One Of The Most Important Decisions: Choosing Your Career Path
July 24, 2020
By Optimi Classroom

Choosing a career path is probably one of the most difficult decisions a person has to make. And, often, you have to make that decision when you are still a child (between 15 and 19 years old). It starts with subject choices in Grade 9 and continues with your choice of study courses when enrolling at a university or college after matric.


Don’t waste time on the wrong choice

While you can change your career later in your life, your first choice still has an impact. Just think of it: Your poor parents or, worse still, your own bank account will be out of around R100 000 if you waste one year at university or any other tertiary institution by enrolling for the wrong course. You will not only be wasting money but also time. Say you finish that degree that you were not really sure about. You get a job in that career path and work in that career for the rest of your life, i.e. close to 90 000 hours. If you are in the wrong career and, therefore, unhappy with what you do, 90 000 hours can be a very long time. If you don’t like what you do, you will be caught up in a lifelong never-going-anywhere career tumble dryer.

Make an informed career decision

To avoid this unhappy journey, you need to make an informed career decision:  you need to be informed about the world of work and properly know yourself. 


  • World of work: For numerous reasons, it is a huge challenge to decide which career suits you best:  there are so many to choose from and there might be careers that are number fit for you that you are not even aware of.  Fortunately, a very clever person by the name of Dr John Holland developed a classification system, which is the most widely used career counselling theory in the world.

DID YOU KNOW? In America, a questionnaire based on Holland’s theory is completed 1.8 million times every month.


According to Holland’s system (see graphic explanation to the right), each career is classified by a three-letter Holland code, e.g. Mechanical Engineer = IRC (Investigative, Realistic; Conventional) and Chef = ERA (Enterprising, Realistic, Artistic).


  • Know yourself: To discover where you fit into this kaleidoscopic world of work and which interesting career awaits you, all you need to do is complete the Career Compass questionnaire. Once you have done this, you will receive a three-letter Holland code. Your unique code will be used to link you to
    • a detailed description of what career options you should pursue based on your personality,
    • what qualifications you will need to pursue this career path,
    • where to study,
    • and the demand for this career path in the South African job market.

TOP TIP: Do the Career Compass questionnaire every year from Grade 9 to Grade 12. This will allow you to obtain more information, rethink your decision, and adjust your career path if necessary.


By completing the Career Compass questionnaire, you can hopefully look back one day with the realisation that your successful career started the day you completed Career Compass for the first time. We wish you all the best with your career choice ahead.

By Deon van Wyk 


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