European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network Database, ELGPN Database





The interaction of work roles and other life roles over a person’s lifespan, including how they balance paid and unpaid work, and their involvement in learning and education.


The main issue is whether a definition focuses exclusively employment; employment and training; or adopts the broadest of all conceptions to include non-work activities.
There are a large number of definitions of ‘career’ in the academic literature. For example:
• the evolving sequence of a person's work experience over time (Arthur et al., 1989);
• a career is the sequence of employment-related positions, roles, activities and experiences encountered by a person (Arnold, 1997);
• career is viewed broadly to stress life roles and lifestyles, occupation being considered only one part of career (Hansen & Gysbers, 1975);
• the individual’s lifelong progression in learning and work (Watts, 1998).
Other definitions include:
The sequence of various socially significant human roles deriving from an individual’s work, learning, self-expression and leisure activities and spanning the individual’s working life, work locations, positions and achievements. (Career Guidance and Counselling Glossary, undated).
A career is the sequence and variety of occupations (paid and unpaid) which one undertakes throughout a lifetime. More broadly, 'career ' includes life roles, leisure activities, learning and work (University of Sydney Careers Centre Glossary of Career Terms, undated).
Career is a lifestyle concept that involves the sequence of work, learning and leisure activities in which one engages throughout a lifetime. Careers are unique to each person and are dynamic, unfolding throughout life. Careers include how persons balance their paid and unpaid work and personal life roles (Canadian Career Development Foundation, 2002).


UNESCO (2002). Handbook of Career Counselling. Available from Internet:

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ELGPN Glossary, career