Career is a term defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as an individual's "course or progress through life (or a distinct portion of life)". It usually is considered to pertain to remunerative work (and sometimes also formal education).

A career is mostly seen as a course of successive situations that make up a person's occupation. One can have a sporting career or a musical career without being a professional athlete or musician, but most frequently "career" in the 20th century referenced the series of jobs or positions by which one earned one's money. It tended to look only at the past.

As the idea of personal choice and self direction picks up in the 21st century, aided by the power of the Internet and the acceptance of people having multiple kinds of work, the idea of a career is shifting from a closed set of achievements, like a chronological résumé of past jobs, to a defined set of pursuits looking forward. In its broadest sense, career refers to an individual’s work and life roles over their lifespan.

In the relatively static societies before modernism, many workers would often inherit or take up a single lifelong position (a place or role) in the workforce, and the concept of an unfolding career had little or no meaning. With the spread during the Enlightenment of the idea of progress and of the habits of individualist self-betterment, careers became possible, if not expected.

Career Assessments are tests that come in a variety of forms and rely on both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Career Assessments can help individuals identify and better articulate their unique interests, values, and skills. Career counselors, executive coaches, career development centers, and outplacement companies often administer career assessments to help individuals focus their search on careers that closely match their unique personal profile.

Career counseling advisors assess people's interests, personality, values and skills, and also help them explore career options and research graduate and professional schools. Career counseling provides one-on-one or group professional assistance in exploration and decision making tasks related to choosing a major/occupation, transitioning into the world of work or further professional training. The field is vast and includes career placement, career planning, learning strategies and student development.

By the late 20th century a plethora of choices (especially in the range of potential professions) and more widespread education had allowed it to become fashionable to plan (or design) a career: in this respect the careers of the career counsellor and of the career advisor have grown up. It is also not uncommon for adults in the late 20th/early 21st centuries to have dual or multiple careers, either sequentially or concurrently. Thus, professional identities have become hyphenated or hybridized to reflect this shift in work ethic. Economist Richard Florida notes this trend generally and more specifically among the "creative class."

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Career Change. The Official Guide to Career Change is David Couper. David Couper is a career coach and writer who for the last twenty years has worked in Europe, Asia, and the USA with thousands of individuals and groups. He has successfully coached men and women wanting to change career or develop new opportunities at all levels - including CEOs of major companies wanting a creative challenge, frustrated souls longing to make their dream come true and front-line employees laid off and desperate to get a job. He specializes in helping people find their unique potential. He loves to transform misfits at work into successful misfits with their dream careers. David has a degree in Communication, a postgraduate qualification in education, is certified in a number of training technologies, and has a Masters in Spiritual Psychology. He is a member of the American Society of Training and Development, Society of Human Resources Professional, Writers Guild and the British Academy of Film and Television. David has published seven books. His works on interpersonal skills, counseling in the workplace, and management issues (published by Connaught, Gower, HRD Press, Longman, Macmillan/Pearson Publishing, Oxford University Press) have been translated into Swedish, Polish, and Danish, and published in the UK and the USA. He has dual US/UK citizenship.

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David Couper, The Official Guide to Career Change