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 is usually considered to pertain to remunerative work (and sometimes also formal education).
The etymology of the term is somewhat ironic in that it comes from the Latin word carrera, which means race (as in "rat race," a pejorative implying the opposite of a useful career).
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. A person's worth is often measured by the career success or failings. It is not until an individual matures and takes possession of their life that the realisation of life balance occurs. Life balance entails separating career activities, achievements and tasks from the rest of a persons life. For example, leaving the job at work and having a home life. Learning that career is necessary to meet the needs of life and also have a life as well.
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.
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 possible 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."
Different concepts of career
The traditional concept of career has been concerned with progression up an ordered hierarchy within an organisation or profession. Career refers to an individual’s work and life roles over their lifespan. This version of a career makes it clear that people can progress through their career horizontally as well as vertically.
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.