A career is defined as the combination and sequence of roles played by a person during the course of a lifetime. These roles include those of child, pupil or student, citizen, worker, spouse, homemaker, parent and pensioner and less common roles such as those of criminal, reformer and lover.  

Careers have been viewed variously as a sequence of positions occupied by a person during the course of a lifetime (Super, 1957).

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People play a variety of roles as they mature, some of these roles beginning early in life, for e.g., that of child, and others beginning late in life, e.g., that of pensioner; In between a number of roles, such as those of spouse, parent, homemaker, and worker.

Career Development Stages

Stage 1: Growth

Age 0-14

Development of self-concept, attitudes, needs and general world of work

Stage 2: Exploration

Age 15-24

Trying out through classes, work experience, hobbies, tentative choice and skill development.

Stage 3: Establishment

Age 25-44

Entry-level skill building and stabilization through work experience

Stage 4: Maintenance

Age 45-64

Continual adjustment process to improve position

Stage 5: Decline

Age 65+

Reduced output, prepare for retirement

Developmental tasks at the different stages


In adolescence

In early adulthood

In middle adulthood

In late adulthood


Giving less time to hobbies

Reducing sports participation

Focusing on essentials

Reducing working hours


Verifying current occupational choice

Making occupational position secure

Holding one’s own against competition

Keeping what one enjoys


Getting started in a chosen field

Settling down in a suitable position

Developing new skills

Doing things one has wanted to do


Learning more about opportunities

Finding desired opportunity

Identifying new tasks to work on

Finding a good retirement place


Developing a realistic self-concept

Learning to relate to others

Accepting one’s own limitations

Developing and valuing non-occupational roles

 Making a vocational choice individuals are expressing their self-concept, or understanding of self, which evolves overtime. People seek career satisfaction through work roles in which they can express themselves and further implement and develop their self-concept.


Brown D. and Brooks L. ‘Career Choice and Development: Applying Contemporary Theories to Practice’, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002.

Department of Employment Services, ‘Developmental Theories’, Dec., 2008.


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