Career Choices in a Medieval Fantasy World

I’m now working on some short stories based on the country I created in my series on worldbuilding.

The series of short stories is going to be called The Lannerain Chronicles. To create short stories, or perhaps novelette/novella length works, I think it will be easiest to focus on one character at a time and deal with a single plot line.

My first story, therefore, is going to focus on Caelan.

Caelan’s Story

Caelan is a teenager living in the city of Aldair. He is about to reach the age when he takes up an apprenticeship. I want him to end up as an apprentice wizard, and this story is going to focus on the plot surrounding his career choice.

So, if you intend to read the story when it’s finally written, that’s a spoiler! But, if you have been following my thought processes as I constructed this world, you knew that anyway. I don’t think it necessarily makes the journey less enjoyable. Reading the story will be like putting the last jigsaw puzzle into place.

This post is going to cover some background fantasy “research” I need to do in order to write my story.

Jobs in a Medieval Fantasy World

Firstly, I’m going to consider jobs. I need to know what Caelan’s potential career choices are to add some detail to the plot. So the following is a brainstorming session on medieval jobs. I’ve tailored them all to male terms as that’s what I’m looking at.

Army: foot soldier/cavalry/knight
City/castle watchman
City/castle guard
Castle servant
Adviser to the king
Clerk/accountant/tax collector
Tavern owner/brewer
Street cleaner
Religious role/monk/priest

Apprenticeship Rules

The next thing to consider is how Caelan will go about getting an apprenticeship.

A typical medieval setting would probably have traders split into guilds that offer apprenticeships. But that’s a bog standard approach and I’d rather come up with something slightly different.

So here’s my system:

In the city of Aldair, the king is a conscientious chap. He wants local businesses to flourish so that he can continue to take tax money. So he needs to ensure citizens are encouraged to train up the new generation in the various trades and occupations.

The king also needs a variety of people to work for him, as castle servants, as his army and guards, and as advisers. It’s also in his interest to encourage professions such as healers and wizards.

So with his own welfare in mind combined with that of promoting profitable businesses, the king has instituted an apprenticeship grant system.

Every business owner may apply to the king for a grant towards supporting an apprentice. An apprenticeship will last three years. A business can have up to three apprentices at one time. The king/his advisers will determine whether a business owner is allowed a grant based on their business profits and needs. He doesn’t want to encourage businesses that don’t have a future.

The king’s advisers keep a list of what apprenticeships are currently available to be taken up.

When a child turns sixteen, he or she must apply for an apprenticeship. He signs a probationary contract which involves a one month trial period with a test at the end. If he passes the test and his work is satisfactory, his apprenticeship commences and continues for three years.

If he fails the test, or doesn’t like any of the current apprenticeships on offer, he must work in a royal service or community service job for a year, before reapplying for an apprenticeship on his seventeenth birthday. Alternatively, he can stay in the service job. Community service jobs can be anything from street cleaners to messengers, and royal service jobs are castle servants and army footmen. After a person reaches the age of twenty, they can no longer apply for an apprenticeship and must remain in their service job.

When the three year apprenticeship is up, the apprentice must be offered a job by the trader. So businesses must have in mind that the receipt of a grant means that long term they will have a new employee.

So, this is the environment in which Caelan is situated. He is a few days away from his sixteenth birthday. Now he needs to know what his apprenticeship choices are…


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