One in three Brits in job that was NOT their first career choice


One in three Brits is currently working in a profession which was not their first choice career, it emerged today.

A study of 2,000 adults found many made big mistakes in their approach to work and regret the way their careers have turned out.

Six in ten feel they have wasted their potential due to a lack of direction in their early career, bad choices and an element of bad luck.

Many gave up on their ideal profession because opportunities were limited, while ‘real life’ simply got in the way of a quarter of workers.

Over half of those polled admitted that their past choices have left them ‘going nowhere’ in their current job with a lack opportunity and non-existent chances of progression.

The research, which was conducted by the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians), found four in ten felt their choice of career was a mistake and a similar number thought they were completely in the wrong job.

Jane Scott Paul, Chief Executive, AAT, said: ”The results are distressing. We spend most of our lives in the work environment so to know that many adults are feeling unchallenged with no motivation or career progression is a major problem for people’s wellbeing as well as having a detrimental effect on our economy now and in the future.

”It has been proven that people succeed if they are in jobs that they find stimulating, challenging and offer real career progression.

”Those who are unhappy in their careers need to know that you are never too old to learn and employers need to adopt an attitude that encourages lifelong learning so we can continue to fill the skills gap.

”We also need to offer better independent career advice from a younger age so that young people understand how education and jobs are intertwined so they can make the right choices when it matters most.”

The study also found 57 per cent admit they put little thought into their career at an early age and wish they could have done things differently.

While results unearthed a big lack of confidence and when reflecting on their performance at work, just 22 per cent described themselves as good at their job.

And the average person is happy at work just over half of the time – with 54 per cent the average happiness score.

The biggest factors leading to poor work happiness were stress, feeling underpaid and not being challenged day to day.

Many also voiced concerns with a lack of opportunity, while long hours and a lack of appreciation from the boss were also common.

Interestingly less than a third of people actually chose their current job – four in ten ‘fell’ into their role and over a fifth said it was just the only job available at the time.

A frustrated 40 per cent of people believe they are ‘too clever’ for their current job and are currently wasted where they are.

No surprises then that over half the 2,000 people studied said they felt ‘stuck in a rut’ when it came to their career.

But the biggest reasons for staying put were because of the desperate need of security, while a lack of confidence to change or belief that there aren’t many jobs out there keep many firmly rooted.


1.            It is very stressful
2.            I don’t get paid enough
3.            There are no perks
4.            I’m not stretched in my current role
5.            There are no opportunities to progress
6.            The boss never says thank you
7.            I work long hours
8.            The work environment isn’t very nice
9.            I was destined for better things
10.          I’m in completely the wrong profession
11.          I’m expected to work a lot of overtime
12.          I’m too intelligent
13.          The commute is terrible
14.          I never get a lunch break
15.          The pension plan is awful
16.          I don’t get on with colleagues
17.          The boss is a slave driver
18.          I’m constantly overlooked for promotions
19.          I don’t care about the work
20.          The company is understaffed


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