Career Counseling Research Paper Topics

This list of career research topics is provided to help students and researchers with a comprehensive list of career-related issues. It classifies topics into 10 themes: (1) theoretical perspectives on careers; (2) the social context of careers, including the contemporary workplace; cultural and international perspectives; ethnicity, gender, and diversity; organizational environment; social class and background; and work-life interface; (3) the evolution and development of careers; (4) decision making and career development; (5) variations in career patterns and career success; (6) career development initiatives; (7) legislative and regulatory mandates; (8) assessment areas and techniques; (9) job search and organizational recruiting; and (10) professional associations. Some topics appear in more than one category.

Career Research Topics


1. Career
2. Career construction theory
3. Circumscription and compromise
4. Cognitive information processing in career counseling
5. Erikson’s theory of development
6. History of career studies
7. Holland’s theory of vocational choice
8. Metaphors for careers
9. Minnesota Theory of Work Adjustment
10. Occupational choice
11. Person-environment fit (P-E fit)
12. Positive organizational scholarship
13. Reinforcement theory
14. Social cognitive career theory
15. Social constructionism
16. Social learning theory of career development
17. Super’s career development theory
18. Vocational psychology


The Contemporary Workplace

19. Antisocial work behaviors
20. Boundaryless career
21. Churning of jobs
22. Contingent employment
23. Customized careers
24. Downsizing
25. Employability
26. Ethics and careers
27. Job security
28. Knowledge work
29. Outsourcing and offshoring
30. Protean career
31. Psychological contract
32. Spirituality and careers
33. Team-based work
34. Technology and careers
35. Workforce 2020

Cultural and International Perspectives

36. Culture and careers
37. Expatriate experience
38. Globalization and careers
39. International careers
40. Multinational organization
41. Virtual expatriates

Ethnicity, Gender, and Diversity

42. Affirmative action
43. Age discrimination
44. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
45. Biculturalism
46. Civil Rights Act of 1964
47. Civil Rights Act of 1991
48. Comparable worth
49. Disability
50. Disabilities among college students
51. Diversity in organizations
52. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
53. Equal Pay Act
54. Gender and careers
55. Glass ceiling
56. Inequality
57. Lockstep career progression
58. Multicultural organization
59. Racial discrimination
60. Religious discrimination
61. Reverse discrimination
62. Sex discrimination
63. Sexual harassment
64. Sexual orientation and careers
65. Stereotyping of workers
66. Tokenism
67. Unbiased hiring systems

The Organizational Environment

68. Industrial Revolution
69. Leadership Development
70. Learning organization
71. Nepotism
72. Organizational justice
73. Organizational politics
74. Procedural justice
75. Toxic leadership

Social Class and Background

76. Blue-collar workers
77. Family background and careers
78. Low-income workers and careers
79. Single parents and careers
80. Socioeconomic status
81. White-collar work

The Work-Life Interface

82. Burnout
83. Careers and health
84. Child care practices
85. Crossover effect
86. Elder care practices
87. Emotional labor
88. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
89. Family-responsive workplace practices
90. Flexible work arrangements
91. Job sharing
92. Part-time employment
93. Stress at work
94. Telecommuting
95. Two-career relationships
96. Unemployment
97. Wellness and fitness programs
98. Work-family balance
99. Work-family conflict
100. Work-family enrichment
101. Work/life litigation
102. Workaholism
103. Workplace romance


104. Anticipatory socialization
105. Assimilation and mutual acceptance
106. Bridge employment
107. Career change
108. Career indecision
109. Career interruptions
110. Career maturity
111. Career plateau
112. Career transition
113. College student career development
114. Continuing professional education
115. Crystallization of vocational self-concept
116. Derailment
117. Early career stage
118. Early retirement
119. Fast-track career
120. Identity
121. Job loss
122. Late career stage
123. Leadership development
124. Lifelong learning
125. Lockstep career progression
126. Mentoring
127. Middle career stage
128. Midlife crisis
129. Obsolescence of knowledge and skills
130. Organizational socialization
131. Phased retirement
132. Pygmalion effect
133. Retirement
134. Reverse mentoring
135. Role models
136. School-to-work transition
137. Self-concept
138. Underemployment
139. Unemployment
140. Welfare-to-work programs


141. Aspirations in career decisions
142. Career appraisal
143. Career decision-making styles
144. Career exploration
145. Career goal
146. Career indecision
147. Career investments
148. Career strategy
149. Environment awareness
150. Human capital
151. Impression management
152. Individual career management
153. Occupational choice
154. Occupational prestige
155. Occupational stereotypes
156. Organizational entry
157. Organizational image
158. Self-awareness
159. Self-efficacy
160. Self-esteem
161. Self-leadership
162. Self-monitoring
163. Social capital
164. Specialty choice
165. Turnover


166. Boundaryless career
167. Career anchors
168. Career as a calling
169. Career mobility
170. Career motivation
171. Career salience
172. Career satisfaction
173. Career success
174. Copreneurship
175. Entrepreneurship
176. Job involvement
177. Job satisfaction
178. Lockstep career progression
179. Morale
180. Motivation and career development
181. Needs
182. Occupational commitment
183. Occupational professionalism
184. Organizational citizenship behavior
185. Organizational commitment
186. Protean career
187. Work ethic
188. Work values
189. Workaholism


190. Academic advising
191. Apprenticeships
192. Assessment centers
193. Career centers
194. Career coaching
195. Career counseling
196. Career counseling competencies
197. Career education
198. Career intervention outcomes
199. Career-planning workshops
200. Child care practices
201. Compensation
202. Computer-based career support systems
203. Continuing professional education
204. Cooperative education
205. Cross-training
206. Elder care practices
207. Employee assistance programs
208. Employee participation in organizational decision making
209. Empowerment
210. Executive coaching
211. Family-responsive workplace practices
212. Flexible work arrangements
213. Human resource information systems (HRIS)
214. Human resource planning
215. Human resource support systems
216. Internships
217. Job challenge
218. Job design
219. Job-posting programs
220. Job rotation
221. Job sharing
222. Leadership development
223. Mentoring
224. Merit-based pay
225. On-the-job training
226. Organizational career management
227. Orientation
228. Outplacement
229. Part-time employment
230. Pay compression
231. Pay-for-performance reward systems
232. Performance appraisal and feedback
233. Pygmalion effect
234. Quality of work life (QWL)
235. Redeployment
236. Retention programs
237. Retraining
238. Reverse mentoring
239. Sabbaticals
240. Strategic human resource management
241. Succession planning
242. Telecommuting
243. Three-hundred-sixty-degree (360°) evaluation
244. Training and development
245. Tuition reimbursement
246. Vocational education
247. Wellness and fitness programs


248. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
249. Civil Rights Act of 1964
250. Civil Rights Act of 1991
251. Collective bargaining
252. Domestic partner benefits
253. Employment contracts
254. Employment-at-will doctrine
255. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
256. Equal Pay Act
257. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
258. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
259. Hostile working environment
260. National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
261. Sweatshop labor
262. Work/life litigation
263. Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1992 (WARN)
264. Wrongful dismissal


265. Abilities
266. Allport-Vernon-Lindzey Study of Values
267. Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
268. Assessment centers
269. Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test
270. Big Five factors of personality
271. Business simulations
272. Butcher Treatment Planning Inventory (BPTI)
273. California Psychological Inventory
274. Campbell Interest and Skill Survey
275. Career anchors
276. Career decision-making styles
277. Career Decision Scale (CDS)
278. Career Development Inventory
279. Career maturity
280. Career Thoughts Inventory
281. Cognitive Differentiation Grid
282. Differential aptitude testing
283. Emotional intelligence
284. FIRO-B
285. General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB)
286. Hall Occupational Orientation Inventory
287. Intelligence, schooling, and occupational success
288. Interests
289. Kuder Career Assessments
290. Learning styles
291. Leisure interests
292. Life Style Inventory
293. Life-Career Rainbow
294. Lifestyle preferences
295. Locus of control
296. Machiavellianism
297. Minnesota Clerical Test
298. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2)
299. Multiple intelligences
300. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
301. Needs
302. Occupational card sorts
303. Occupational classification systems
304. Personal Globe Inventory
305. Personality and careers
306. Proactivity
307. Rokeach Values Survey
308. Self-Directed Search (SDS)
309. Sixteen Personality Questionnaire (16PF)
310. Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale
311. Strong Interest Inventory
312. Thematic apperception tests (TAT)
313. Tolerance for ambiguity
314. Type A behavior pattern
315. Values
316. Vocational Preference Inventory (VPI)
317. Wechsler Intelligence Scales
318. Wonderlic Personnel Test
319. Work values
320. Work Values Inventory


321. Electronic employment screening
322. Employment advertising
323. Exit interview
324. Handwriting analysis in hiring
325. Informational interview
326. Integrity testing
327. Internal labor markets
328. Internet career assessment
329. Internet recruitment
330. Job fairs
331. Job interviews
332. Job search
333. Knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs)
334. Networking
335. Occupational Information Network (O*NET)
336. Occupational Outlook Handbook
337. Organizational entry
338. Organizational image
339. Organizational staffing
340. Personnel selection
341. Realistic recruitment
342. Recruitment
343. References for employment
344. Resume
345. Unbiased hiring systems


346. American Counseling Association
347. American Psychological Association
348. Center for Creative Leadership
349. National Career Development Association

Sweeping changes in the nature of work, shifts in the meaning of career success, the rise of global business and international careers, heightened concerns over social influences on careers, and emerging labor laws and regulations influence the ways in which individuals, organizations, and the broader society view career development.

Our goal was to make this collection the premier reference tool for students, scholars, practitioners, and others interested in gaining knowledge or conducting research on career-related topics. We have kept the topical essays concise, easy to read, and jargon free, while ensuring that the content reflects the most current thinking and research on the particular topic. We have provided essays that are directly related to the field of career development and have expressly avoided tangential topics or biographical profiles that add pages but do not improve the content. Browse our career research site.

Career Guidance & Exploration

Related Research


Alston, R. J., Bell, T., & Hampton, J. (2002). Learning disability and career entry into the sciences: A critical analysis of attitudinal factors. Journal of Career Development, 28(4), 263–275.

This study explores perceptions and attitudes held by parents and teachers of students with learning disabilities (LD) about the students’ ability to succeed in science and engineering fields. The authors express concern that students with LD are being “weeded out” of science and engineering majors, largely due to a lack of accurate information about learning disabilities among parents, teachers, counselors, and potential employers. Misperceptions are often exacerbated by the lack of a standard definition of learning disabilities. Moreover, many parents believe that teachers are unwilling to provide accommodations, while many teachers believe that students with LD will lack adequate academic preparation. Many parents, and to a lesser extent, teachers, also believe that employers in these fields will be less likely to hire students with LD upon graduation. The article concludes with specific recommendations for guidance counselors to address these issues. They call for partnerships between guidance counselors and individuals with disabilities who are successful in these fields, to provide workshops for parents, teachers, and potential employers of students with LD. They also suggest that vocational rehabilitation counselors partner more closely with potential employers to provide job shadowing and internship opportunities.


Flores, L. Y., & Heppner, M. J. (2002). Multicultural career counseling: Ten essentials for training. Journal of Career Development, 28(3), 181–202.

This article includes a review of career guidance issues for students of color and provides resources and strategies for improving cultural competency of career guidance counselors. It notes that “underutilization” of career services by students of color may be linked to “poorly trained career counselors and culturally biased practices and techniques” (Atkinson, Jennings, & Liongson, 1990, p. 182; Leong, Wagner, & Tata, 1995). The authors critique Eurocentric tenets framing the theory, research, and practice of career counseling, and call for a more inclusive and accurate re-conceptualization. “These tenets include (a) individualism and autonomy, (b) affluence, (c) the structure of opportunity being open to all, (d) the centrality of work in people’s lives, and (e) the linearity, progressiveness, and rationality of the career development process” (Atkinson et al., 1990, p. 182). In addition to cultural competencies regarding career-specific behaviors and practices, the authors underscore the importance of understanding racial identity development and acculturation as they relate to career choices. Although the primary audience of the article is vocational counseling professionals and those who train them, both the critique and the recommended strategies provide important insights into key needs, issues, and rights for students of color with and without disabilities.


Gates, L. (2000). Workplace accommodation as a social process. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 10(1), 85–98.

This article explores social and relational factors in the workplace as key components to successful integration of workplace accommodations. These include more extensive disclosure of the disability, the role of the supervisor, education of coworkers, and increased role of support personnel where relevant. The author contends that this approach can improve workplace morale and individual self-esteem as well as positively impact job performance, job satisfaction, work retention, and productivity. Generalizability of the results is limited by the sample size and population in the study, however, the article raises important questions and offers sample interventions that may have broader application.


Sax, C., Noyes, D., & Fisher, D. (2001, September). High school inclusion plus seamless transition equals desired outcomes: A brief report. TASH Connections, Newsletter of the Association of Severe Handicaps, 27.

This study considers the employment outcomes for students with significant disabilities who have access to inclusive education and seamless transition. Thirty-three students with disabilities attending high school in a medium-sized southern California district and who met the definition of “severe disability” provided information on employment outcomes one week after exiting high school and again two months later. Results suggest that the six target students who had been given access to inclusive education and seamless transition (i.e., no disruption in services from school environment to adult environment) did benefit in terms of employment outcomes (e.g., average wages, hours per week worked, and job variety).


Yang, E., Wong, S. C., Hwang, M-h., & Heppner, M. J. (2002). Widening our global view: The development of career counseling services for international students. Journal of Career Development, 28(3), 203–213.

Recognizing that international students (with and without disabilities) have both shared and unique career guidance needs, the authors review one model of career services exclusively for international students. The Career Center at the University of Missouri, Columbia, is highlighted, as are the components necessary to meet the needs of this student population. These include information about graduate schools and entrance examination practices, language and cultural barriers, available employment opportunities, work permit policies, other legal requirements, specific skills for obtaining work experiences in the U.S., and career assessments. In addition to specific content and strategies, the authors address underlying issues such as the need to go beyond equal services, the importance of not homogenizing international students from diverse backgrounds, and the importance of placing career services within a cultural context. Although the primary audience of this article is career guidance practitioners, international students and their families may find it helpful in identifying and seeking specific supports.

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