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The AlmaLaurea database (http://www.almalaurea.it) offers broad documentation on the characteristics of university graduates who chose a teaching career one year, three years and five years after their degree, forming a representative sample of Italian school teachers. This article offers both a descriptive analysis of the data on the characteristics of the groups examined and some deeper study to bring out the ways in which the features of university-trained teachers differ from those of other university graduates. The underlying behaviour hypothesis is that educational and vocational choices depend not only on individuals’ social and cultural background but are also shaped by economic and socio-cultural motivations. The intent of the in-depth study is to determine the distinctive traits of the various groups of teachers, deliberately selected for uniformity with respect to their educational careers and their chances of employment.