It will be a common occurrence for any astrologer who puts up a shingle to be asked what someone should do for a living, what they should major in college, what they are meant to do in this world. Money, sex/love, and health are the main three things anyone asks about; all inquiries generally fall within one of the three. Even things about karma, destiny, or soul purpose generally fall within these three categories. So, it is no wonder that we are often asked what sort of career a person should have.
There are many ways to go about figuring this out. Noel Tyl has a dispositor method, as written in his book, Vocations. Like a lot of his methods, things tend to fit into neat packages. You look to the midheaven and then follow the ruler of the midheaven around the natal chart until you arrive at an impasse, which is either final rulership when a planet is in it‘s natural sign, or when planets go around and around in a circle. For example, someone with a Gemini midheaven has Mercury ruling the midheaven and the 10th house. Mercury is in 6th house Aquarius, and Uranus is in Sagittarius in the 4th house. Jupiter is in Libra in the 2nd house, and Venus is Libra too, so Venus is the final dispositor. This person needs to communicate (Gemini) about health (Aquarius) in a shocking, new way so as to explore (Sagittarius) relationships and harmony (Libra). This person is a journalist of sex and couples‘ therapy? Now, we look at the moon and the sun: The moon is in Cancer and the sun is in Leo. This person needs to be number one mother or father. This person probably has a paternal or maternal persona and are recognized by name. Good lord: is this Dr. Ruth?! I don‘t know who that person is though. I just made this person up.
This, I think, illustrates an inherent weakness in using formulas to determine vocation. It could be very possible this person has no interest at all in those things, since careers and signs are multi-faceted things. For charts with no final dispositor, like mine, you have to go a little further. Also, people who have mutable signs on the angles tend to have more than one career, in which the careers can differ dramatically: I don‘t mean going from selling commercial real estate to selling houses. I mean two or more totally different careers, like being a stock broker then becoming a high school teacher.
I think there are more flexible approaches, like Judith A. Hill‘s Vocational Astrology (who is, by the way, an excellent astrologer, if you are looking for a session), which actually help an astrologer work with people who aren‘t too easy to read. And by that, I mean that there are charts that are more complex than others, with more contradictions to reconcile (making for a much more complex person), more life possibilities and more possible life changes.
However, one of the major limitations to vocational astrology is that astrologers simply can‘t know everything about vocations. For example, I‘m going to law school. I‘m also a rather Neptunian person: I have Pisces rising, the South node in Pisces in the 12th house, Neptune conjunct the midheaven. I‘m a chameleon. But, but…isn‘t law more of a Libra/Sagittarius thing? Is it not a 9th house/7th house thing? Well, yes, I do have the sun in 9th house Sagittarius, and Jupiter is in my 6th house of work. And it is in detriment in Virgo. Most of my planets, and my angles, are in the mutable signs. We learn from seeing Jack McCoy on Law and Order that lawyers are supposed to be hotheaded, single-minded, bloviating and determined. But that is television. However, one thing you learn quickly as you enter law school, and something most people don‘t readily know, is that the practice of law requires comfort with ambiguity and nebulousness (Pisces). There is no right or wrong answer; it depends. Everything depends on something else, and usually some detail, some context, some circumstances. A person who is comfortable with gray areas is going to be comfortable studying law. A person who can empathize with others and see all sides of the issue is going to be able to write a more successful legal memo than someone who can only see in one direction. Even though I do have the traditional signs for aptitude in the legal careers, what should be a deterrent — my Piscean nature — is actually the driving factor of my interest. Believe me: Pisces rising people, with their ability to absorb feelings, just naturally get people to say and do things they might not otherwise do, against their better judgment, in front of other people, on record. We are always underestimated, and when we realize that, it stops being a liability and becomes an asset. It‘s a silver lining around the cloud of being an emotional dumpster.
Ah, but given what you know, shouldn‘t I be an artist of some sort? I am. I was. I still do a lot of this, but for a living, it doesn‘t work for me. I don‘t like having a job where I have to work to someone else‘s specifications or to flatter them. I would hate to have to paint something awful to make someone else happy, to dye someone‘s hair a color that looks bad, to design bathrooms for the rest of my life. What about a martyr of some type, a humanitarian? I am, sometimes. Now, I‘m also not supposed to be an astrologer either, given that I lack Aquarian influence, but I have come to see that Sagittarius is actually quite a beneficial sign to have for one interested in this sort of thing, seeing as how it is no longer so much Aquarian (meaning shocking, strange, or novelty), and now a way of bridging different people and getting a bird‘s eye view of things (which is Sagittarian).
I‘m not saying that we should throw out the traditional significators for vocational astrology. However, they are lacking, because they were chosen by astrologers, who tend to only have intimate knowledge of a few careers, usually astrology, and thus are determined from the outside looking in and not for every possibility, and not in a world in which vocations are evolving.This is more than likely to be the case for any given astrologer trying to determine vocation. For example, planets in the 8th house means being good at finance or psychology, but does it mean a career in finance or psychology? Are these not major parts of other careers, like say…an actuary, or being a film producer, or a stock market analyst, a forensic accountant, or a pharmaceutical representative?
The best way, I think, to get around the inherent limitations of offering vocational advice to those in a world with many vocational possibilities is to begin with talents and shift away from titles. It is up to the native him- or herself to find the career. Even though clients will come to you wanting ideas, it is better to start broad and to not rule out possibilities. First, if the client has a genuine interest in something, regardless of whether or not you see it in the chart, assume it is in the chart somewhere, for some reason. For example, a person who may have no imagination or aptitude in the chart for acting may want to be an actor. But why? Look and see what could determine this need. Perhaps this person doesn‘t really have an interest in acting but wants to be recognized and adored. Address that issue. True, some people may be delusional, but every delusion has an origin in a deep-seated need.
Don‘t say no, no you can‘t do it. Never say no. There has to be something else the person can do that can address their desire even if you are sure that the suggested vocation isn‘t for him or her. If a person genuinely wants to be a writer, don‘t say no, sorry, you don‘t have any emphasis in Gemini. Why does the person like to write? What is the reason for this? That will lead you around the chart to the true vocation. There are so many vocations that require writing that may fit in with the person‘s desire to write. Lawyers, for example, probably write more than journalists do, and their work has equal implications for their communities. Litigators spend more time in front of audiences than struggling actors. Let‘s say a person wants to be a lawyer because they like the idea of having power and money (another delusion). Start with that. Perhaps they have no aptitude for law in the chart, but maybe, as a business person, they can persuade, make money, have power, and not have to deal with things they wouldn‘t like, like endless paperwork and hours alone researching statutes.
Another thing to keep in mind are the significators of karma and destiny: the nodes, the Vertex, the moon, and Saturn. What happens to these by aspect, transit, and progression are going to say a lot about what a person is meant to be doing in this incarnation and what the likelihood of fulfilling the soul‘s purpose. Someone with the north node in 6th house Virgo is simply not going to grow up to become a world-famous movie star and thrive on the attention. They may use it to serve their humanitarian endeavors, like Audrey Hepburn, but they need to serve and to heal. Someone with Saturn in the 10th house has to make their own way in life and be patient. They cannot expect their lives to be handed to them. Someone with the Moon in the 1st house cannot live a life ignored; they will always strike an emotional chord in the people they meet and need to be emotionally connected to the world. [Planets on the Aries Points also lead a person to be known and to seek out worldly greatness/to do what gets them a lot of attention. Chiron also may show where a person is good at being an example to others, through teaching, or as a living cautionary tale.] Sometimes, when a person seeks a career that may not be ideal for them, they are speaking solely from the desires of the nodes or of the moon. There must be a way to translate this into something they can do practically and holistically.
One of the other issues with vocational astrology is that usually, the clients are either rather young and don‘t know themselves well enough, or are going through a mid-life or mid-career crisis. The latter is easier to work with, as they are more open to ideas and to consideration that who they think they are isn‘t all that they are. The prior is more difficult, as they tend to cling to the image of themselves they develop though their ascendant, and not everyone‘s ascendant or the ruler of it will tell them about their careers. Those who are young tend to take in factors like impressing peers or pleasing parents, while older clients have limitations like families, age, and earning power. It may not be in the best interest of a 35 year old thinking of changing careers to try to get recruited by the NFL; there must be something else sports-related he or she can do. It may not be in the best interest of a 20-year-old to tell them that they should be a pre-med major because you just know they would be a great doctor. First, you don‘t need to be pre-med to go to medical school, and second, unless they definitely want to go into medicine, shepherding them into a narrow field that requires a lot of financial and personal commitment to get through medical school alone may not be part of the actual life purpose for them. So, perhaps the young person has a lot of 6th house/8th house Virgo/Scorpio and Mercury indicators that he or she should be a healer. Well, then what is healing? Is modern medicine about healing? Charts, paperwork, reading test results? Reconciling what you want to do as a doctor versus what you can do given the patients‘ health insurance and the hospital‘s liability? How much of it is about selling drugs, or fixing what is wrong so someone can go home and heal? If you have ever been in a hospital for a night or more, you know that it is no place to rest and recover. How else can people be healed?
As an astrologer who does vocational astrology, be flexible, be creative, and most importantly, know that careers and fields of work are holistic. Have an active interest in learning about different vocations and what they are actually like. The military isn‘t all rank-and-file and protecting and fighting; it is also about being on the cutting edge of technology and understanding the minds of people of other cultures. Teaching isn‘t about liking being around children so much as it is about classroom management and and sales (grades are sales goals). I worked with lots of people in Korea who just love little kids. Some were incredible babysitters, but teachers? Not so much. Take what the client gives you and work with it. If they have an interest in something, it is indicated in the chart, even if there doesn‘t seem to be an aptitude for it at first blush. Trust me. Look a little harder. It is there. Good astrologers can make these connections. Better astrologers can work with them. Great astrologers can understand why and help a person find what they are really looking for.