Motivations for choosing teaching as a career were investigated in 200 pre-service teachers from Canada and Oman. We used a novel structured qualitative approach and two theoretical models to analyze how pre-service teacher career-choice motivation varied according to cultural context. The results of the study showed that Canadian participants made more self-references, and expressed higher levels of individual-focused motivation and social utility value as career motivators than did Omani participants. Participants from Oman expressed greater endorsement of teaching as a fallback career and higher levels of sociocultural influences than Canadian participants. Results extend teacher motivation "teacher motivation theory" by investigating socio-cultural influences. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.