DECIDING ON YOUR CAREER
Choosing your career and programme of study is probably the biggest
decision you have faced in your life so far. We try in this handbook to
help you make an informed decision, but you should also make use of
other resources such as career resource centres, guidance counsellors,
libraries, local newspapers, TV and the internet, if you have access to
It is important that you choose a career that will help you achieve
the sort of lifestyle you want as well as matching your working
personality. Answering the following questions might help you get a
clearer picture of what type of career would be right for you.
Does this career offer the sort of
challenges and rewards I need?
People work for different reasons. Some
work best when they are well paid; others
are more stimulated by a challenge than by
money. Some like a feeling of importance;
others are inspired by the gratitude of
people they have helped. Some get a kick
out of creating something. It may help
you if you write down your answers to the
What values and ambitions do you
Think back to when you did some work
you were really pleased with - what
encouraged you to do your best?
Do you perform at your best when you
stand to gain a reward or money, or
when you are doing what you enjoy?
What are the things that are important
to you as a person?
Will this career suit the sort
of lifestyle I want?
Once you have identifi ed some careers that
interest you, it is always a good idea to talk
to people who are already doing the job. Ask
them how hard they had to study and what
sort of demands their job makes on them;
fi nd out what they like and dislike about
it. That way you will be able to determine
whether the career you are considering
will fi t into your chosen lifestyle. Check job
advertisements in the newspapers to fi nd
out how many openings there are for people
who are just starting out. These will also
give you an idea what salaries are paid for
the jobs you are considering, but remember
that it will take you several years before you
start earning a top salary.
What am I good at?
Many, many more subjects are offered at
tertiary level than at school - so how can you
work out what you are likely to be good at?
Most subjects will build on knowledge and
skills you have already been developing at
school; for instance if you study Engineering
you will make extensive use of what you
learnt at school in Maths and Science. If
your best subjects at school are languages
or those involving essay writing, you should
consider a programme that will further
develop those skills.
If you are best at practical things, consider
studying at an FET College where these skills will be developed.
Don't be restricted to the subjects you are
best at in school, but use them to guide you
in identifying your personal strengths.
Do I qualify?
Check the entry requirements carefully, and
only apply for programmes you are likely
to qualify for. For example, if a programme
specifi es Maths at level 3 (or Higher Grade E)
you defi nitely will not be considered if you
are writing Maths Literacy (or have written
Maths on Standard Grade). If your results
are better than the minimum specified, the
institution will be delighted to consider your
Check out all the different options very
carefully. Different institutions have different
entry requirements for similar programmes.
There are alternative access routes to
many of the programmes listed. Access
programmes are designed to assist those from disadvantaged schools who do not meet
the entry requirements. You will find full details
in `Alternative access routes'
If you are over 23 years old and do not meet
the entry requirements, please contact the
institution to check whether they have a
Mature Age entry route.
How long am I prepared to study?
Each programme in this handbook shows
the minimum time it takes to complete that
qualification. Remember that a lot of people
take longer than this. Programmes range in
minimum duration from six months to six
Diploma programmes sometimes allow you
to leave with a qualification such as a National
Certificate or National Higher Certificate after
one or two years, and offer the opportunity
of returning to study and completing a more
senior qualification later.
Can I afford it?
Many students depend heavily on financial
aid - remember that you should apply in
plenty of time, particularly if you are looking
for external bursaries. Very few students
fi nd funding that will cover the whole cost of
study. Most funding is in the form of loans.
For details of bursary donors consult
Umsobomvu Youth Fund's website
www.uyf.org.za. Or consult the annual
publication The Bursary Register, available
from educational book stores or by
contacting telephone number 011 672 6559,
email address firstname.lastname@example.org or PO
Box 178, Florida Hills, 1716 (purchase price
approximately R200). Consult your library or
the Financial Aid offi ce of an institution (see
pages 22-24). Bursaries are often advertised
in the jobs section of newspapers.
Remember that part-time or distance
learning options are considerably cheaper
and can be combined with a job so that you
can earn while you learn.
To decide whether you can afford it, you
should estimate the cost of the programme
you are considering. Approximate costs
are available from the institutions. Fill in
your estimated costs on the study
budget calculator below and add them all