So you’re struggling to choose a career after KCSE? Well, here is what you should know about making career choices in Kenya.
Career choices in Kenya –career guidance and counselling in kenya guide
Forget the career wheel for a moment – here is what you need to know about making the right career choices in Kenya.
Career guidance for high school students (and post secondary school students)
What is a career?
A Career, also known as career path, is a journey that you take throughout your life. On a career journey, you take up jobs; you build skills; you enrich your knowledge; and you gather experience.A career, therefore, includes education, training, work experience, and community involvement.
This is different from the following: job, occupation, profession, and vocation.
Here are the definitions:
- Job- A job refers to work or a task you do for payment; for example, an electrical technician job.
- Occupation -An Occupation is a line of work with similar tasks. People who get into a given occupation carry out similar functions and register for similar education and training programs. Nursing and teaching are examples of occupation.
- Profession – a profession is an occupation that requires a high level of training and expertise .These two aspects enable professionals to provide service to others.
- Vocation- The word Vocation is derived from Latin word, vocation, which means a call. A vocation refers to an occupation that an individual may feel drawn to pursue. The original meaning and usage had religious or Devine association. In modern usage, the term is used in a non-religious context.
Overall, a career is undertaken in the course of one’s life and gives an individual the chance to utilize his or her skills, interest, knowledge, and ambitions to solve societal problems as well as earn living.
The career path you pursue allows one to participate in the socio-economic development of one’s country, as well as innovate through exposure to new ideas for professional growth.
What is Career guidance?
Career guidance typically refers to the services and every other activity that is intended to assist people at some point in life to make wise educational, training, and lastly occupational choices.
It also includes advice that can help one manage their careers.
Career choices in Kenya – how to choose a career
Choosing a career is not easy but it neither impossible.
First, don’t believe the hype about the best careers in Kenya – no career is better than the other because we all different and we derive happiness and satisfaction from different things.
Admittedly, money is a factor but does paying the highest money make one career better than the other? Not exactly.
The following tips will help you make an informed decision when it comes to comparing the various career choices in Kenya:
What matters most when choosing a career
To me, the most important thing when selecting a career is your passion. Period!
A good example of where passion can take you is the late professor Wangari Maathai.
Who would have believed that professor Wangari Maathai would win the prestigious Nobel peace prize because of her love for trees?
Remember the Nobel peace prize is traditionally awarded to political leaders who have achieved exceptional things in enhancing peace on earth (think of Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Lutuli, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Anwar Sadat, Desmond Tutu, Yasser Arafat, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Barack Obama, and the like).
I’m sure that even Prof. Maathai would not in her wildest dreams have imagined walking away with the biggest prize of them all when she started her journey as an environmental conservationist.
There are other many examples of people who have beaten insurmountable odds because of one thing: passion.
So, in short, if your passion is baking, my friend, go ahead and become the best baker in the world. Likewise, if you find indescribable joy when you see an airplane hovering by, work your socks off until you become the best aerospace engineer, pilot, air hostess, or anything else that makes your heart jump with joy.
And let no-one discourage you that some passions don’t pay- you’ll certainly make money if you’re doing something you derive great satisfaction from (whatever that is).
Reason? You’ll excel! And money follows excellence.. trust me- the best performers at every activity on the planet are very well paid.
I can tell you from experience that if you ignore your passion(s), you’re likely to start regretting and even hating the career you choose at some point down the road even if you will be the richest person on Earth.
Yeah; that is how powerful passion is.
Now, apart from passion(something you’d cherish doing every day without worrying about money), here is what else you should consider when choosing a career in Kenya:
Career choices in Kenya – what else to consider besides your passion
When choosing a career, it’s also important to consider your interests, abilities, skills, personality traits, values, dreams and aspirations, knowledge, gifts, natural talent, and of course, future ambitions.
Below I will explain each of these vital concepts:
· Personal Interests:
An interest is something that intrigues/motives you.
Interests can be developed through classwork, participation in school clubs/community organizations, volunteer work, or even activities you do with family/friends.
For example, you could become curious about wildlife after visiting the national park.
Reading books, watching movies, and interacting with people in various fields can also ignite your interests.
In a nutshell, the process of identifying and developing interest is key in deciding a fitting career path.
These refer to your natural capability to carry out a task based on natural skills, training, or any other knowledge you may have obtained.
Sometimes the term aptitude is used to describe one’s ability.
These are abilities that have been learnt.
For the most part, they are developed by engaging in activities one enjoys.
The bottom-like is: skills enable you to carry out a task and obtain the best possible results.
And the more you practice your skills, the higher the chance of making improvements.
Now, there are a lot of ways to develop your skills- for example, through participating in extracurricular activities, you may become a good sportsperson.
Likewise, if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen with your parent, you may discover that you are good at cake baking.
Taking up voluntary activities in and out of school can as well be helpful.
These refer to a combination of qualities that describe your character, traits, and behavior.
In describing an individual’s personality, one can be said to be talkative, quiet, inquisitive, idealistic, empathetic, introspective, or practical.
For example, most top-rated writers are naturally quiet people (and introverts).
In comparison, politicians are generally outspoken people.
These are the underlying principles and standards of behaviors that determine your priorities and enable you to make decisions- they’re the things you believe to be important in the way you live your life.
Your values influence the choice you make in your life: your choice of friends, the activities you engage in during your spare time, and even your spiritual life.
When the choice you make supports the value you hold, you are satisfied and fulfilled.
In contrast, when they are in conflict, there is unhappiness, regret, and general lack of contentment.
These are envisioned or cherished desires or ambitions that an individual holds dear based on his/her aspirations.
It is your vision or the Big picture– maybe you have a vision of being the most famous astronaut before you die, or of becoming an expert investment banker.
· Gift and talents:
These are natural abilities or skills that an individual has and which give him or her the capability to perform.
Example includes sports (good for careers in sports and security forces), music (advantageous if you want to become a singer), public speaking (great if you want to become a preacher/teacher/salesperson, etc.), and analytical skills (fantastic if you dream of a career in accounting, actuarial science, pure math, data science, etc.).
This is information, facts, and skills acquired through experience, training and education.
It is theoretical/practical grasp of a certain subject.
Why is this crucial? Because you may decide to do a course in an area you’re already knowledgeable in instead of starting a new path.
For instance, if you have some basics in electronics and you find electronics fun, you may find a career in electrical/electronics engineering quite rewarding.
This is a strong desire to move from your current position and achieve something more.
Career ambition describes a desire to move upwards in the career or professional ladder.
Other terms used to describe ambition are drive, enthusiasm, or determination.
To succeed in life, you must purpose to take initiative and make things happen and this is mainly driven by your ambition.
Remember that people who instead wait for things to happen rarely achieve much in life.
Career Planning and Self Assessment in Kenya
Now that you have the basics, how are you supposed to approach the entire process of making the right career choices in Kenya?
Well, the steps you should follow make up what is technically referred to as career planning.
I will explain this next.
The career planning process
The first thing you should do is map your career plan.
But what exactly is a career plan?
Well, a career plan is the roadmap an individual takes with the aim of achieving his/her personal career dreams.
It, therefore, follows that career planning is actually an on—going process where you do the following:
- Identify your interests and abilities;
- Explore the options aligned to those interests and abilities;
- Make a choice; and
- Finally plan how to achieve the given choice- the course to take, when, where to first work, and for how many years, and how to progress from there.
In short, the career planning process must follow a specific plan.
Sadly, many Kenyans start thinking about the career to take depending on the grade they obtain in the KCSE examination.
This is wrong -career planning must continue throughout your learning life!
The world of work is constantly changing meaning that you can only be successful if you’re properly prepared to adapt to these changes.
Quick Tip: It is important to establish what career best suits your talent, as well as the skills, and training you are required to undergo for your chosen career.
Let us now explain the career planning process step-by-step – it is very important that you understand this deeply before we progress.
The career planning process:
1. Know yourself
As mentioned before, the combination of your interests, skills, abilities, personality’s traits, values and talents makes you unique.
In assessing and knowing yourself, reflect on the following:-
- Your goal for the future and desired job;
- The positive aspects in your character (and any plans on further building on them) and the undesirable aspects in your character (and any plans on continually working to improve on them).
In addition, it is important to ask the following questions in doing self-assessment:-
- Who am I?
- What are my values?
- What are my interests?
- What are my skills?
- What are my personal traits?
- What are my gifts and talents?
- What are my dreams and ambitions?
Understanding the level of your skills and knowledge is critical – It may help you match them to the desired job and assess if it can be a good fit.
Besides, it will help to highlight any existing knowledge gaps that you may need to close through further training in order to achieve your desired goal.
The good thing is that there are assessments that are intended to help you carry out a self-evaluation in order to align with careers that you will thrive in.
2. Explore the available options
Think exhaustively about the career path you desire to pursue.
In particular, be sure to find out more about the following:
- The nature of the job that interests you;
- The training and education required; and
- The skills to develop in order to achieve your required career goal.
Don’t forget to research varieties of careers, occupations, market trends, opportunities, and emerging trends in your desired career path.
Upon exploring some options, you are now ready to make a decision.
Combine what you have learned about yourself with what you have discovered about the available options relative to the job market.
From your shortlist of options, decide which option interests you most.
Still there, don’t forget to select one or two alternatives to fall back on if for one reason or another, you are not able to pursue your first choice.
Now, to help you make a correct decision, ask yourself these questions:-
- Will I enjoy doing the activities involved in this job every day?
- Does the job match most of my interests?
- Do I have the required skills/can I easily acquire them?
- Does the job fit my values?
- Are there any factors that I need to take into account? This could be limitations in terms of location, financial aspects, and skills among others.
- Does the salary match the work? This question is meant to find out if the salary that will be offered will consider factors such as the level of education and work experience.
4. Take action
In these last steps of the career planning process, action is required.
Be careful here as well- it is important to set achievable goals (being overambitious can hinder you from becoming who you are really meant to be).
To be on the right path, here are the questions your career plan should address:-
- HOW? -Outline how you intend to get where you want to be.
- WHAT? -Outline the actions you need to take, including the issue of the subjects cluster, and what skills you need to develop to gain a competitive advantage in the job market.
- WHEN? -Outline the timelines you will give yourself to achieve short-term, medium-term, and long-term, medium-term, and long-term goals. And oh, constantly review your programs, especially after each short-term goal is achieved.
Again, you must also establish a backup career development plan, in case your situation changes- consider how you will overcome the various challenges you might encounter along the way.
As I had written before, this simply means being adaptable.
Career choices in Kenya -The role of parents in career choice
It is the desire of every parent to have their child pursue a successful career path with financial security and good quality of life.
To be honest, children often look up to their parents for guidance and advice.
And yes- parents and guardians contribute significantly to the career path their children choose to take (parental influence stems from the educational institution where they choose to take their child, as well about what they believe constitutes success).
Of course, the contribution of parents and guardians to this process is based on their personal beliefs, experiences and socialization- and sometimes, they unconsciously want to actualize their unrealized dreams through their children which can be detrimental.
Other times, they genuinely want to protect the children from the mistake they may have made during their youthful years.
Here is what you should bear in mind when selecting a career:
Your career can be impacted by the decisions made in earlier life in regards to the schools you attended, the subjects you took, or the decision to participate in certain activities (the scout movement, sports, etc.).
Worryingly, if these decisions are heavily swayed by our parents’ preferences, you may eventually find yourself in a career that does not interest you.
For this reason, balance needs to be met; on one hand, you need support from your parents/guardian (they will sponsor your education) but you also need the independence to select a career that will bring you immense contentment in life.
So, how should you approach this without hurting the people that are closest to you?
The best way is perhaps involving your parents/guardian in the process of making your career choice.
You should try to:
- Keep them informed step-by-step.
- Have them understand why you feel that what you choose is your best pathway to success.
- Respect their opinions even though you disagree with them- here you must find ways of explaining why you’re convinced that your decision is the best for both parties.
- Make them aware of the financial and other implications of your choices (you want them to be prepared to offer you full support until you can stand on your feet).
Important: Each individual possesses a unique set of skills, aptitudes, and abilities, distinct from those of their parents and siblings.
That being so, adopting a similar career role to that of your parents, siblings, or peers may not be the right course of action.
Making informed career choices in Kenya- career pitfalls to avoid
Deciding the career you want to pursue is a massive decision and people often make costly mistakes that come to haunt them afterward:
To make an informed choice, do not making a decision based on the following:-
1. Choosing money above everything else
Most students and young people choose a career based on salary.
Unbeknown to them, pursuing a career path based purely on salary considerations may ultimately result in a nagging feeling of uncertainty and lack of fulfillment.
You see, since you’ll be spending an extended part of your productive years in your career, the last thing you want is spending every day loathing your job (due to lack of fulfillment) despite being paid good money- that could lead to stress and misery.
Therefore, aim at striking a balance between decent pay and a fulfilling career.
2. Pursuing a career that your parents choose for you
There is a certain level of pressure that comes with upholding the traditions of the family.
It could happen that your father is a mechanic; his father [your grandfather] was a mechanic, and your sister/brother is mechanic- This does not mean that you must also be a mechanic.
Here is what I’m trying to say: Your parent might compel you to train for the career that he/she wanted to pursue but never did- In this case, your parent is trying to actualize his/her unrealistic dreams through you.
But here is the thing: while their advice is mostly well intentioned, taking ‘their’ career to make them happy could turn out to be unfulfilling for you so play your cards right.
3. Picking a career at random
Many students wait for the examination results to be released to make career choices in Kenya- they will assess the grade they have obtained then make a career choice.
Now, when the grades are favorable, many students get overwhelmed because the choices are in plenty.
Consequently, one may end up choosing a career that seems acceptable (or trendy).
Unfortunately, choosing a career just because it sounds desirable may get you in a trap that will be difficult to get out of.
Imagine spending 10 years as an unhappy doctor because you choose that path when your true calling is civil engineering? Sad!
4. Choosing the college before the course
A great challenge that faces students pursuing post-secondary education is getting admission to train for the right course.
And sometimes students disregard the choice of the course and instead prioritize joining a preferred college/university regardless of whether the institution offers courses in the area of study that interests them.
The regrettable thing is that they eventually opt to choose an alternative course since their main goal is to stick to their favorite college/university!
Well, this is counterproductive and may have long term negative consequences!
Okay- there’s nothing wrong with falling in love with a particular institution but you have no business going there if their courses do not match one’s career interests.
5. Relying on the word of the mouth
We often get advice on careers from family members, friends, the media, and other reasonable sources.
What I mean is this: you will often hear statements such “don’t pursue that, there are no good job”, “that course is for failures”, etc.
Don’t believe everything you hear- unless a statement is validated through data collection and analysis by a reputable authority, take it with a pinch of salt.
Instead, it is better to do your own research in order to understand the latest trends in a career before making your final decision.
6. Peer pressure
With respect to identifying a career path, peer pressure is the feeling that you must pursue the same interests as other people in your age and social group in order to be liked/respected by them.
Here is what you should keep in mind: When you choose a career based on the advice/the choice of your friends, the truth is the given choice matches their interest and personal traits, not yours!
Put simply, groupthink mentality (“Let us all do engineering”, or “career A is more favorable than career B”) is completely misguided and you may live to regret it all your life.
The best strategy is to do a personal self-assessment again because every individual is unique (always ask: “Is this my authentic self?).
Career choices in Kenya- Career Pathways and Fields you can choose
Pathway is a steps-by-step growth in skills, knowledge and experience and with examinations in every stage to prepare a student to attain the highest level in career.
Career fields are groups of occupations, career professions, or courses that share common skills, knowledge, interests, and subject combinations.
Here are the career pathways you can consider based on what I have taught you in this career choice guide:
Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources
- Agribusiness Systems
- Environmental Service Systems
- Animal Systems
- Plant Systems
- Food Products & Processing Systems
- Natural Resources Systems
- Power, Structural, & Technical Systems
Here are some of the jobs you can take up in this field:
- Animal Breeder
- Environmental Engineering Technologist/Technicians
- Environmental Protection Technician
- Pest Control Worker
- Wastewater Treatment Plant/System Operator
- Water/Wastewater Engineer
- Food Science Technician
- Food Scientist /Technologist
- Geological Technician
- Soil and Plant Scientist
- Agricultural Engineers
- Agricultural Equipment Operator
- Farm Equipment Mechanic
Architecture and Construction
- Design & Pre-Construction
- Maintenance and Operations
- Quantity Surveyor
This career pathway can unlock positions such as:
- Carpet Installers
- Construction Manager
- Construction Equipment Operator
- Solar Installer
- Structural Metal Fabricator and Fitter
- Terrazzo Worker and Finisher
- Civil Engineering Technologist/Technician
- Civil Engineer
- Interior Designer
- Quantity Surveyor
Arts, Communications, and Audio/Video Technology
- Audio & Video Technology & Film
- Performing Arts
- Visual Arts
Occupations in this field include:
- Audio & Video Equipment Technician.
- Audio-Video Designer/ Engineer.
- Multimedia Artist
- Graphic Designer.
- Sound Engineering Technician.
Business, Management, & Administration
- Administrative Support
- General Management
- Business Information Management
- Procurement and supplies
- Human Resources Management
- Operations Management
- Policy Manager
Roles directly related to courses in this line include:
- Business adviser
- Business development manager
- Business analyst
- Chartered management accountant
- Data analyst
- Data scientist
- Forensic accountant
- Insurance underwriter
- Management consultant
- Risk manager
Education and Training
- Professional Support Services
- Teaching and Training
- Administration and Administrative Support
Here are some of the jobs you can take up in this field:
- Special education teacher
- School Bursar
- School principal
- College professor/lecturer
- Technical college trainer
- School librarian
- Primary/secondary school teacher
- Banking Services
- Business Finance
- Securities and Investments
Here are a few options to consider if you’re in this field:
- Financial analyst
- Financial planner
- Investor relations associate
- Budget analyst
- Corporate investment banker
- Bank clerk
- Credit analyst
Government & Public Administration
- Foreign service.
- National security.
- Public management & administration.
- Regulation and policy development
- Revenue and taxation.
Here you can occupy a lot of positions including:
- Clerical Officer
- County commissioner
- Diplomatic Officer
- Tax Clerk/ Examiner
- Internal Revenue Investigator
- Child Support Officer
- Project Administrative Assistant
- Communications Officer
- Humanitarian Affairs Officer
- Police Officer
- Revenue officer.
- Urban Planner.
- Tax examiner.
- Fundraising manager
- Biotechnology Research & Development
- Health Informatics
- Diagnostic Services
- Support Services
- Therapeutic Services
Here are some of the roles you may land if you’re in this field:
- Public health officer
- Health educator.
- Mental health counselor.
- Pharmacy sales representative.
- Anesthesia technician
- Occupational therapist
- Surgical technician
- health information records technician
- Biomedical equipment technician
- Medical lab technician
- Pharmacy technician
Hospitality and Tourism
- Recreation, Amusements and Attractions
- Restaurants and Food and Beverage Services
- Travel and Tourism
Jobs in this area include:
- Hotel Manager
- Flight Attendant
- Front desk receptionist
- Hotel accountant
- Cruise staff
- Executive Chef
- Catering coordinator
- Tour guide
- Event planner
- Travel agent
- Consumer Services
- Early Childhood Development & Services
- Counseling and Mental Health Services
- Family & Community Services
- Personal Care Services
Some of the jobs available in this field are:
- Child Life Specialist
- Social Workers
- Marriage & Family Therapist
- Community Health Worker
- Information Support & Services
- Network Systems
- Programming &Software Development
- Web & Digital Communication
- Cyber security
Among others, here you can work as a:
- Digital Quality Manager
- Information Security Analyst
- Data Systems Officer,
- Software developer
- Director of Information Communication Technology
- Software Engineer
- Systems/Database Administrator
- Network engineer
- ICT Officer
Law, Corrections, Public Safety, and Security
- Correction Services
- Emergency and Fire Management Services
- Law Enforcement Services
- Legal Services
- Security and Protective Services
Job options for those in this field include:
- Police officer.
- Court reporter.
- Court Administrator/Clerk
- Correctional/prisons officer.
- Probation/parole officer.
- Fire fighter
- Immigration & customs inspector.
- Rescue workers (EMT, paramedic)
- Military Intelligence Officer
- Manufacturing Production-Process-Development
- Health, Safety & Environmental Assurance
- Maintenance, Installation, & Repair
- Logistics & Inventory Control
- Quality Assurance
Jobs in this field include:
- Assistant Factory Manager
- Robotics technician
- Mechatronics engineer
- Production clerk
- Warehouse clerk
- Production manager
- Quality control inspector
- Marketing Communications
- Marketing Management
- Market Research
- Professional Sales
Jobs you could target in this field include:
- Brand Manager
- Content Creator
- Sales Manager
- Customer Success Manager
- Digital Marketer
- Customer Service Representative
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics)
- Engineering & Technology
- Science and Mathematics
The following professions are all part of this career field:
- Software engineer
- Laboratory technician
Transportation, Distribution, & Logistics
- Facility & Mobile Equipment Maintenance
- Logistics Planning & Management Services
- Sales and Service
- Health, Safety & Environmental Management
- Transportation Operations
- Warehousing & Distribution Center Operations
- Transportation Systems/Infrastructure Planning, & Management and Regulation
Jobs you can be recruited into here include:
- Auto mechanic
- Drivers, pilots, ship captain
- Logistics Consultant
- Logistics Engineer
- Purchasing Manager
- International Logistics Manager
You can attain the highest possible qualifications and training and advance your career by taking the relevant route – whether academic or technical oriented, be sure to embark on a pathway that best suit you.
I should add that the government has developed a process through which students can embark on various career pathways.
This process is called KNQF (Kenya National Qualification Framework) and outlines various ways to progress from the lowest to the highest level of training and career.
Under KNQF, there are several entry points to the pathways: Basic education i.e. KCPE, KCSE, Technical and Vocational Training, with their highest possible level of training being the Doctorate [Ph.D.] and professional Master craft person.
Making career choices in Kenya -Helpful Tips to always keep in mind
- Take time and choose wisely- Some regret because of hurriedly choosing a course.
- Stay positive even when the going gets tougher– Do not give up.
- Do your research– Find out what career opportunities are available out there and the highest level to which you can pursue the chosen career path.
- Be flexible– Open your mind to be able to respond to changes or disruptions that maybe experienced in your chosen fields.
- Be Pro-active– Take initiative and make it happen. Do not wait for things to happen so that you respond.
- Stay up-to-date -Keep up with the current development in your chosen field.
- Expand your knowledge-Enroll for course or skills development programs that complement your choice. For example, a computer course in your line of work.
- Prioritize hands-on-Experience – After joining college, participate in activities that will allow you to practice what you have learnt in theory because this is what employers really like. You could even offer volunteer services in order to get hands-on -experience.
Career choices in Kenya -Importance of pursuing the right career
Pursuing the right career is important due to the following reasons:-
- It gives you an opportunity for self-development and personal growth.
- It enhances your mental health and general wellbeing
- It gives you an opportunity to earn an honest living
- It offers you a chance to contribute positively to society.
Good luck as you make this very important decision!
Review of various courses in Kenya
Career guidance in Kenya pdf
Career compass wheel Kenya
Career wheel diagram Kenya
Career choices for high school students in Kenya