Factors affecting an individual’s choice of occupation

There are thousands of different occupations, each with its own conditions of work. Some people work indoors while others work outdoors. Some work for large companies and some for small businesses. Some work at night and others work during the day. Some people are self-employed and work for themselves. There are many factors which affect a person’s choice of occupation. These factors can be categorized into wage and non-wage factors.

Wage factors

An important consideration in choosing a career is the wages paid. For example, doctors and accountants usually earn more than electricians and drivers.
Wages are payments for carrying out the works. The higher the wage, the more attractive the job may seem. However, highly paid jobs typically require a lot of training and skill development, which can reduce the supply of qualified applicants. Some dangerous jobs – for example, working on an offshore oil ring – will attract applicants only if the wages are relatively high.
In choosing an occupation, a potential employee will usually consider the following:

  1. Basic Pay is the amount of money that will be received by an employee before any increments or deductions are made.
  2. Earnings relates to the total amount an individual receives when additional payments are added including overtime, bonuses and commissions.
  3. Overtime is the hours worked in addition to the basic contracted hours. It is usually paid at a higher rate compared to the normal hours. The purpose of giving overtime pay is to encourage people to work ‘unsocial’ hours.
  4. A Bonus is used as an incentive to encourage workers to work harder or longer, for example, to meet a particular sales or production target.
  5. Commission is a payment made as a percentage of sales that a salesperson makes. This will encourage the salesperson to be enthusiastic about selling more.

Non-wage factors

Non-wage factors are highly influential on the choice of occupation. They include:

  1. Job-satisfaction: many people are prepared to work for a lower pay if they enjoy the work. Some people prefer to work for a company with regular income, while others prefer the freedom of working for themselves.
  2. Career Prospects: many people want to work in occupations where there is opportunity for promotion.
  3. Fringe benefits these are non-financial incentives given to employees. For example: subsidised housing, company car or subsidised transport, subsidised company products etc.
  4. Gender: while people can argue and strive for the gender equality, and can even go to the extent of saying that a woman can do any work and every work that a man does, it does not work exactly that way in reality. There are certain work that men are more suited for doing than a woman. For example, will a pregnant woman be able to work long hours in a construction site? However, women most certainly excels in many other professions, even better than men in certain occupations.
  5. Job security: Most people want to be sure that the job they choose to do will be secured and that they will not be laid off.
  6. length of holidays: many countries have implemented labour laws requiring that the workers get a certain number of days as holidays.
  7. Travelling distance: having to travel a long distance to attend to the work may make an individual seek employment at a firm which is nearer to home, even if the firm which is nearer to home pays a lower salary.

Next topic: Changes in an individual’s earnings

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