A career is traditionally seen as a course of successive situations that make up a person's worklife. One can have a sporting career or a musical career without being a professional athlete or musician, but most frequently "career" in the 20th century referenced the series of jobs or positions by which one earned one's money. It tended to look only at the past.
As the idea of personal choice and self direction picks up in the 21st century, aided by the power of the Internet and the increased acceptance of people having multiple kinds of work, the idea of a career is shifting from a closed set of achievements, like a chronological résumé of past jobs, to a defined set of pursuits looking forward. In its broadest sense, career refers to an individual’s work and life roles over their lifespan.
In the relatively static societies before modernism, many workers would often inherit or take up a single lifelong position (a place or role) in the workforce, and the concept of an unfolding career had little or no meaning. With the spread during the Enlightenment of the idea of progress and of the habits of individualist self-betterment, careers became possible, if not expected.
Career Assessments are tests that come in a variety of forms and rely on both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Career Assessments can help individuals identify and better articulate their unique interests, values, and skills. Career counselors, executive coaches, career development centers, and outplacement companies often administer career assessments to help individuals focus their search on careers that closely match their unique personal profile.
Career counseling advisors assess people's interests, personality, values and skills, and also help them explore career options and research graduate and professional schools. Career counseling provides one-on-one or group professional assistance in exploration and decision making tasks related to choosing a major/occupation, transitioning into the world of work or further professional training. The field is vast and includes career placement, career planning, learning strategies and student development.
By the late 20th century a plethora of choices (especially in the range of potential professions) and more widespread education had allowed it to become fashionable to plan (or design) a career: in this respect the careers of the career counsellor and of the career advisor have grown up. It is also not uncommon for adults in the late 20th/early 21st centuries to have dual or multiple careers, either sequentially or concurrently. Thus, professional identities have become hyphenated or hybridized to reflect this shift in work ethic. Economist Richard Florida notes this trend generally and more specifically among the "creative class."
For a pre-modernist notion of "career", compare cursus honorum.