Talk to your child about their career

Your school will have a career education program to help your child make career decisions. But it's also a good idea to talk to them about what they want to do. Research shows that children look to their parents first when they want career advice.

What a career is

A career includes all the roles you undertake throughout your life, including: 

  • education
  • training
  • paid and unpaid work
  • family
  • volunteer work
  • leisure activities and more.

The concept of a job for life is no longer a reality. Young people now are likely to experience five to eight major career changes in their life. They will have more fluid ways of working, like casual, contract and part-time work options.

Making good career choices

Making the best career choices involves:

  • knowing what you like (your interests)
  • knowing what you are good at (your skills and abilities)
  • knowing what is important to you (your values)
  • understanding the world of work and knowing about your available options and what jobs are out there
  • learning how to make informed decisions about your possible options
  • deciding and setting about achieving your objectives.

Tips for talking about careers with your child

Here's some general tips when talking about careers with your child:

  • Focus on skills and behaviour your child will need, rather than specific jobs.
  • Talk about goals and what your child finds fulfilling.
  • Be open minded and encouraging.
  • Talk about what your child has put in their career action plan from school.
  • Be patient as your child's choices may change.
  • Remember it's your child's decision on what direction they want to go.

Some children will have a clear goal when they're young, while others will take a long time to explore and decide.

You can also read the Victorian Careers Curriculum Framework. This is the career education program in government schools.

Questions to ask your child

In years 8 to 9

  • What subjects they are good at?
  • What subjects would they like to improve in? How can they work towards that?
  • What sort of careers have they explored so far?
  • Do they know who they can talk to about career advice at school?
  • Are they thinking about getting a part-time or casual job?
  • What kind of work experience is your child interested in? 
  • Where can you find reliable information about careers?

In years 10 to 11

  • What subjects are they enjoying in year 10? Why? Are they interested in continuing these in year 11?
  • Can they see themselves building a career in these subjects in the future? What kind of jobs are related to these subjects?
  • What will the demand for these jobs be in the future? The myfuture website and Victorian Skills Gateway have information about demand
  • Do they understand the difference between university and vocational education and training (VET)?
  • What university and TAFE courses are they interested in at the end of year 12?
  • Do they know if there are any prerequisite subjects for these courses?
  • Do they know if there are pathways from VET to university for these courses?
  • What skills and qualities will they need for the careers they're interested in? Which subjects and courses will help them get those skills?

In year 12 and beyond

  • What do they think they might like to do next year?
  • Have they updated their career action plan? Have they discussed it with their careers coordinator?
  • Have they thought about doing a course at a VET provider or university? Do they know how to apply?
  • Do they need an ATAR for the courses they’re interested in? What was the most recent ATAR for that course?
  • Are there extra requirements for the courses they’re interested in? For example, UMAT (Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test) for medicine courses, portfolios for art and design courses or auditions for performing arts.
  • Do they know if there are pathways between VET and university for the kind of courses they're interested in?
  • Who can help them with this at school?
  • Are they thinking about taking a gap year? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?
  • Are they thinking of getting a job or apprenticeship next year? Who can help them with their application? Do they have a plan B if their first choice doesn’t work out?
  • How far are they prepared to travel for study or work? Will they need to move out of home? How can they find accommodation? What are the likely costs involved?
  • What are the opportunities for work after graduating from university or VET?