Choosing a career might feel like a tough task, especially while you are still in high school or still studying. But this process need not confuse or overwhelm you. Simply give this a thorough read, take a deep breath and enjoy the process of self-discovery that will enable you to choose a career that is suitable to you.
Know yourself 

You will spend a large proportion of your time at work one day, so choosing a career that suits your interests, talents, or lifestyle will feel very rewarding in the long run. The reality is, of course, that very few people enjoy every minute of their jobs, so it will be important for you to have a passion for the job to get you through some of those tough days.

Consider the following attributes

Think about your interests, abilities and personality traits. Interests have the ability to translate into career paths.  It is important to take note of the activities you enjoy and give some thought to how this could be beneficial in a particular career. Do you enjoy nature or animals? Then research some jobs that work with those. Love numbers and being organised? Maybe accounting is the career for you.

Your abilities are important to consider when choosing a career. If you have an interest in a particular career but don’t have the required ability, it is vital to be honest with yourself.  This could mean pursuing a different career path or putting in some extra hours to develop your ability in this area.  With that being said, it is always important to check in with whether your abilities are on par with what is required.

Your personality traits will determine what type of environment you are able to thrive and be productive in. If you are an introvert, maybe being a tour guide is not a suitable job for you because it requires too much daily interaction with people. Your personality is a fundamental part of who you are will have an impact on your values.  This is another aspect of knowing yourself.  It is important to identify these values so that you are not disappointed by what your career offers.

Do your research 
Hein Johnson, a third-year BAgri student. Photo: Supplied

Hein Johnson, a third-year BAgri student. Photo: Supplied

Research universities and see what courses they offer. Most provide a list of possible careers that you can follow after completing your diploma or your degree. Find out when their academic open days and their career fairs are so that you can go find out about your career and study options in person.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to study until I went to a career fair in grade 11,” explains a 3rd year BAgri student, Hein Johnson. “I had to change the subjects I had in high school in order to have the required subjects to go into Plant Production.”

Johnson knew he loved gardening but didn’t know that he could ever make a career out of it. Being exposed to different types of careers at a career fair empowered him on his journey to deciding his career. Now he is studying Plant Production at Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute and is excited at his career prospects after he graduates.

Useful resources 

There are many websites that offer career guidance and information. One of them is the National Career Advice Portal, a free online self-help tool designed to facilitate informed career and study decisions.

EduConnect is a South African online resource tool with a list of all of the higher education institutes in South Africa, free quizzes and a lot of info on careers, study options and funding.

It might take you a few hours, or even days, but do your research and see what options exist for you. Take note of what kind of qualification you would need, entry requirements to get into an institution as well as some of the skills you will need.

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) with the Departments of Higher Education and Training and Basic Education launched the NQF and Career Advice Service in January 2011 that has a website, a career advice help line, guidance materials, and a weekly radio programme in partnership with SABC Education that is broadcast on nine regional radio stations in nine languages.

Fully qualified Career Advisors provide career information, guidance and advice by telephone and also respond to queries received by telephone, SMS, ‘Please Call Me’, E-mail, Facebook and Twitter.

Lastly, don’t worry too much 

Good career choices are made over a period of time as you mature personally and develop career maturity. The two do not necessarily happen simultaneously. Many people try out a number of options before finding out their real career niche in midlife.

Make a choice, and work hard to stick to it. But don’t be discouraged if you need to change your subjects in high school when you realise that you chose wrong subjects. It’s not the end of the world, even though it might feel like it.