Mission, History, and Acknowledgments


We strive to be the #1 source for expert, professional help in making career and educational choices -- affordable to all.

Our website gives you expert help with career choices -- career changes, career planning, job skills, and choosing a college major or educational program.

It is based on the best science and practices of career counseling . . . and the most complete and accurate information available.

The Career Key test is one of the few professional-quality career tests on the Internet. The results of scientific studies show that it measures what it is supposed to; as experts say, it has validity. This is not true for virtually all of the career tests, sorters, profilers, and quizzes on the web. Beware that invalid career measures can mislead or harm you. More ...

Career Key is the first to link the Holland personality types to all college majors and career clusters/pathways -- after more than a year of research and analysis. Students can now match their interests and personality to majors and programs of study with confidence. Research shows that, overall, the better the match, the better the grades and and likelihood of graduation! Read our free e-book, Choosing a College Major Based on Your Personality, What does the research say? More on matching college majors or career clusters/pathways.

My wife, Jeanine Wehr Jones, and I fund this site because we want to help people and their families, worldwide, lead happy and more satisfying lives. By providing accurate, practical information to everyone, we hope The Career Key will empower people to make informed decisions and act in their best self-interest and, ultimately, the best interests of their country. More on our charitable giving.


The origins of The Career Key was the author's development of the first occupational card sort, The Occu-Sort, in 1977, for males and females (the first card sort, the Non-Sexist Vocational Card Sort, was developed for use with women). When published by CTB/McGraw-Hill in 1981, it was retitled Occ-U-Sort®. The first nationally published study was "Occ-U-Sort Kit: Educational and Career Guidance Through the Library", in the Journal of Counseling & Development ( DOI: 10.1111/j.2164-4918.1983.tb00012.x).

The Career Key (CK) was first published in 1987 by the Ferguson Publishing Company. In 1990, Careers, Inc. became its publisher. During this period, a number of studies showed that its validity and reliability were comparable to similar instruments and that users found it helpful.

In 1997 the CK was launched on the Internet as a free public service primarily for middle and high school students. Since then, numerous refinements and additions have been made, and it is widely used by students and adults. The number of schools, colleges, libraries, and career services linking to the website has rapidly grown -- more than 1000. There were 1.8 million visitors in 2004.

The Career Key has been adapted for use in other countries. In 2001, we funded the translation, programming, and launch of the Chinese Career Key (CCK). Dr. Siu-Man Raymond Ting at N. C. State University provided expert consultation throughout. He is coauthor of the paper-pencil CCK and has an active research program with its use in Hong Kong, collaborating with the Hong Kong Career Masters

Professor Wan-Suk Gim, at Ajou University, developed a Korean version of the Career Key a well known and respected public service for students and adults in South Korea.

Ms. Angela deFreitas developed a Caribbean version of the Career Key that is used extensively by thousands of students and adults, primarily in Jamaica.

In 2002, a Spanish version of the paper-pencil measure was developed and field-tested in North Carolina. It is available through our Store.

In 2004, a Romanian version was developed in collaboration with USAID and Sociale Alternative for use with a program for Romanian youth, primarily to prevent the exploitation of youth, especially sex slavery trafficking. The Romanian Career Key is now being distributed to teachers and counselors by UNICEF.

Career Key Canada was launched in 2007 and has become a respected and popular source of practical, professional-quality help.

In 2007-2008 it was translated into Vietnamese and Arabic. The photo below shows us in Istanbul where we presented our work at the International Counseling Congress in 2008.

International Counseling Congress

In 2010-11 we are working with a team in Turkey to create a Turkish version.

The Career Key is also being used in other countries, including Mexico, Argentina, New Zealand, India, Australia, Taiwan, Britain, and Singapore.

Return to Top


Ideas and Research of Others

I thank my wife, Jeanine Wehr Jones, for her loving support -- and sharp editorial pencil.

Special thanks to my friend and colleague Professor Edwin R. Gerler, Jr.. Without his creative vision and generous support, this web site would not exist. I also very much appreciate the support of faculty, students, and administrators at North Carolina State University -- Stanley Baker, Joan Michaels, June Brotherton, Lisa Grable, Harry Nicholos, in particular. The College of Education is doing an outstanding job, and it has enriched my life and work to be a part of it.

Many other contributions were made by colleagues in North Carolina. Special recognition is due to the school, college, and career counselors -- too numerous to mention -- who have field tested the Career Key and generously offered their ideas and support; and Nancy MacCormac, former Executive Director, and Judy Woodson Bruhn, the current Director of the N.C. State Occupational Information Committee.

Designers, Programmers & Others

Photos of degigners, programers and others
Lawrence Jones (left), Nathan Keene (middle),
and Andrew Wieselquist (right).
Career Key 2003-2005 Team Photo

Andrew Wieselquist (right) is currently enrolled in the North Carolina State University Department of Computer Science. He is the lead programmer and web consultant for the Career Key. Some of his contributions include the following: various cgi and html revisions, complete documentation, and the Store.

Nathan Keene (middle) is also a Computer Science student at NCSU. He is a programmer and web consultant for the Career Key. His accomplishments include, but aren't limited to the following: various new html modules, html revisions, and the Store.

Since our move to Oregon, we have been fortunate to have the talented services of the Gravitate Design Studio and Jeremiah Designs in redesigning our website.

photo of Jian Li

Jian Li was a graduate student at North Carolina State University. From 1999 to 2003 he was the web consultant and programmer for the Career Key website. During this period, he and Longlong Yang programmed the Chinese Career Key website.

Nathanael Ehrich was a student in the North Carolina State University (NCSU) Department of Computer Science. He was the web consultant and programmer for the 1999 revision of the Career Key website.

photo of Brian Burney

Brian Burney was a Freshman at North Carolina State University (NCSU). He was responsible for assisting in the design and conversion to the May 2000 revision.

Sunny Kwok received his Master of Graphic Design in the NCSU School of Design in May, 1999. He led the team in the Spring of 1999 in the structuring and graphic design of the redesigned website.

photo of Craig Atkins

Craig Atkins, a Masters degree student in Landscape Architecture at NCSU's School of Design, design consultant for the final stages of the 1999 revision.

photo of Panchali Sau

Panchali Sau, a senior in NCSU's School of Design, design consultant for the final stages of the 1999 version.

Scott Sams was also a student in the NCSU Department of Computer Science. He did all of the original programming and CGI scripting for the Career Key site. He has produced numerous commercial web sites.

Merry Carol Ward received her doctorate in May, 1999 from the NCSU Department of Psychology. She contributed significantly to the research and evaluation of the site and its components.

Barbara L. Glover developed the initial graphics, animation, and programming for the site in 1997.

Return to Top

Ideas and Research of Others

This site would not be possible without the ideas and research done by countless educators, counselors, labor analysts, and psychologists. I would like to recognize in particular:

  1. The creators of the Occupational Outlook Handbook at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, including Mike Pilot, Chief, Division of Occupational Outlook, for his assistance;
  2. John L. Holland, the counseling psychologist whose theory and research is the foundation of many ideas found in this site and career counseling, in general;
  3. The creators of the Guide for Occupational Exploration at the U.S. Employment Service; and
  4. Irving L. Janis and Leon Mann for their pioneering research in the psychological analysis of conflict, decision making, and commitment.

I also thank the many visitors to the Career Key website who have offered their encouragement and ideas for strengthening the site.

Return to Top