What Is a Career Development Path?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2019
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A career development path is a general term used to describe the progression of jobs that one has or would like to have over the course of his life. In many cases, it involves a plan of attaining a higher rank within one's profession or at a certain business. In some cases, career development begins in high school or earlier when students are asked to make decisions about their future educational or work plans. In other cases, businesses might have formalized career development paths that demonstrate what employees need to achieve and what education they must have in order to advance. The ability to advance one's career generally depends on experience, seniority, education, and a variety of other factors.

Plotting out one's career development path depends on a variety of different factors. One must, first of all, have a very good idea of his own interests, goals, and lifestyle choices. One must also have deep knowledge of the expectations associated with potential career choices. Ideally, an individual will be able to match these two factors relatively well at some point during his career development path. Compromises may be necessary, but detailed knowledge of one's goals and of available options, combined with the will to succeed, can generally lead one along a satisfactory career development path.


A career development path may be designed by many different people within a company, but an individual typically is responsible for keeping track of his own career development goals and desires. Managers, though, are often responsible for recognizing the skills and particular contributions of their employees in order to judge how each individual would perform in more advanced roles. They are also responsible for connecting the needs of the company to the experience and skills of the employees. Some companies have human resources departments that advise employees on how best to achieve their career objectives and to advance their career development paths.

There are many different sociological and psychological theories concerning an individual's chosen career development path. The importance of career development in such fields is rooted in the fact that, for many people in modern society, one's identity is defined by one's career. A career identity path, then, is just as much a planned progression of identity as it is a planned progression of work. Different theories of career development tend to explore social, emotional, financial, and other factors that influence one's career development path.


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Post 2

@spotiche5- I think that the answer to your question depends on what type of law job your niece is interested in pursing. For example, if she prefers becoming a cop or a detective over working as a legal assistant, her career path will focus on learning investigative and hands-on strategies over law application and history.

Because her career development path will vary depending on what your niece wants to do with her life, she should start early by getting advice from an academic adviser. He or she will be able to help her get started on her career path with the right training that will lead to a job that your niece will love.

Post 1

I have a niece who is trying to figure the best career development path for a future job in the field of law. Her main problem is that though she loves the field, she doesn't really want to spend the years in college that it would take to become a lawyer. What are some tips I can give her that will put her on the path to a law career in a rewarding job?

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