A Survey Of Career Choice Determinants Among Secondary School Students

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A Survey Of Career Choice Determinants Among Secondary School Students


Career selection is one of many important choices students will make in determining future plans; this decision will impact them throughout their lives. This has constituted a problem as students often make wrong choice. But presently there is scanty research on the influencing factors such as gender, home background and student learning outcome on choice of career among secondary school students. Hence, this study was prompted by the present problems of change of subjects and course among students and undergraduates in the Nigeria secondary schools and universities respectively. The aim of the investigation is to find out if there exists some significant relationship between gender, home background and student learning outcome on student’s choice of career. It is also the intension of the researcher to identify some of the parental factors that influence student’s educational aspiration, such as: Educational and professional background, Economic factor, occupational and cultural factors. To accomplish the task, questionnaires were distributed and data collected. The total number of 110 student, were administered to in the four school used for the study. Information concerning student’s career choice and parent’s occupation and educational background, Economic status and cultural background were derived from the questionnaire. Data collected were analyzed using mean and frequency analysis. Students with involved parents no matter what their income and background are more likely to make more rational career choice.

Also parents who are actively involved in their children education, helps to guide the children career choice. Parents should not allow their professional and educational background to overwhelm their children intellectual abilities in making choice of career. Parents should not encourage their children to choose high rated occupation because of its or their Economic Status but should engage more in guiding them to choose courses that suit their intellectual abilities.

Intelligent children from poor socio-economic background should be encouraged by the government to take professional courses through scholarship, which will help them, enhance to a brighter future. Teachers should also be allowed to identify the best course for each child through continuous assessment and career counselling. Orientation workshops and seminars should be organized for parents and students aimed at changing their mind set on gender streaming.

Sources of influence, such as parents or mentors, should be brought into a circle of counselling and discussion to help the student form a comprehensive career plan. Industries should invest resources for the purpose of training students, while still in secondary schools. Students should follow a career plan of informed decision-making, rather than one of hypothesis. Teachers should also avoid being gender-biased in their appraisal of performance in class.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of Study

Career choice has become a complex science with the advent of information technology, the emergency of post industrial revolution and job competition. And as such, education is universally recognised to be the answer to socio-economic problems of the world. Nation and individuals look up to education to provide a clue or possibly, a cure for poverty, ignorance, jobless, hunger, bad governance, poor communication system and inadequate shelter among other things. Every nation of the world aspires towards quality of life and social status. Most student who are in secondary schools do not have adequate information about occupational opportunities to help them make appropriate career choice. This has led to so many swing of career path after graduation from the university. Hence, this has highlighted career selection as one of many important choice students make in determining future plans; these decisions will impart them throughout their lives. Hence it is important to figure out the factors or determinant of career choice among secondary school student; so as to see if it can help to guide student to make the right and rational career choice. Thus, with the advent of information technology, the emergence of postindustrial revolutions and job competition, the choice of career has become a complex science (Okafor, 2012).

These have given risen interest to scholars on the factors influencing career choice not just among student alone, but among adults. The essence of who the student is, will revolve around what the students want to do with their lifelong work. No matter one’s age, the choice of career or desire is an important question for everybody. A lot of students in secondary schools believe that their future is a glorious adventure in which they are bound to succeed (salami and salami, 2013). Many of them have the idea that they would be able to work in the public or private establishments as soon as they complete their secondary education. Student in secondary schools like many other young adult are always worried about what they will do with their lives, the kind of adult are always worried about what they will do with their lives, the kind of adult they will become. They are concerned about early entry into the occupational world and finding productive and rewarding place in and out rapidly, fast changing societies where employment is unlikely to be available on a scale sufficient to absorb more than a small fraction of the young people when they do arrive at the labour market. How the young people of today meet the problem for tomorrow ill depend upon the amount of success they make in planning for that tomorrow.

Today one has not only to make due career planning but also exhaustive career research before making a career choice so as to adjust with the evolving socio-economic conditions. (Wattles, 2009). According to Kerka (2000), career choice is influenced by multiple factors which include personality, interest, self-concept, cultural identity, globalization, socialization, role model, social support and available resource such as information and finances. Hewitt (2010), suggested that most people are influenced by career that their parent favour, others follow the career that their educational choice have opened for them, some choice to follow their passion regardless of how much or little it will make them; while others choose the career that gives high income. McQuaid and Bond (2003) cited that student perception of being suitable for particular jobs also has been found to be influenced by a number of factors which include ethnic background, years in school, level of achievement, choice of science subject, attitudes and difference in job characteristics. However, research show that the choice of career among secondary school student is determined by a combination of personal abilities, personality type and other factors (Okafor, 2012). This is why Onayase and Onayase, (2009) suggested an investigation into other factors which include some environmental factor such as family background, school environment, religious and peer group influence. Career according to Cambridge Advance Learner’s Dictionary (2005) refers to ‘‘job or series of job that you do during your working life’’.

Thus, choosing a career, simply means choosing a life job. However, all career have their subject requirement, personality characteristic and personal abilities while are supposed to be fully assessed before individual can be deemed to be qualified to go into specific career (Onayase and Onayase, 2009). Career choice is influence by multiple factors include personality, interest, self concept, identity, globalization, socialization, role model, social support and available resources such as information and finance (Kerka, 2000). Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, Pastorell, 2001) cited that each individual undertaking the process is influenced by several factors including the context in which they live in, their personal aptitudes, social contacts and educational attainment.

Hence, factors that influence career choice can either be intrinsic or extrinsic or both. Most people are influenced by career that their parent favour, other follow the career that their educational choice have opened for them, some choose to follow their passion regardless of how much or little it will make them while other choose careers that give high income. Student percept of being suitable for particular jobs also has been found to be influence by a number of factors including ethnic background, year in school, level of achievement, choice of science subject, attitudes and differences in job characteristic(McQuaid and Bond, 2003). In a study by Perrone, Sedlacek and Alexander (2001) on role model influence on the career decisiveness of college students it was found that role model supportiveness and quality of relationship contributed to the career choice of students. The same study indicated that majority of the student selected same gender. In a study by Natalie (2006), young adult through interaction with the context of family, school and community learn about and explore career which ultimately lead to their career choice. One consistent finding in research suggests that adolescent aspirations are influenced by their parent’s aspiration or expectations. Parental support and encouragement are important factors that have been found to influence career choice. Children may choose what their parents desire simply to please them (Taylor, Harris and Taylor, 2004). According to Oyamo and Amoth (2008), studies in Kenya showed that rural students tend to seek help from parents more than urban students and that parents more than teachers plays a major role in the career choice of students.

Hence, Okafor (2012) cited that generally, the choice of a career is influenced by parents, friends and counsellors. Variations occur from one population to the other. In Kenya, every secondary school student (SSS) makes their career choice before sitting for West African Examination Council (WAEC). The result of this final examination determining who Joins University since admission into careers are determined by grades obtained from it. When these students graduate from the universities, some of them enter into occupations that are totally different from the ones they had chosen and training for. The aim of this study is to look at how gender, home background and student learning outcome influence choice of career among secondary school students in Nigeria, using some selected schools in Oshodi Local Government Area of Lagos state as a case study.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Nigeria is rapidly developing her technological education, which has made the society more complex than it was in the past. The number of occupation has increased greatly and also there are many careers within one occupation. For instance, farming which was a simple occupation some years ago is now a very complex occupation within many careers to choose from.

These included poultry, farming vegetable farming, e.t.c the implication of this is specialization. This is why the family, peer group, school environment and even the larger society influence the decision any student might make in choosing a life career. This constitutes a problem as students often make wrong choice.

But presently there is scanty research on the influence of environment factors such as gender, home background and student learning outcome on choice of career among secondary school students.

1.3 Research Questions

The study was guided by the following sub-research questions:

  1. What is the level of family influence on careerpathways?
  2. What is the impact of gender on careerchoices?
  3. To what extent does the school influence students on careerchoices?
  4. What is the level of peer influence on students’ careerchoices?
  5. What strategies can be used to assist students in making appropriate careerchoices?

1.4 Objectives of Study

  1. Investigate the level of family influence on careerpathways;
  2. Determine the impact of gender on careerchoices;
  3. Establish whether the school environment influences careerpathways;
  4. Find out whether peers have influence on students’ careerchoices;
  5. Develop strategies that may be used to assist students in making appropriate career choices.

1.5 Significance of the Study

It has been recognized recently that for a person to make realistic decision, his level of self-efficacy can indeed be very influential. It is one thing to demonstrate interest in a particular occupational field; it is another thing to have confidence in one’s ability to successfully undertake the task involved.

Most students who are in secondary school do not have enough information about occupational opportunities to help them make rational and appropriate career choice. Hence this research work is sought to help the student understand and explore other options in making career choice.

A student tends to learn and accept information more from their teacher. Hence an uninformed teacher will tend to mislead or shy away from counselling the student with respect to career choice. This research seeks to help teachers to explore real career possibility of each student and guide them accordingly putting certain factors into cogniscience.

Teachers will guide and counsel student from their own perspective. If there are no laid down guideline by the school system. Hence this research seeks to help curriculum developer to understand the role of career choice to student and to help inculcate it in the curriculum of the school. This will in turn help the student explore the career opportunities available and make rational choice of career.

1.6 Scope of the Study

It would have been ideal to stretch the scope of this study to cover more schools in the chosen local government (Oshodi Local Government Area) in Lagos state, but for the minimum resources available and time factor, the area of the study of this project is limited to four (4) schools under Oshodi Local Government Area in Lagos state namely: Oshodi junior high school; Oshodi comprehensive junior high school; Mafoluku grammer school; Bolade senior grammer school.

1.7 Definition of Terms

For clarity, the terms used in the study were clarified as follows:

Career Choice:

The broad opportunities that exist for lifelong vocations. These vocations are set out in a frame work of strategies moving towards personal goals.


The complex physical factors that make up our surrounding (Britannica, 2002) and in turn act upon us for the purpose of this study they would include the forces of family, social and economic issues that both typical and non-typical students may deal with on a day-to-day basis.


A characteristics way of thinking, feeling and behaving (Britannica, 2002). The personality is the collection of impression in the appearance of the student’s body and the impression believed to have been made on others, good or bad. Ones personality may embrace attitudes and opinions that affect the way we deal with interactions of people and in particular to this study, the situation of choosing a career.


Not biological in nature but psychological, psychomotor feature or attributes associated to an individual weather male or female by sex.


The custom, arts, social and religious institutions and achievement of a particular people or nation.


The people one lives with and sees daily.


Peers are adolescents who are about the same age of maturity level.


In this study, it refers to individuals who are officially admitted and registered in the secondary and non-secondary school system as full time candidates.

1.8 Organization of the Study

The study comprises of five chapters.

  1. Chapter one consists of the background to the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, objectives, research questions, significance, limitation of the study, delimitation of the study, basic assumptions, definitions of key terms and organization of the study.
  2. Chapter two comprises of literature review theoretical and conceptual frameworks.
  3. Chapter three deals with research methodology, covering research sampling, procedures, research instruments and their validity and reliability, procedures for data collection and data analysis.
  4. Chapter four comprises of findings and discussions which were generated by the study.
  5. Chapter five presents summary, conclusions and recommendations.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusions

The essence of the study was to establish factors that influence the choice of career pathways among high school students in Nigeria. As reflected by the findings of the study, it can be concluded that the family has a significant role in influencing students’ career choices. Parental education and careers, parental encouragement and advice are critical in students’ choices of careers.

It can also be concluded that schools play a pivotal role in students’ choices of careers. Career guidance, career guidance teachers, class teachers, the subjects students do at school and the location of the school were found to influence students’ choices of careers.

It can also be concluded that gender has no influence in students’ choices of careers. The findings of the study revealed that both male and female students were interested in the same careers and are equally competent in the subjects they do at school. Both male and female role models are influential in students’ choices of careers.

The study further concluded that peers have a significant role in students’ choices of careers. Peer advice and encouragement, as reflected by the study, are important in students’ choices of careers.

The subsequent section presents the contribution of the study.

5.2 Contribution of the Study

The current study on factors influencing the choices of careers of high school students may be the first of its kind to be carried out in Nigeria. The study makes a significant contribution to the body of knowledge as it investigated the factors that influence the choices of careers among high school students in Nigeria. Career guidance teachers and teachers in general can benefit from the findings of the current study by enriching their knowledge and skills on implementing career guidance issues.

The study may be used by other researchers in the same field or similar fields as a baseline study or a spring board to their studies. The government of Nigeria may also benefit from the current study when designing a career guidance curriculum for both high and primary schools.

5.3 Recommendations

Based on the findings of the study on factors influencing the career choices of students, the following recommendations, from both the literature review and the findings from the empirical study, are made:

5.3.1 Policy and legislation

There is a need to review the career guidance curriculum to consider factors that influence students’ choices of careers. There should be a paradigm shift from the career guidance teacher as the sole provider of career guidance in schools. It is therefore recommended that clear policy on who should teach career guidance and the actual provision of career guidance in schools be put in place.

The policy would cover aspect such as:

  1. Mandatory training of career guidance teachers,
  2. Introducing a compulsory module in teachers training colleges that will assist teachers to effectively guide students towards their careers,
  3. Parental involvement in guiding students towards their careers,
  4. Consultation with students, parents and industry when designing career guidance syllabus,
  5. Availing resources, both financial and material, to enable the schools to implement career guidance activities in schools.
5.3.2 Practice Planning

Career guidance activities, including field trips which are critical in marrying theory to practice, need to be planned prior to the opening of schools. If field trips are poorly organised, they will not benefit the students. It is therefore recommended that field trips be part of career guidance activities and be planned well in advance for them to be effective. School career guidance teachers’ training

It is recommended that career guidance teachers be trained to equip them with necessary skills that enhance teaching in the classroom. Teachers’ colleges and universities should comprehensively train their students in career guidance to enable them to be competent when engaging their students in career guidance activities. It is further recommended that staff development of career guidance teachers be prioritised to enhance competitiveness of teachers when executing their duties as career guidance practitioners. Training of parents’ career guidance skills

Since parental involvement is inevitable, the current study recommends that parents be trained in career guidance. Special community programmes, initiated by the schools, may be organised to help parents guide their children. Universities and other institutions of tertiary learning may introduce short courses on career guidance. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education may prepare literature on career guidance on pamphlets that would be distributed to parents. Training of peers

It is important that peers receive training in career guidance. Peer training may be done in schools. As students receive career guidance in schools, activities such as peer training may be introduced where students are trained to help fellow students in career guidance. Such initiatives may include career guidance and field trip organisation. Libraries should be equipped with literature that helps learners to gain insight in career guidance.

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