network control systems and operating systems. Most software engineers have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.

Computer Programmer

  • Taking information provided by systems analysts or software engineers, a computer programmer writes the computer program. Translating the information into a language the computer can read, computer programmers also make repairs or improvements to existing programs. Computer programmer positions may require a certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree.

Information Systems Manager

  • An information systems manager’s main responsibility is to ensurethat an organization possesses the necessary technology to meet its goals. They oversee all technical areas of an organization along with managing other information technology professionals. Information systems managers may also evaluate new technologies, develop technical standards and determine how to implement any new technology. A bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field is generally required.

The Difference Between a Job, Occupation & Career

Job, occupation and career all relate to the same thing — what you do to earn your living. The difference between these terms is more than semantics. Understanding the differences can help you figure out what it is you want to do for a living.

Occupation Is a Broad Concept

  • Your occupation is a broad term that encompasses your employment sector or the category of jobs into which you fit. You could also describe it as your area of interest. If you want to be a reporter for an online news magazine, for instance, reporter might be your job or career, but your occupation is broader — you’re a journalist.

A Job Is Temporary

  • A job is generally a means to an end — a temporary step you take to build a career. In a job, you acquire a paycheck and valuable experience that leads to your next job. The series of jobs becomes your career. If your ultimate goal is to become an attorney, you may benefit from working as a legal assistant to gain knowledge and experience to meet your career goals.

A Career Is Long-Term

  • Careers are more than just paychecks at the end of a pay period. A career is a lifelong journey that builds on your specific skills, knowledge and experience. Careers generally bring you a sense of achievement or accomplishment. If you choose well, your career is something you genuinely love doing.

Finding Your Career

  • Identifying and building your career is typically your goal as you start out in the working world. If you attended college or had a favorite major in high school, you may have already started the path to choosing your career, which often requires analyzing your specific skills and interests. Sometimes finding a career means working several jobs just to try different things. Finding your career is a deeply personal search, but there are resources available. Career guidance counselors can help you narrow down potential avenues that fit your specific skill set and interests.

How to Help Your Child Choose a Career Path

Parents speaking with child at breakfast table.

Your child’s career dreams can be positively affected through simple planning techniques implemented during the span of days, or years, that lie between today and his future. Psychologist Erik Erikson theorized that as adolescents develop personal intellectual interests and moral reasoning skills they become autonomous, yearning to be independent and self-reliant as they consider what contributions they will make to themselves and society in adulthood. Making dreams a reality requires a bit more than simply making wishes.

Open a Dialogue

  • Talk with your child about his interests and goals. Allow him to share gifts and talents he considers interesting. Often parents are surprised to learn their child has goals that he has not shared with anyone. Encourage him and listen. Ensure him that a career is his choice and he is in control of his adult path. Ask questions to inspire creative ideas and take note for later encouragement. For example, ask him such things as:
    • What do you enjoy doing?
    • What qualities, gifts and talents do you possess and want to share in your daily life?
    • What skills will a job in that field require?
    • How will you attain those requirements?
    • Are you willing to commit to learning the skills necessary?
    • How could you learn more about the career?
    • Do financial compensations and schedule requirements fit your lifestyle goals?

Build a Bridge

  • Now that your child has an example of what things to ask himself about career ideas and has narrowed down some criteria he may not know, bridge the gap between what he “K” knows, what he “W” wants to know and what he has “L” learned by asking him to create a KWL chart. For each career idea, ask him to list the answers to the sample questions, as well as anything specific on the chart. As he moves toward learning more, he can modify the chart. Make it fun. For example, call it a treasure map to find his future fortune and success.

Seek Professional Advice

  • As your child builds on ideas, seek a career guidance and counseling program. The U.S. Department of Education states everyone benefits from the resources, including youth, adults, all genders, those who are disabled and disadvantaged, minorities, English-language learners, incarcerated, drop-outs, single parents, displaced homemakers, teachers, administrators, parents and employers. The programs are available locally and online. They also are often available at most of the following places:
    • Elementary, junior and high schools
    • Colleges and universities
    • Technical institutes
    • Career resource centers
    • Correctional facilities
    • Community and business organizations
    • Human Services agencies
    • Skill clinics and placement services

Building Career Skills

  • The US Department of Education describes the positive side of utilizing career guidance and counseling programs. These programs can help your child develop the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to identify his career options, explore alternative ideas and prepare for him for the workplace. These include:
    • Teaching labor market changes and complexity of the workplace
    • Broadening knowledge, skills and abilities
    • Improving decision-making skills
    • Increasing self-esteem and motivation
    • Building interpersonal effectiveness
    • Maximizing career opportunities
    • Improving employment marketability and opportunities
    • Promoting effective job placement
    • Strengthening employer relations

Do the Homework

  • This is more interesting than it sounds because this assignment involves your child learning more about himself. Locate a trusted career test website such as and take the career test challenge. These tests are reliable and screen for personal skills, interests and qualities that help your child hone in on a career field that best matches his attributes. Ensure he answers with honesty and reflection as the results are only as reliable as the answers. Don’t lose sight of the fact that adolescents are developing and changing, so prepare for career interests to vary and flex. Roll with it because it is normal. Developing flexibility, building confidence and developing efficacy are part of the skills he will need in life.