Abstract Young people today face a great deal of uncertainty regarding their career opportunities, yet relatively little information is known about the correlates and consequences of uncertain aspirations. Drawing upon the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE) born in 1989/90, this study examined a pathway model investigating whether uncertain career aspirations and other associated variables mediate the link between socioeconomic status and prior achievement and later educational outcomes. Gender differences were also examined. Findings indicate that adolescents who had lower prior achievement and were from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were more likely to have uncertainty in their career aspirations. The hypothesized model was supported to some extent, indicating that uncertain career aspirations and other associated variables were significant mediators. Unexpectedly, adolescents with uncertain career aspirations had higher academic performance at age 16 and a greater likelihood of educational enrollment at age 18 compared to those with high, certain aspirations, when parental educational expectations, school motivation, perceived academic ability and useful career advice were taken into account, suggesting that these young people may benefit from an extended period of moratorium in their career choice.