The basic purpose of a career development theory is to guide about correct career choices according to the present time and also the career should be suitable for several years into the future. Change is the only constant, as it is popularly said. The world is forever evolving, so is the nature of business and career choices available. A career development theory also has to evolve accordingly.
A career development theory helps people in understanding themselves and their aspirations as well as skills and desired career path to find a suitable mix. It is well known that in American society, a career more or less defines a person and is the identity of the person. So, it is important to keep the learning process going even when one is well into the career, so that growth can continue. People who attend seminars and courses regularly or take up an apprenticeship or internship are more in touch with new career developments.
Just as business houses recognize that it is important to keep increasing their skills, similarly an individual also needs to update continuously. Slowing down on career development in this fast paced world is not an option.
There has been a career development theory dealing with various life stages, viz. adolescence, preteen to teen, and young adults. As a child or an adolescent, a person has the entire world ahead. So, several options are considered but nothing is really concrete. At this stage, a person may want to be a pilot, an engineer, an artist or dancer or else entirely. None of these may actually translate into a career later on.
As per this career development theory, from preteen to the teens, an individual become clearer about what they want to do later in life. They also gain clarity about the activities that they enjoy and the areas that they excel in. at this stage, the person in the previous example may just have a passing interest in creative activities and could be entirely focused on becoming a pilot. This person may now be studying science and math in earnest while also taking health classes for animals on the side. She may also start researching the classes that she needs to pursue for a career in one of these fields. By applying career development theory to this person, we can see that she has now starting firming up her plans for her future.
The career development theory also takes into consideration the preferences of an individual and likes as well as dislikes as these eventually lead to the career choices. Again taking the previous example, the young person may decide that she enjoys animals and may decide to become a veterinary doctor, instead of a pilot. She will then need to study beyond high school, clear the relevant courses and also train with a professional before going into work herself.
Other career development theories may throw light on career development for the poor, people in minority, women and so on, as there is a career development theory for each different need, level of wealth, race or genre to provide a through comprehension of career choices for different individuals.