Career Types. Which One Will You Choose?
Adam Smith
Certified Professional Career Coach
July 25, 2022, 2:24 pm

Career Types. Which One Will You Choose?

When we think about careers, we imagine growing from a regular clerk to a CEO of a company, but what if there is a different path of professional growth? And it is not always vertical.

American psychologist Donald E Super conducted a study based on a survey of the 200 graduate careers of American schools and identified the main options for career development (or "professional maturity"):

  • a stable career, within the framework of one profession, as the "main business" of life;
  • an ordinary career, coinciding with the formative stages of development of "professional maturity" (like most);
  • an unstable career with more than two job changes;
  • a career with multiple trials;
  • a career as a housewife (for some women); an interrupted career (for women due to the birth of a child).

It is worth pointing out that Donald E Super conducted his research more than 50 years ago. Due to the increase in professional mobility of people and the high dynamics of changes in the labor market, there are fewer and fewer regular and stable careers. Now no one is looking for a job once and for life, often people want to change their occupations as much as possible until they find something to their liking.

Today we will analyze what types of careers exist, what are their main advantages and disadvantages, and you can decide which one you like the most.

Vertical career

This is a classic career type, from a low position to a high position. For example, when you go to the company as an intern, then you get the position of a specialist, then a team leader, and so on. Vertical career growth occurs either within the same company or in the same industry. Not only the level of the position is growing, but also the area of responsibility, and the range of functional responsibilities. Of course, salaries are also increasing.

But is this type of career suitable for everyone?

There is a situation when a person who previously showed himself well in an ordinary position, becoming a boss, will be less effective.

To grow vertically, you must have leadership qualities, not be afraid of responsibility for your work as well as for the work of the team, constantly learn and keep your finger on the pulse in your field. Personality type also plays a crucial role here: are you an extrovert or an introvert? Introverted bosses are far less common than extroverted bosses. In this case, you need to be sure that you have chosen a business to your liking, and that you are really good at it. Otherwise, how can you inspire and manage the team?


  • high salary;
  • success and recognition;
  • implementation of your plans and ambitions;
  • solving ambitious tasks;
  • opportunities for personal and business development.


  • high probability of burnout due to excessive responsibility and burden;
  • pointing out the mistakes of subordinates, and, possibly, their dismissal;
  • blurred boundaries between personal life and work, lack of rest;
  • there is a risk, sooner or later, to reach the ceiling and above which one cannot burp.

Horizontal career

This is a type of career that involves the development of a specialist, an increase in his competencies, and value in the labor market within one department. For example, if you come to work for a certain position, perhaps you already have some background, and within this position, you gain experience, better cope with tasks, acquire new knowledge, and further improve your work... Then you become a valuable employee and an expert in your area, which the company is afraid of losing; your responsibilities begin to include training new employees.

This type of career is best suited for creative and expert careers. This is a perfect match for those who are passionate about their business and do not want to engage in processes that are far from the profession itself. In practice, two types of careers are often intertwined: by becoming an expert in one field, a specialist is given a leadership position. The main thing is that your career should develop, because a specialist who has been working in one place for more than 5 years without increasing responsibilities, acquiring skills and any growth, raises many questions, especially during the further job search.


  • development of professional skills;
  • expertise in the field (you can write books, give lectures, etc.);
  • value in the labor market and recognition of the employer/clients;
  • responsibility only for their decisions;
  • no ceiling - there is no limit to perfection.


  • you will always act as a subordinate and will have to do what you are told;
  • possible conflict situations with a manager - two experts often do not get along well together;
  • not such a significant increase in wages.

Centripetal career 

This type of business career is the least obvious to everyone.

A centripetal career is understood as a movement towards the core, the leadership of the organization. For example, inviting an employee to meetings inaccessible to other employees, meetings of both formal and informal nature, getting an employee access to informal sources of information, confidential appeals, and certain important instructions from the management. Such workers are often referred to as “gray eminences” because their movements up the career ladder are not as obvious and noticeable as in a vertical career.


  • fast career growth;
  • high social status;
  • high level of salary.


  • it is available to a limited number of employees, as a rule, with established personal contacts with the highest echelons of management and extensive business ties outside the organization.
  • to build a centripetal career, you need to have useful business connections outside the organization;
  • it is necessary to have leadership qualities, purposefulness;
  • you need to be able to earn the trust of your superiors.

Remember: in a career, the main thing is that you enjoy the process, that simple daily tasks make you happy, and that you always want to go to the office, no matter what type of career you choose.


Related articles: