There are many careers to choose from – you could become a chef, an artist, actor, singer or musician, a tour-guide, a bricklayer, carpenter or welder, a magistrate, attorney, doctor or teacher, a nurse, an aeroplane pilot, an engineer, a scientist, a technician, or an author or publisher, a secretary or development worker. These are just a few. With so many options available, narrowing your choices down to something that you can imagine yourself doing for many years can seem difficult.

This website tries to show you that it can be exciting to look at where your abilities and interests lie. It provides you with information that will enable you to start looking at your potions and planning for your career.

It is important to see your career and planning for your career as processes that will unfold over many years. Your career is something that you need to work on little by little. Start with thinking ahead to what you would like to be doing one day. Find all the information you need to work out how to reach your goal. Then start taking one little step at a time.

A good place to start making your first decisions about your career is to ask questions and seek advice. The more questions you ask yourself and others, the clearer your vision for your future will become. This section asks you to look inward, to focus on getting to know yourself and your interests. It also encourages you to look outward at the workplace. Once you have an idea of who you are and what the options are in the workplace, you will find planning easier.


If you are reading this section, you have probably experienced a number of years at school. You have also been exposed to different school subjects. Think about which subjects appeal to you. What do you like about the particular subjects? Different school subjects are linked to different kinds of careers. Refer to the table below and see if anything interests you.

Subjects / Fields of Study Examples of Career Opportunities
Agriculture Farm management, Nature conservation: Horticulturist, Agricultural Technician, Agricultural Engineer, Farmer, Landscape Engineer, Educator
Equine studies Veterinarian, Jockey, Horse Owner, Horse Breeder, Horse Rider
Civil Technology Draughting, Shop Fitting, Cabinet-making, Carpentry and Joinery, Plumbing, Bricklaying and Plastering
Engineering Graphics and Design Architecture, Plan Drawing, Electrical Draughtsperson, Mechanical Draughtsperson, Designer (furniture, automobiles, aeronautics)
Nautical Sciences Deck Hand, Deck Officer, Harbour Master, Ship’s Mate, Mate Coastal, Master Captain, Master Coastal, Yacht Captain, Navigator, Tug Master
Mechanical Technology Automotor Technician, Aircraft Technician, Automotor Mechanic, Boiler-maker, Earthmoving equipment Mechanic, Fitter and Turner, Welder
Electrical Technology Electrician, Auto-electrician, Electrical Fitter, Electrical Draughtsperson, Electrical or Electronics Technician, Electrical or Electronics Technologist
Mathematics Medical Doctor, Teacher, Pharmacist, Physicist, Actuary, Dentist, Town Planner, Astronomist, Engineer, Technologist, Technician, Architect, Scientist, Aeroplane Pilot, Information-Technology Specialist
Physical Sciences Medical Doctor, Teacher, Pharmacist, Physicist, Actuary, Dentist, Town Planner, Astronomist, Engineer, Technologist, Technician, Architect, Scientist, Aeroplane Pilot, Information-Technology Specialist
Computer Technology Database-Designer, Information-Technology Specialist, Computer Technician, Software Engineer, Computer Programmer, Teacher
Life Sciences Marine Biologist, Microbiologist, Bio-Chemist, Ecologist, Physiologist, Botanist, Zoologist, Pharmacist, Teacher
Economics Chartered Accountant, Economist, Tax Consultant, Auditor, Stock Broker, Budget Analyst, Business Analyst, Investment Analyst, Market Researcher, Bookkeeper, Teacher
Accounting Chartered Accountant, State Accountant, Financial Accountant, Bookkeeper, Banking Services, Production Manager, Industrial Buyer, Retail Sales Executive, Systems Analyst, Auctioneer, Chief Financial Officer, Teacher
History Journalist, Public Relations Specialist, Researcher, Tourism Practitioner, Archaeologist, Historian, Legal Practitioner, Teacher, Politics, Diplomatic Corps, Librarianship, Marketing, Tourism
Geography Environmental Planning, Environmental Journalism, Town Planning, Rural and Urban Planning, Map Making, Weather Bureau, Conservationist, Geographical Information Services
Religious Studies Religious work, Social work, Development work, Human Rights work, Teacher, Researcher, Community Service work, Government Chaplains
Tourism, Hospitality Studies, Consumer Studies Tour Guide, Tour Company, Tour Information Officer, Airline Steward or Stewardess, Flight Attendant, Cruise Ship Staff, Restaurant Manager, Hotel Manager, Chef, Bartender, Waitron (restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, fast food outlets, bed-and-breakfast establishments), Food and Beverage Manager, Banqueting Manager, Entrepreneur, Product Developer, Car Hire company, Events Management, Tourism Board, Travel Agent, Fashion Designer
Design Graphic Designer, Website Designer, Digital Designer, Industrial designer, Architect, Fashion Designer, Textile Designer, Craftsperson, Photographer
Music Musician, Singer, Recording Studio Technician, Composer, Music Teacher, Sound Technician, Arts Management
Dramatic Arts, Television Studies and Dance Studies Actor (stage, TV, movies), Director, TV Producer, TV Announcer, Radio Announcer, Set/Costume/ Lighting/ Sound Design, Arts Management, Cultural Tourism Management, Speech Therapy, Public Relations Officer, Media Relations Coordinator, Dancer, Choreographer, Drama or Dance Teacher, Critic, Dance Administrator, Aerobics Instructor, Dance Therapist, Fashion Show Director
Visual Arts Artist, desktop Publisher, Curator of an Art Gallery, Art Historian, Critic, Arts Manager, Teacher, Visual Communications, Video Producer, Photographer, Digital designer, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Craft Industry, Art Material Retailer, Framer, Cultural Tourism Industry
Languages Interpreter, Journalist, Media Broadcaster, Author, Publisher, Editor, Tour Guide, Translator, Teacher


An important step for your planning process for the future is to understand yourself. You have just looked at a range of career options – some of which appeal to you more than others. What is it about the areas of learning and work that interest you?

Make some time to stop and think about what your interests, strengths and weaknesses are. Also, do our Interest Questionnaire. It is important to be honest with yourself when completing this exercise. What are you really good at and which of your skills need improvement? Are you creative? Are you really good at solving problems? Would you prefer to spend your days outdoors? Do you enjoy working with people? Do you enjoy writing, or working with your hands? Do activities that require deep thinking excite you? These are just examples of questions to ask yourself – you can think of other questions. It is often what interests you the most that will provide the key to your future career.

Make a list of things that interest you, and your strengths and weaknesses. Try ‘free-writing’ or ‘journaling’ where you just write whatever comes into your head – do not censor it.

Sometimes it is difficult to identify your own strengths and weaknesses. Try asking a family member, friend, teacher, or anyone in your community – anyone you trust and respect – about what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. You may or may not agree with the reflections of others. Use whichever insights you think are useful, to point you in the right direction.

Next, you need to think about what your aspirations are, and what you visualise for yourself in life. It is likely that you will spend most of your life at work, so it is important that you enjoy what you do. Finding a meaningful job can add great value and enjoyment to your life. What do you feel passionate about? What is important to you? What would you like to achieve in life?

Here are some questions to get you started:

If I could do anything in the world what would it be?E.g.: I want to be a film maker or become an entertainment lawyerWhat am I good at?

E.g.: I am really good at figuring out how to fix household appliances and motor cars

What special skills do I have?

E.g.: I can do sign language

What would I like to contribute to my community or country?

E.g.: I’d like to asset up a clinic for sick babies in my community

Make notes of all your thoughts. By answering these questions you will start to get an idea of the kind of work or field that you might be interested in.

Focus on an area that interests you. You can always come back to your notes later and investigate another option.

For now, choose an interest area, and try to set yourself a goal in that area.

Once you have an idea of your interests, and a goal, you can start planning how to reach your goal.

There are going to be quite a few steps to reaching your goal. First, you need to start building your understanding of the world of work.


You can plan for the kind of life and successes you want.

As you have worked through these sections, you would have considered your interests, strengths, and areas you need to develop. You probably have some note and a potential first focus area for your career – knowing that you can always go back to your notes and chose another area to investigate later.

You have also started to consider different workplaces and to talk to people who could tell you more about particular jobs or work environments. You would have looked at the kinds of work available in different economic sectors in the country.

A next step is to decide on a goal for yourself – which career direction would you like to follow?

As soon as you think that you have found a direction, you can start working out the steps you need to take to reach you goal. Remember that you will be taking many steps. You will have many smaller goals along the way to your end-goal. What is important is that your steps go in the direction of your big goal.

Setting goals

Your planning needs to include setting your big goal and the smaller goals you need to achieve on the way to reaching your end-goal.

It is useful to have these kinds of goals:

  • Immediate goals – what are you going to do towards your career today, or this week?
  • Short-term goals – what do you need to do within the next few months?
  • Medium-term goals – what must you do within the next one-to-three years?
  • Long-term goals – what would you like to achieve in the next five-to-ten years?

Setting goals are important. Obstacles of problems might come up and you need to plan to deal with them. As you plan to work your way through problems, you will learn alot of useful life skills. Knowing your medium and long-term goals will help you to hold onto your long-term vision. Have you done the Careers A – Z and Interest Questionnaire

Top Tip: Sometimes staying on track to achieve your goals is difficult. Ask people for support and help along the way. Start surrounding yourself with people who know your goal, appreciate it and want to help you to achieve it. This support will help motivate you to keep going.


Once you have your goals, you need to plan all the little steps that will help you reach your goals. By putting together a plan of activities or actions, you have a clear vision of where you are going. And you can keep checking in to see that you are on track!

  • Some important actions to consider are:
  • What is the first step? (Interest Questionnaire)
  • Where can I get more information and advice? (Careers A – Z | Work vs. Studies)
  • What do I need to know to achieve my plan?
  • What do I need to do in the next few months?
  • What learning do I need to do now that I will need later?
  • Who or what can help me?
  • How will I pay for my studies? Where can I access funding?

As you start thinking about answers to these questions, you will find your steps forward.


At the end of this planning process, you will probably find taking the actions easier than it seemed before you chose a career direction.

Remember to take one action at a time!


Now that you have some idea of the kind of work you would like to do, it is time to build your understanding of the workplace. It is likely that you will have to develop the skills you need to do the work that you want to do. Before you further your education and training, or apply for a job, you need to have some understanding of the sector, industry, line or field you are aiming to work in (Careers A – Z). It is also useful to know what avenues will be available for your progression over time.

How do you build your understanding of the job or industry in which you would like to work? Ask questions! Speak to people you know who do the kind of work you would like to do. Speak to anyone in your community who could give you advice and find out from them what the job requires.

In your free time, you could try to visit workplaces to find out more about what happens there. You could even try to arrange to ‘job shadow’ someone so that you can learn more from them.

What is job shadowing? Job shadowing can involve working closely with someone in the field in which you are interested. It can also mean that you quietly observe them while they are working. You may be given tasks to do – or you may be left free to take notes or just watch what is happening.

You need to be sensitive to the culture and way of doing things in the workplace you find yourself in. Learning this sensitivity is part of what you need to learn to be successful in the workplace. Even just quietly watching will offer you a chance to see and imagine what it is actually like to do a specific job. You can observe the day-to-day activities, the skills needed and have your questions answered. You will get a feel for the work environment you are in.

You can also do some fact-finding on your own about the field you are interested in. Visit a library or search the internet for more information on the work or field that interests you. The next section gives you some pointers of sources of information.

Sector Educational and Training Authorities (SETA’s)

There are 21 Sector Educational and Training Authorities (SETAs) in South Africa and these SETA’s encourage skills development in their economic areas. This section provides the contact details of these SETA’s.

SETA’s focus on providing skills development and training to people employed or seeking employment in their sectors. They are tasked with developing skills development plans in response to their skills needs in their sectors. They then ensure that training in their sectors is of appropriate quality and at the skills levels needed.

If you know the sector in which the work you are interest in falls, you could visit the website of the SETA or contact its office to find out more about training options in the sector. The SETA’s provide information on quality education and training within their sectors. They can help you to find funding options and avenues to gain new skills while you are working.

The 21 Sector Educational and Training Authorities (SETAs) are:

Agricultural Sector Education and Training Authority (AGRISETA) Website: Phone: 012 301 5611
Banking Sector Education and Training Authority (BANKSETA) Website: Phone: 0861 020 002 Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA) Website: Phone: 0861 100 221
Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA) Website: Phone: 011 265 5900
Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) Website: Phone: 011 726 4026
Education Training and Development Practices (ETDP SETA) Website: Phone: 011 372 3300
Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority (EWSETA) Website: Phone: 011 274 4700
Fibre Processing Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority (FPMSETA) Website: Phone: 011 234 2311
Financial and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authority (FASSET) Website: Phone: 011 476 8570
Food and Beverages Manufacturing Industry Sector Education and Training Authority (FOODBEV) Website: Phone: 011 253 7300
Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA) Website: Phone: 011 607 6907
Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority (INSETA) Website: Phone: 011 544 2000
Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA) Website: Phone: 011 456 8579
Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (MERSETA) Website: Phone: 010 219 3000
Media, Advertising, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA) Website: Phone: 011 805 5115
Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) Website: Phone: 011 630 3500
Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA) Website: Phone: 0861 102 477
Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA) Website: Phone: 012 423 5700
Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SERVICES SETA) Website: Phone: 011 276 9600
Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA) Website: Phone: 011 781 1280
Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (W&RSETA) Website: Phone: 012 622 9500


Another consideration when planning for your future is to think about the specific skills and professionals that South Africa needs to grow its economy.

What are scarce skills?

‘Scarce skills’ are sets of skills developed through a mix of qualifications and work experience, for which there is a need and too few people in the country to supply the skills. The South African Government is trying to build a strong economy by encouraging the development of skills in general and scarce skills in particular. It is also trying to match skills needs with the supply of skills from education and training institutions. If there is a match, people can find employment more easily.

Studying for a scarce skill would not only mean helping your country, but also helping yourself! And you will stand a better chance of finding a job!

Across the country in addition to the usual work, there are several large construction and infrastructure projects underway. The country needs strong electricity supply systems, well –maintained roads, secure housing and clean water, new institutions of learning and campuses, enough suitably-sized and efficient ports and expanded rail and public transport networks, to mention just a few. All of these aspects need highly skilled artisans, technicians, technologists, engineers, project managers, planners and other professionals to plan, build, manage and maintain these facilities. Maintenance of infrastructure provides jobs for life!

There is a critical shortage of engineers, engineering technicians and skilled artisans such as bricklayers, carpenters and joiners, electricians, motor mechanics, lumbers and welders in South Africa.

South Africa’s needs are varied and some of the scarcest skills required include: investment advisors; debt counsellors; agricultural farm managers; earthmoving plant operators; forklift drivers; civil engineers; vetenarians and electrotechnology engineers. There are many other scarce skills – you can view the full list on SAQA’s Career Advice Services website

Perhaps you might want to consider going into one of these areas of work? If you decide to follow a scarce skills route you could increase your chances of finding work.