Can you be born into a profession?

Sarah Coles
young little doctor and engineer
young little doctor and engineer

There's more choice than ever about what we choose to do for a living. From the outset, kids are told that the world is their oyster, and they can do anything they want. However, the evidence would seem to show that maybe we don't have as much control over our career decisions as we think we do.

There are five things that will effectively pick your career for you.

Natural talent
There are some things we are just born with, such as a creative streak, an ability to focus on small details, or a talent for kicking a ball around a football pitch. Some people discover this talent early. Others are convinced they have what it takes, and are in for a rude awakening when it comes to getting a job.

Birth order
Michael Grose, author of "Why Firstborns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It," claims that firstborns and only children tend to have higher educational goals, earn more, and get a more prestigious job - partly as a result of expectations and pressure from their parents. The youngest, meanwhile, tend to gravitate towards creative, artistic and outdoor jobs, because their parents give them the freedom to try alternative approaches. They also tend to earn less.

Parent's jobs
Data released by Facebook earlier this year revealed that children still follow their parents into certain professions - especially things like farming and nursing. This was definitely true of Parker Schnabel, a gold miner and star of reality show, Gold Rush (season seven of which is currently showing on The Discovery Channel). He told AOL: "For ten years I would sit in my dad's office and watch him run his gold mining business. He would talk to me about what he was doing and what he was buying and how it was going to pay for itself, and I learned from him and developed the mentality." At the age of 17 Parker was running his own gold mining operation, supported by his Grandfather and mentor.

Parker learning on the job
Parker learning on the job

Even when children don't follow their parents exactly, they can be influenced by their parents' professions. So, for example, the Facebook data shows that the children of lawyers often become doctors, and we know the children of entrepreneurs are often happier to go it alone. This has much to do with learning what is valuable in a job from their parents - whether that's security, intellectual stimulation or autonomy.

The posher your parents, the more likely you will be to enter higher education, and pursue a profession. Social class has a massive impact on the qualifications and aspirations of individuals. This is partly because posh kids may go to better schools, but also because they are expected to excel, and supported in doing so. A parent who has been to university, for example, is more likely to have the confidence to expect their child to go into higher education, and the knowledge to help them do so.

It's why 70% of high court judges, and over half of senior medical consultants, FTSE chief executives and top journalists went to public schools - although only 7% of the total population do so.

Those who start from a less privileged background may push through the barriers making it hard to get a great education, and then come up against the fact they do not have access to the same networks, opportunities or support in finding their dream job.

Sometimes parents influence career choices in ways that even they are unaware of - by approving of certain things and rubbishing others. This theory has been outlined by researchers at Southern Methodist University. They point out that your parents may, for example, expose you to experiences like theatre and ballet, sign you up for classes, and praise particular skills. They may also look down on certain professions, make it difficult for their offspring to follow an undesirable path, or point out the negatives to help guide their choices.

But what do you think? Did you fall into a career because of one of these influences, or did you buck the trend? Let us know in the comments.