Career Guidance Tips for High School Students

Career Guidance Tips for High School Students

Choosing a career is one of the biggest decisions you will make in life. It is also one of the most difficult ones. There are so many different careers out there, and each has its own pros and cons. This article will help you decide what career path is right for you.

A Career That Suits You And Will Help You Grow As An Individual.

Career planning in high school doesn’t mean deciding the exact job you want to have. Instead, it means finding a career cluster (a group of similar careers) that interests you. That way, you can find appropriate resources and start setting career goals without locking yourself into one specific job.

Know Yourself First.

You should first try to figure out what type of person you are before deciding on a career. Are you outgoing or shy? Do you enjoy being with people or prefer to work alone? What do you like doing? These questions will help you determine what kind of job you would enjoy.

Be Prepared To Work Hard.

If you decide to pursue a career in the medical field, you need to be prepared to work hard. It takes years of training to become an expert in any particular area. In order to succeed in the medical field, students must complete four years of undergraduate study followed by two years of graduate school. This means that high school students who wish to enter the medical field must begin planning early.

Have The Right Attitude.

You should also consider what kind of personality type you are. Are you outgoing and extroverted or more reserved and introverted? Do you prefer to work alone or with others? These questions will help you determine whether you are suited for a particular career path.

Take Care Of Yourself.

If you're not sure what you want to do after high school, there are plenty of options available to you. There are jobs out there for everyone, no matter what your interests are. However, some careers require certain skills and knowledge that you'll need to acquire before you start applying for them.

Helping Students find help with Career Planning

Sometimes it feels like the second you start high school, every adult within a 50-mile radius asks, “What do you want to do after you graduate?” Not only does that question get annoying after a while, but it’s also a frequent source of stress. Sometimes it’s hard enough to decide what shirt to wear or what to have for dinner; how are you supposed to decide on what career you’ll have for the rest of your life?

Here’s the secret: you don’t. 

Career planning is a long-term process that spans well past your high school years. Let’s take a look at career planning in high school and how to set yourself up for success down the line.

Career Planning Doesn’t Mean “Pick Your Dream Job”

Most guides on career planning for high schoolers boil down to “Decide what you want to do and choose the right college major to find the right job opportunities and earn money.” But despite their prevalence, all those guides are misleading. 

Ignoring the fact that most people get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of career options, career planning isn’t a one-time decision or event. Rather, it’s a process that continues throughout your life. Career planning for high school students is probably better described as career exploration — that is, looking into what fields of work you might be interested in — so that you can make more specific career choices later on. 

The truth is, nobody can plan out their entire career path, no matter where they are in life. Your interests and skills will change over time, what you want from your job may change, and you may be surprised by unexpected career opportunities. 

Plenty of people eventually change their career path — 48% of people who changed jobs between 2019 and 2021 switched to an entirely different field. Changing tracks throughout life is common; your career isn’t fixed in place.

Career Clusters: Finding the Right Field 

If you’re asking, “What job do I want after I graduate?” you’re asking the wrong question. Instead, you should ask, “What career clusters interest me?”

A career cluster is a group of jobs and occupations that are closely related. These clusters include areas like marketing, STEM careers, arts, education, hospitality, and law. Many positions within a cluster share the same or similar skills and underlying goals.

Finding which career clusters interest you allows you to investigate potential careers and potentially establish a few relevant career goals without firmly committing to a specific job or career path. That way, you have the resources available to start making more specific goals but still have plenty of flexibility in case you later realize that this is the wrong field for you.

Where Can I Find Help with My Career Plan?

You’re the only one who can decide what career is right for you. But that doesn’t mean you must take on career planning alone. Many career planning resources are available.

Plenty of high schools offer college and career planning resources to help you move forward after graduation. Talking to your school counselor is often the best way to start, as they have information on local resources that can help you plan your way forward. Your school might also partner with online resources to help you connect with mentors and resources. 

You’ll set, adapt, and refine many career goals. It’s normal not to have your whole career planned out in high school; most people don’t. But developing your initial career goals early on will help you get a head start on your future and lead to a career where you will ultimately thrive.

The Best Career Guide of All Time

Every year, we receive thousands of enquiries from school leavers on the various programmes they can undertake at University and tertiary institutions. Whereas a few of them seem to have reasonable knowledge of post-secondary training, there are numerous students who lack basic but critical information on the foundations of career planning and choice.

We often come across students who insist on studying for a course where they clearly lack basic foundation in academic and attitude preparation. Indeed, there are cases where students have enrolled in certain programmes but later on discover they lack interest in the particular field. The challenges and career opportunities discussed in this Guide are not only confined within Kenya and the East African universities and tertiary institutions but are also global in nature.

This easy-to-read, do-it-yourself Career Information Guide is intended to answer key questions in career planning and eventual choice. The guide will, therefore, address such crucial questions as what is a career, career types, factors that influence career choice and the various career fields to choose from. It will also sensitize the students on the subject requirements for specific career fields. From the enquiries we receive, it has also emerged that over time, some misconceptions have come to surround certain issues related to careers. It is, therefore, necessary to burst these myths and give you the correct position.

I would like to thank the Ministry of Education and Consultants who contributed immensely to make this career guide booklet a reality.

In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to wish the reader a most informed career choice and every success in all your endeavors.


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What is a career?

A career is a job or profession that gives one an opportunity to progress in some ways that are important to a person.

In summary a career:

Is very important to you.

Constitutes your purpose.

Is a process of your self-discovery, self-expression and self-assertion.

Defines your lifestyle.

Your career should answer the following  questions about yourself:

Who am I?

What am I capable of doing?

What do I want to become?

A career involves transforming your dreams and wishes into achievements and believing in yourself and your unique talents and characteristics. It also means turning your aspirations into achievements and believing that you can become anything you aspire to be.

Why do you need a career?

You need a career to:

Earn a living

Fulfill a demand for skilled labour

Enhance your skills

Propagate your knowledge and skills

Create wealth

Keep fit and healthy

Make personal contribution to society

Fulfill your purpose in life

Focusing on Career Goals

The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It’s to have the discipline when there are so many competing things. Alexa Hirschfield Unlike the hyena, the lion is a super predator. It often selects its prey from a herd. It does not necessarily choose the weakest animal. Once it has locked its vision on one animal, it gives a chase to the very end. It does not change its mind even if it by-passes a slower animal. This is how focused people chase their dream careers by shutting out all distractions. So, how do you chase your dream?

Have a specific goal

People who succeed know exactly what they want in life. They do not entertain any distraction or confusion. A specific goal ensures that you do not waste your time, effort, and resources.

Visualize your goals

Create a mental picture of what you want to be. That which can be easily visualized, can be easily actualized. In your vision, address the following questions:

  • •             Whom will I be 10 years from now?
  • •             Where will I be?
  • •             Who will be with me?
  • •             Where will I be living?
  • •             Where will I be going for holidays?
  • •             What type of a car will I be driving?
  • •             How much will I be earning?

When you talk about your goals, they begin to take a vivid shape. Be cautious of pessimists who will always reduce the size of your goals and show you problems in every situation. Seek guidance from your parents, teachers, guardians mentors and professionals. There is no short cut to hard work. It is not enough to dream and do nothing. You must wake up and work out your dreams.

Be Determined

Determination is the source of momentum in your studies. You can only overcome challenges and obstacles in your career path with determination. Nobody ever became a champion  without obstacles. Some people give up easily when faced with obstacles. Success is judged by how you finish and not how you start.

Value yourself

This is your sense of personal worth. Be convinced of your ability to achieve your career goals. People with low self-esteem don’t set high goals.  Your self-esteem is the source of motivation and confidence that are necessary for you to achieve your career dreams. God created you for a purpose. Build certain values around yourself such as diligence and hard work.

Have a good mentor

Mentors are people who have succeeded in the field you want to pursue. If you admire good mentors, they will influence you positively towards your goals. Mentors are a source of inspiration. By sharing with your mentors, it becomes easy to know the challenges and opportunities in your chosen career.

Think positively

If you think positively about your career path you will attract positive results. Think big. Avoid prophets of doom who thrive on discouraging others.

Career Types and Personalities

Face the facts squarely. Ask yourself definite questions and demand direct replies.

Napoleon Hill You may have realized that certain people never fit in certain jobs no matter how qualified or hard they work. For example, some people find it difficult to sit down in offices the whole day. They are at their best and happiest working out-doors with their hands. This is because we all have different traits which determine whom we actually are. There are six broad career types in which different people fit. These are the realistic, investigative, artistic, social careers, enterprising and conventional careers.

1. Realistic careers

These are the skills and technicalorient-ed jobs. Work here involves tangible and practical skills where people work with tools, machines, plants and animals. The people in these jobs are highly practical and physically strong. They often enjoy dealing with things rather than people. They are good in technical subjects such as:

Agriculture, Metalwork, Woodwork, Homescience, Technical Drawing, Drawing and Design among others.

They excel in:

  • •             All kinds of engineering such as electrical mechanical and Agricultural engineering
  • •             Wildlife management
  • •             Wood science and technology
  • •             Armed forces and related careers

2. Investigative careers

The professionals here are scientific and laboratory-oriented. They have a high curiosity, intellectual input and empirical approach to issues. Their work involves analyzing facts, solving puzzles, dealing with charts, numbers, formulae, graphs and data processing. These people enjoy observing, studying, analyzing, interpreting and solving complex challenges. They do well in leadership positions, social gatherings and activities.

They are good in:

  • •             Mathematics and the sciences
  • •             Business studies

They excel in:

  • •             Medicine
  • •             Architecture
  • •             Microbiology and related courses
  • •             Criminal investigations
  • •             Accounting, statisticaI analysis money, financial and related fields
  • •             Veterinary, zoology and related fields
  • •             Computer science and information communication technology

3. Artistic careers

Those who excel in these careers are arts-oriented, creative, expressive and aesthetically conscious. Their jobs involve a lot of imagination. Consequently, those who excel here are highly original, emotional, non conforming, unconventional, independent, idealist and introspective. They take risks and like producing distinct products.

They are good in:

  • •             Languages
  • •             Literature
  • •             Drawing and design
  • •             Music

They excel in:

  • •             Drama and theatre arts
  • •             Graphic designing
  • •             Literary studies
  • •             Writing, painting and poetry
  • •             Acting
  • •             Home decorating, fabric designing
  • •             Photography, singing, drawing cartoons

4. Social careers

These involve working with people. Those who excel here have an inner urge for helping others. They like training,                 informing, enlightening, arbitrating and organizing other people. They are sociable, friendly, understanding, empathetic, generous, helpful, cooperative, responsible and hard Working. Often, they are sober, welfare - minded and articulate.

They are good in:

  • •             Languages
  • •             Literature
  • •             Humanities

They can also be good in the sciences if they put more interest and effort in them.

They excel in:

  • •             Administration
  • •             Education
  • •             Law
  • •             Theology
  • •             Journalism and mass communication
  • •             Human and public relations
  • •             Political science and related fields
  • •             Counseling

5. Enterprising careers

These careers involve influencing and persuading other people. There is a lot of goal and profit orientation in these jobs. Those who excel are enterprising, ambitious, talkative, argumentative and domineering people. They are also energetic, self-confident, optimistic, sociable, competitive,          impulsive, and persuasive. They enjoy chairing meetings and committees. Often they run for elected offices, head important functions, and motivate others.

They are good in:

  • •             Mathematics
  • •             Business studies
  • •             Science

They excel in:

  • •             Business management
  • •             Sales and marketing
  • •             Hotel management
  • •             Politics
  • •             Industrial consultancy and related fields

6. Conventional careers

The careers here involve highly orderly, routine and practical jobs. Often, there are some inflexible activities. Those who excel have a common denominator of being obedient, practical, calm and orderly. They are also efficient and conforming.

They are good in:

  • •             Business studies
  • •             Computer and office practice
  • •             Home science
  • •             Sciences

They excel in:

  • •             Accounting
  • •             Bookkeeping
  • •             Auditing
  • •             Statistics
  • •             Inventory control
  • •             Store keeping
  • •             Secretarial
  • •             Office management and
  • •             Computer operations

7. Adventuring

This involves being involved in situations and tasks that require physical endurance, competing with others, and some degree of risk-taking. People with this career interest enjoy involvement in athletics, working in the military/ law enforcement professions and participating in risky and adventurous events. They usually get satisfaction from competing with others where they have opportunities to win and/or win by working with others in a team. They often seek out excitement and are generally quite confident in their physical abilities and skills.

Steps in Choosing a Career...

I am not a product of my circumstances.  I am a product of my decisions. Stephen Covey----To make a good career choice, start with yourself. You need to consider your interests, abilities, and preferences and then plan your career choices accordingly.

There are five steps that you can follow:

Identify careers related to your interests, abilities, and preferences. 

Planning your career depends on the quality of career information available to you. As you begin to explore your career options, consider the following resources and strategies:

  • •             Ask the librarian or the school career office about books and pamphlets on careers.
  • •             Join a club that undertakes activities in the line of what you want to be. For example, wildlife club can be a good entry into agricultural and environmental sciences.
  • •             Visit a place where people do the kind of work you are interested in.
  • •             Use the Internet to research for fields of your interest.
  • •             Try out a hobby or volunteer to work in areas related to the kind of careers you are interested in.
  • •             Contact professional groups such as the Law Society of Kenya, Association of Kenyan Insurers, Architectural
  • •             Association of Kenya etc for more career information.

Narrow down your choices to a few careers for further exploration. As you narrow down your list of potential careers, think of the following questions:

  • •             What careers are likely to provide me with short-term and long-term satisfaction?
  • •             Are there careers that seem to reflect my interests, abilities and preferences better than others?
  • •             What is the future of the careers that I am considering?
  • •             Am I willing to get the education background and training to get into the careers I am interested in?
  • •             What are the positive and negative factors associated with each career that I am considering?

Get the right preparation for your career

Consider now how to get the right preparation to your dream career.

Preparation includes choosing the right subjects at form three that institutions of higher education require to train you in a particular career. Some jobs require apprenticeship, vocational technical training, two-year college training, or four years at university. These are in addition to the KCSE level of education.

Increasing demand for specialization

It is important to realize that some jobs are on the decline as you make your career choices. For example, clerical and other secretarial jobs are fading away fast as a result of computerization. From the traditional ‘’specialized professions ” like doctors, and accountants, information technology and engineering, business management and consultancy are the professions in demand now.

Universal skills

Irrespective of the career you choose, there are universal skills and qualities that you need. And the earlier you develop them the better. These are:

  • •             Computer literacy
  • •             Presentation skills  (written & oral)
  • •             English language skills
  • •             Basic mathematics and numeracy skills • Intelligence
  • •             Self confidence
  • •             Willingness to accept responsibility
  • •             Innovation- can you bring new ideas and suggestions?
  • •             Inter-personal skills can you get along with other people?
  • •             Ability to handle conflict.
  • •             Honesty
  • •             Organisation
  • •             Career ambition
  • •             Persuasiveness

From the foregoing, your career choice is a process, not an event. It takes time and many amendments and reconsideration.

Your Career choice is an Individual choice

It is you alone who will live with your desired career and not other people.

But other people can be of great help to you.

They include:

  • •             Your teachers who can guide you and give you information.
  • •             Your parents who can help you make up your mind & introduce you to  career.
  • •             People in the fields you desire to join.
  • •             At times you can be wrong and your teachers and parents right.

Frequently Asked Questions about Careers in Kenya

Question: What is the cutoff point for admission to university?

The cut-off point refers to the least points required for one to be admitted to public universities under government scholarships. The points are fixed by the public universities’ Joint Admissions Board. In the last two years, the cutoff points have been 67 for boys and 65 for girls. The points, however, vary depending on the government-sponsored slots available in the specific year and the performance in the KCSE examination for the year.

Question: Can I get a University education if I don’t meet the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service cutoff points?

Anybody who scores grade C Plus and above qualifies to join either private or public universities under the self-sponsored programme.

Question: What is bridging?

A bridging course is a short pre-university programme in which students uplift their cluster subjects that they did not do well in KCSE prior to joining the self-sponsored degree course. For example, the four cluster subjects for enrolling in any degree course. The minimum score in each of these four cluster subjects is C Plus. Bridging will be recommended in a subject where the score is less than C Plus.

Question: Can I ever get into university if I score less than C Plus in KCSE?

Yes, you can but you will follow a different route from those who score the minimum university entry grade. Some professionals with the highest level of university education today started with certificate courses. They then upgraded their skills by going through diploma and degree courses. If you may have to follow this route, the only limitation in getting into a university is you.

Question: I want to be a doctor. I am good in science subjects but very poor in mathematics. Can I qualify?

You have a big task ahead of you. The cluster subjects for doing medicine are Maths / Physics, Biology and Chemistry. Other subjects are English or Kiswahili or any other that you will have performed well, but to get admitted to university in the first place you need some minimum aggregate points from the seven subjects that will be counted in your KCSE. And the counting takes into consideration the following seven subjects:

  • •             Mathematics
  • •             English
  • •             Kiswahili
  • •             Two science subjects
  • •             One humanity subject
  • •             Any other subject you have done well (a second humanity or a third science or business studies or a technical subject or a foreign language).

Note that the score in Mathematics, English, Kiswahili, two science subjects and at least one humanity subject must be counted even if you score a grade E in them. These are the core subjects. This is how a low score in Mathematics can harm you and deny you the raw cluster points for pursuing Medicine. Dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to Mathematics and score at least a C Plus grade in it and in the other three subjects of the cluster.

Question: Which subjects are known as boosters?

These are the non-core subjects in your KCSE grading. Actually, a booster is the seventh subject that is counted while the Kenya National Examinations Council is computing your mean grade. So, work hard in that booster subject for it to improve your overall mean grade.

Question: When choosing a career, am I supposed to base it on my Interests or on the subjects that I do well?

You need to consider both your interests and the subjects that you do well in your career decision. But at times your interests may be at variance with the subjects required to pursue certain courses. In such cases, you have to change your mind and go where your academic abilities lead you.

Question: I am fairly good in all subjects but the problem is that I have never been able to pinpoint what I can do. What career should I follow?

At this level of secondary school, you can think of a few careers. Make an honest soul search and write down at least four careers you think you can do. Examine each in turn by speaking with people in it, visiting the actual workplace and reading all information about the job. This way, you can narrow down your choices to one or two.

Question; Can I study Medicine with Physics and Chemistry only without Biology?

No! All careers dealing with living things, such as Medicine, forestry and fisheries require one to have studied Biology at the secondary school level. In the same way, all kinds of engineering require Physics.


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