Classification of Occupations

The CK uniquely combines two major systems for classifying occupations: (a) the interest-based system of Holland and (b) the interest and worker trait-based system created by the U.S. Employment Security System (USEC) for the seminal book, Guide for Occupational Exploration (U.S. Department of Labor, 1979).

The Holland classification system is based on his six personality types; the USEC system is based on 12 interests and 66 work trait groups (more simply, "work groups"). Jones (1980) combined these two systems, integrating the best features of both. This combined system was first used with Occ-U-Sort (Jones, 1981), an occupational card sort system, and later with the CK. Subsequent editions of the GOE have used this integration by Jones (1980) when describing how the GOE and Holland systems are related.

As a practical matter, the combined system of the CK allows users to relate their Holland personality type to groups of occupations, "work groups", where the traits of the workers are similar with respect to interests, aptitudes, temperament, skills, and abilities.

For example, a person having a high score for the Artistic type is led to groups of occupations with titles like "Literary Arts" and "Visual Arts". Under "Visual Arts" he or she will find occupations like architect, art teacher, graphic designer, painter, and photographer (see example).

The Career Key classification system has several advantages:

  • It is based on John Holland's theory (1997). Hundreds of studies have investigated Holland's theory (Ruff, Reardon, Bertoch, 2008), and many of its key concepts have been supported. One of these, "congruence" -- the extent of the match between personality type and career/education choice -- has been shown to be positively correlated with career and educational success and satisfaction. It is the theory that career counselors most use today.
  • It is based on the expert work of job analysts at the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Occupations are grouped according to the easily understood concept of "work groups", as compared to two- or three-letter codes used by other systems: Compare "Literary Arts" as a grouping of occupations to "ASE" (for Artistic-Social-Enterprising).

In 2009 and 2014 the classification system was revised and updated (see complete manual for details).

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