The Career Key® Manual

Adult woman getting help from teacher

This summary is divided into the following seven parts:

  1. The Career Key Assessment
  2. Classification of Occupations
  3. Reliability and Validity
  4. Equivalence of the Paper-Pencil and Web-Based Versions
  5. Helpfulness of The Career Key
  6. Relationship to Career Clusters/Pathways & College Majors
  7. References

Go to the Store to buy the complete manual.


The mission of Career Key is "To help all people make the best career choices, worldwide. Online career assessment is the core of our business. We base our methods on the best science and practices of professional career counseling; accurate, comprehensive information; what is most practical and affordable; and the latest technological innovations. Always, we strive to empower and enrich people's working lives with the highest quality products and services."

Career Key strives to reach this mission by way of its enterprise, websites, and career measure.

The Career Key enterprise began as a philanthropy that now includes a for-profit element. The philanthropic efforts include offering,

  • Top quality self-help career guidance articles based on the best science and practices of professional career counseling at no charge;
  • The career assessment to groups of more than 30 (primarily schools) at a a below-cost, discounted rate;
  • The Career Key content and consultations to organizations in "developing countries" at reduced or no cost; and
  • Donating 10% of website sales to organizations working for the development of youth, the alleviation of human suffering, protection of the natural world, and excellence in journalism.

The for-profit segment of Career Key includes a) licensing the Career Key content to educational companies and organizations, and b) charges for website sales.

The Career Key websites include The Career Key, The Career Key Blog, The Self-Employment Key, and The Career Key Canada. In addition, the Career Key content is included in a number of web-based products by our licensees in the U.S., Canada, and other countries in several languages.

The Career Key measure (CK) assesses a person's resemblance to the six Holland types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Individuals learn about themselves and identify promising career options that match their personality/interests. The CK helps them understand the theory underlying the instrument, and it suggests further actions they can take to make a good career decision.

It was first published as a paper-pencil version in 1987 by Ferguson Publishing Company and later by Careers Inc. in 1990. The web-based version was launched in 1997 from North Carolina State University's server. It was the first professional-quality interest inventory on the Internet.

The Career Key is also unique because it links individuals' promising career options with comprehensive, accurate occupational information. Users are able to review authoritative information about their career options from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook. The CK was the first website to provide this powerful link.