Career is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a person's "course or progress through life (or a distinct portion of life)".

It can also pertain to an occupation or a profession that usually involves special training or formal education, and is considered to be a person’s lifework.

The etymology of the term comes from the m. French word carriere (16 c.) ("road, racecourse") which, in turn, comes from the Latin word "(via) cararia" (track for wheeled vehicles) which originated from the Latin word carrus" which means "wagon".

By the late 20th century, a wide range of choices (especially in the range of potential professions) and more widespread education had allowed it to become possible to plan (or design) a career: in this respect the careers of the career counselor 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".

Reasons why people change careers

The downsizing or the restructuring of an organization (54%).
New challenges or opportunities that arise (30%).
Poor or ineffective leadership (25%).
Having a poor relationship with a manager(s) (22%).
For the improvement of a better work/life balance (21%).
Contributions are not being recognized (21%).
For better compensation and benefits (18%),
For better alignment with personal and organizational values (17%).
Personal strengths and capabilities are not a good fit with an organization (16%).
The financial instability of an organization (13%).
An organization relocated (12%).

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