"Well, Potter, this meeting is to talk over any career ideas you might have, and to help you decide which subjects you should continue into the sixth and seventh years. Have you had any thoughts about what you would like to do after you leave Hogwarts?"
-- McGonagall (OP29)
Hogwarts students receive career advice from their Heads of House in their OWL year, some weeks prior to the examinations, to help establish what subjects the students need to concentrate on to achieve the required OWL and NEWT scores for their chosen occupations.
In the UK version of the books, Chapter 29 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is entitled “Careers Advice”; the US books have “Career Advice” (OP29).
In fifth year, the students get Careers advice, which should help them choose their NEWT subjects. Bill Weasley told Ron about it before the start of the school year (OP12). Before their OWL examinations, during the Easter break, the students receive a batch of leaflets, advertising different jobs available to Hogwarts students and the NEWTs required for them (OP29). Examples are: Healing, Muggle relations, Wizard banking, training security trolls or working at the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes.
During the first week of summer term, the students discuss their future careers with their Heads of House during a careers appointment (OP29, also called careers consultation). Harry discusses his wish to become an Auror with Professor McGonagall, who describes it as a difficult career path to take. The requirements are high: five NEWTS and the passing of character and aptitude tests. On-the-job Auror training then takes another three years of study.
Notes and other interesting facts
Percy Weasley is still reading about his future career possibilities after his careers advice. In Diagon Alley, he reads about the later careers of Hogwarts prefects, just before he starts his sixth year (CS4).
Harry first thought of his career after Hogwarts when he discussed it with the fake Mad-Eye Moody in his fourth year (GF9). Moody suggested that he (and Hermione) would be suitable to become Aurors.
We actually only see Harry's careers appointment with Professor McGonagall, and also do not hear about the discussion she must have had with both Hermione or Ron (OP29), or the one with Ginny in the following year.
Oddly enough, the students of Hogwarts do not appear to receive similar counselling at the end of their second year, when they choose the elective subjects that may determine their future careers. [Muggle students in many UK state schools don't get much in the way of advice for their equivalent level GCSE subject choices either. --td]
From the Web
- OWLs - What Wizarding Career Do You Want?
- Jobs These Nine “Harry Potter” Characters Would Have If They Were Muggles
Harry Potter Wiki: Jobs in the Wizarding World
WizardingWorld (Pottermore) features:
- Pottermore's guide to wizarding careers
- Which wizarding career would be right for you?
- The best and worst wizarding jobs
BBC Bitesize: What's your perfect wizarding world career?