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Under career is understood in the human resources professional development of workers in time , by organizational structure and establishment plan is mapped out horizontally and vertically.


In the German-speaking world, the terms career and career are often synonymous with regulated professional development towards a goal. Between the two, however, is strictly separated, because the track ( English career ) is more neutral than professional development to watch, while the career as a "professional success" is considered by rapid use of opportunities for advancement. It should be noted that the career is an object of knowledge in psychology and sociology , while the career is examined in business administration and organizational theory.

A career should be understood as a professional development and as a process that someone goes through in one or more organizations (managerial career, school career, political career or civil servant career). Career and career of a working person are therefore not limited to a specific organization, but can be continued by operating and career changes. The career path arises through the perception of personnel measures in personnel development such as hiring , promotion , transfer or organizational change.

The career path is influenced by socio-economic conditions, mental abilities, personality traits and the possibilities of individuals. According to this, the self-image that a person makes of their own abilities, value orientations, interests and goals significantly determines their professional preferences and thus influences the choice of a career, professional career and later job and life satisfaction .


The psychologist Frank Parsons is considered to be the founder of career research, as he was the first to investigate aptitude diagnostics in 1909. Hugo Münsterberg is the founder of German career counseling , who presented the first German career research in 1912.

In 1953 Donald Super developed a classic theory of the career path, who described the career stages associated with certain tasks and phases of life: growth ( English: growth , age approx. 4–13 years; with physical and mental development), exploration and testing ( English exploration , approx . 14–24 years) with adolescence , establishment ( English establishment , approx. 25–44 years) with professional and work experience, maintenance of what has been achieved ( English maintenence , approx. 45–64 years) with securing the career and dismantling Withdrawal ( English disengagement and decline , approx. From 65 years) with early retirement or retirement differentiated.

The development phase of career research lasted approximately until 1970, after which a consolidation phase followed, which brought with it an independent research area in the USA .


A distinction is made between a management career , a specialist career and a project career . The management career or line track is the vertical change of position of executives and with an expansion of tasks , skills , responsibility and often higher remuneration linked. The term specialist career first appeared in 1968, it is limited to a specific subject area or business area and leads to the supervisor . The project career is a specialist career and can be perceived in particular in companies with a high research intensity, but also applies to company projects that are limited in time . A project team can reflect the operational hierarchies (parallel hierarchy ).

The distinction between traditional and Protean careers comes from the US American literature . While the organization is at the center of the traditional career, the Protean career named after Proteus is about the individual . The latter's central values ​​are freedom and personal development, while the traditional ones are opportunities for advancement and advancement. The traditional career has the salary and position as the criteria for success, whereas the Protean career recognizes psychological success.

Private sector

Although the term career is mainly used in the public service for civil servants and soldiers, there are also specialist and management careers in the private sector . The company career is the sequence of positions that workers can complete in the course of their working life. In the private sector, however, career regulations are not based on federal laws , but can be found in collective bargaining agreements or works agreements . Like their civil service counterparts, these also provide for tiered remuneration groups that are linked to different work requirements .

The classic career development of a management career begins here at the clerk and continues through the group leader , Head of Unit , Department Manager , Division Manager to CEO or board member continued. Organizationally, a management career is created by moving vertically upwards within the hierarchy. These management positions are defined by the core task of disciplinary staff management by disciplinary superiors . Specialist careers offer the possibility of ascending in a parallel hierarchy with increasing professional qualifications, which provides for social advancement without taking on higher management functions. In the case of parallel hierarchy, a distinction is made between an absolute and relative parallel hierarchy. The latter has ranks that are assigned to a management level, with the absolute parallel hierarchy there is a technical level for each management level. Relative parallel hierarchies are the rule in everyday work. The positions in the specialist career are usually associated with a certain title ( e.g. junior or senior product manager ), other status symbols (office size , company car ) are similar to those of the management career. However, specialist careers are often characterized by one-sided specialization , which makes it difficult to change within or between companies.

Career continuity plays an important role in the private sector. Since the existing career norms do not necessarily determine the actually realized career of a worker and deviations from the career concept are the rule, it depends on the continuity of the career, which is shown by a consistent and logical sequence of job and task changes. Personnel administrations pay particular attention to career continuity when hiring new employees, so as not to acquire purely career-oriented personnel.

Service law in Germany

A career in public service law in Germany is an order of career paths for a public service ratio standing officers and soldiers . Judges and employees in the public service (public employees) have no career.

Web links

Wiktionary: career  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Klaus Moser: Organizational socialization and professional development . In: Heinz Schuler (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Psychology . 2004, p. 533-595 .
  2. Rosina M. Gasteiger: Self-responsible career management . Hogrefe Verlag, 2007, p. 25 ( digitized version in Google Book Search [accessed March 24, 2017]).
  3. Christina Heckmann: Personnel management starting points of a competence-oriented career advice . 2009, p. 12 , FN 75 .
  4. ^ Eva Bamberg, Gisela Mohr, Christine Busch: Industrial Psychology . Hogrefe, 2012, p. 80 ( digitized in Google Book Search [accessed on March 24, 2017]).
  5. ^ Frank Parsons: Choosing a Vocation. 1909, p. 14 ff.
  6. ^ Hugo Münsterberg: Psychology and economic life. 1912, p. 44 f.
  7. ^ Donald E. Super: A Theory of Vocational Development . In: American Psychologist . 1953, p. 189 f . (English).
  8. ^ Jean Neuhaus: The parallel hierarchy . In: Management magazine . No. 10 , 1968, p. 568-575 .
  9. ^ Douglas T. Hall: The protean career: A quarter-century journey . In: Journal of vocational behavior . No. 65 , 2004, pp. 4th ff . (English).
  10. ^ Ulrich Büdenbender, Hans Strutz: Gabler compact lexicon personal . 2003, p. 205 ( digitized version in Google Book Search [accessed March 24, 2017]).
  11. ^ Klaus-Dieter Maier: Organizational career planning. 1980, p. 46.
  12. Claudius Enaux, Fabian Henrich, Matthias Meifert: Strategic Talent Management . 2011, p. 153 f . ( Digitized in the Google book search [accessed on March 24, 2017]).
  13. ^ Christiana Nicolai: Personnel Management . 2014, p. 362 ( digitized version in Google Book Search [accessed March 24, 2017]).
  14. Katharina Hölzle: The project manager career. 2009, p. 98.
  15. Katharina Hölzle: The project manager career. 2009, p. 99.
  16. Gunther Olesch: An alternative to a management career . In: Personal Magazin . No. 6 , 2003, p. 73 f .
  17. Oliver Dimbath: Decisions in the individualized society. 2003, p. 136.