The Holland Code Career Test



The Holland Code, also known as Holland Occupational Themes (RIASEC), is a theory of career choice and vocational interests developed by John L. Holland, an American psychologist, in the late 1950s. The theory suggests that people's career choices are influenced by their personality types and that certain personality types are more likely to be attracted to specific career fields.

Taking the Holland Code or similar "SDS" (Self Directed Search) Assessments

The assessment begins with an Interest Inventory, where you are presented with a series of questions or statements related to various activities, work environments, and hobbies. You are asked to rate your level of interest or enjoyment for each item.

Example Holland Code Questions

Rate your level of interest on a scale of 1 to 5.

1 = Dislike the most.
5 = Most Like

meter showing level of Interest

Some versions of the assessment will allow you to rate your level of interest on a scale (1-5, for example, or like to dislike), while others ask you to select the options that interest you.

  • Rate your level of interest in editing photos for a magazine.
    1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5       1 =  dislike, 3 = Neutral, 5 = strong like
  • Rate your level of interest in using a microscope to examine cells.
  • Rate your level of interest in giving a TED Talk.
  • Rate your level of interest in coaching a middle school sport.
  • Rate your level of interest in planning a large social event.
  • Rate your level of interest in constructing a drainage system.
  • Rate your level of interest in designing a floor plan for a house.
  • Rate your level of interest in selling luxury homes.
  • Rate your level of interest in researching for a documentary.
  • Rate your level of interest in catering for a wedding.

Results of the Holland Code

According to the Holland Code theory, individuals tend to gravitate toward work environments that align with their dominant personality types.

For example, a person with a dominant "Artistic" personality might feel most fulfilled working in a creative and expressive environment, while someone with a dominant "Realistic" personality might thrive in a hands-on and practical job setting.

Based on your interest inventory responses, The Holland Code determines your dominant personality type(s). It identifies you as one of the six broad personality types, each represented by a letter from the acronym RIASEC.

The Six Holland Code
Personality Types (RIASEC)

infographic holding up a bulb and a wheel representing realistic

Realistic (R)

Realistic individuals are practical, hands-on, and enjoy working with tools, machinery, and physical tasks. They are often drawn to careers in construction, engineering, agriculture, and other skilled trades.

magnifying glass info graphic representing investigative

Investigative (I)

Investigative people are curious, analytical, and enjoy solving problems through research and analysis. They are inclined toward scientific, technical, and research-oriented fields, such as science, mathematics, and information technology.

painters brush representing artistic

Artistic (A)

Artistic individuals are creative, imaginative, and express themselves through art, design, or writing. They often pursue careers in the arts, media, entertainment, and creative industries.

social media in a circle representing social

Social (S)

Social individuals are empathetic, caring, and enjoy helping others. They are often drawn to careers in healthcare, counseling, teaching, and social work, where they can positively impact people's lives.

building with a growth chart infographic representing enterprising

Enterprising (E)

Enterprising people are ambitious, persuasive, and enjoy leading and influencing others. They will likely be found in sales, marketing, business management, and entrepreneurship.

people talking in person info graphic representing conventional

Conventional (C)

Conventional individuals are organized, detail-oriented, and enjoy working with data and numbers. They are often found in administrative roles, finance, accounting, and other structured and systematic occupations.

Career Guidance Based on Your Type

The assessment then lists career options that align with your dominant personality types. Based on the Holland Code, it suggests potential careers that may suit your interests and preferences. The assessment results are intended to be a starting point for career exploration.

You can then research the suggested careers further to learn about their job responsibilities, education requirements, salary, and other relevant information.

It's important to note that while the Holland Code theory provides valuable insights, career choices are influenced by many factors beyond personality types, including individual preferences, abilities, education, and life experiences.



While the Holland Code is a useful tool for understanding career preferences and potential occupational matches based on personality types, it also has several limitations that individuals should be aware of:

Simplistic Model: The Holland Code reduces complex human personalities into only six broad categories. In reality, individuals are much more diverse and multi-faceted, and their interests and abilities may not fit neatly into these categories.

Limited Career Options: The Holland Code may not account for emerging or less traditional career paths that have evolved in response to societal and technological changes. It may overlook certain niche careers that could fit individuals well.

Lack of Depth: The Holland Code focuses primarily on interests and preferences related to work environments and activities. It doesn't consider other essential factors in career decision-making, such as personal values, work-life balance, salary expectations, and job market conditions.

Overlooking Skills and Aptitudes: While personality is a significant factor in career satisfaction, skills and aptitudes are equally important. The Holland Code doesn't directly address an individual's competencies and talents, which can significantly influence career success.

Cultural and Gender Bias: The Holland Code was developed in the 1950s, and its norms may reflect the cultural and gender biases of that era. It may not fully capture the diverse career interests and opportunities that are now available to people of all backgrounds and genders. Changes over Time: People's interests and preferences can change due to personal growth, life experiences, or evolving goals. The Holland Code doesn't account for these changes and may not be as relevant throughout an individual's entire career journey.

Lack of Individualization: Since the Holland Code classifies people into only six types, it doesn't offer a highly personalized assessment. It may not account for individual variations within each personality category.

Labeling and Stereotyping: There is a risk of individuals feeling confined or limited by the labels assigned to them based on the Holland Code. It can reinforce stereotypes and prevent people from exploring careers outside their assigned personality types.

Limited Cross-Cultural Validity: The Holland Code was initially developed in a Western context and may not fully translate to other cultural contexts, where different values and career norms may exist.

Despite these limitations, the Holland Code can still serve as a valuable starting point for career exploration. When using this tool, it's essential to consider its insights alongside other factors like skills, values, goals, and the current job market. Combining multiple career assessments and guidance from career professionals can provide a more comprehensive understanding of suitable career options and help individuals make well-informed decisions about their future.