Interests to Careers

Welcome to this course on Holland’s theory of vocational interests and its use in career exploration and planning.

The course objectives are to

  • Introduce you to the Holland Vocational Personality Theory
  • Discuss ways that you can measure a person’s vocational interests
  • Review and complete a few exercises that will help you understand the Holland interest areas better and incorporate them into your work with students and clients
  • Review the research that supports the Holland theory

Who should take this course: This course is designed for school counselors, career development facilitators, university career center staff, career specialists and teachers, workforce development staff, career coaches and anyone working to assist students and clients in making career decisions. Successful completion of this course will earn you a certificate of completion of 5 clock hours. You have 30 days to complete this course.

Before starting the course, download the  worksheet and save it on your computer. On this worksheet you will add the answers to various questions as we go through the course.

Also, please record the amount of time it has taken you to finish this course. You will be asked to enter that information on the evaluation sheet.

Part 1READ Intro to Interests of the Holland theory, its interpretation, and its use in career development.  Next, view the first 5 minutes of this video to get a short description of why using the Holland theory can be helpful in career and work selection. View the video below.

Here is another video that gives you a bit of background on Holland’s theory.

Part 2VIEW the following video to learn more about the Holland theory and some ways that you can measure the interest areas of your students and clients. 

Before going to part 3, review the brief descriptions below of the Holland interest areas once again. Also, download the interest checklist Assessing What You Like and spend a few minutes taking the inventory. After you have completed both tasks, you can continue on to part 3.

Realistic (R). People in this category have a preference for the use of tools, working with their hands, working with animals, and working with objects and materials. Activities tend to be concrete and practical. Example occupations include instrument repairers, surveyors, mechanics, carpenters, airline pilots, and jewelers.

Here is an example video of an R occupation.

Investigative (I). Persons in this category have a preference for analytical work that involves observations, symbols, systematic problem solving, trouble-shooting and the creation and use of knowledge. Example occupations include scientists, researchers, statisticians, surgeons, pharmacists, and market research analysts.

Here is an example of an I occupations.

Artistic (A). People in this category enjoy creative work in the areas of music, writing, dance, performance, and art. They prefer to be in environments where they are free from systematized and ordered activities. Free expression is important. Example occupations include models, floral arrangers, dancers, sculptors, and musicians.

Here is an example of an A occupation.

Social (S). Persons in this group prefer working with and for people in a helpful and assistive way. They like to be involved in informing, teaching, training, solving personal problems for others, and curing people. Example occupations include nurses, physical therapists, teachers, clergy, and security guards.

Here is an example of an S occupation.

Enterprising (E). People in this category like to work with people in a persuasive way. They like to lead people, take risks for economic gain, sell, and achieve organizational goals. Example occupations include telemarketers, managers, program directors, sales representatives, coaches, and travel agents and guides.

Here is an example of an E occupation

Conventional (C). Individuals in this category prefer activities that are ordered with systematic rules and procedures. They like record keeping, filing materials, and organizing things into categories according to a precise plan. Example occupations include economists, tax preparers, librarians, accountants, and budget analysts. Descriptors of Conventional people would include careful, conforming, conscientious, efficient, inflexible, methodical, obedient, and thrifty (Holland, 1997, pgs.23-28).

Here is an example of a C occupation.

You can find more career videos at

View this video to see a short video that helps describe the personality types using some different labels.  It’s still Holland’s Theory.

Part 3VIEW this next video.  It will give you some ideas on how you can incorporate various activities on interests into school courses and discussions with your students and clients. Make sure you have your worksheet available. 

To review, READ the Holland code descriptions in the graphic below.  These are just some additional ways in which each code can be described.

Part 4 Many people like to find occupations that match their interest areas.  Using the O*NET system will help you do that using the US government’s database.  Have a look at this video.

Another way that the O*NET system helps you work with interests is through a tool called My Next Move.  On that site is an interest inventory called the Interest Profiler.  You can access it and take the inventory online.  Completing the inventory will give you a list of occupations sorted by job zone, just like was discussed in the previous video. Go ahead and access the tool here  or click on the image below and take the inventory.

Here is an explanation on the short form of the O*NET Interest Profiler.

For another short interest inventory that is Holland based, go to After taking the inventory, check out the results and the other descriptors or terms for the RIASEC codes.  For example REALISTIC = DOERS, INVESTIGATIVE = THINKERS, etc.

Now that you have a firmer grip on the Holland theory and its uses, READ this article, The Development, Evolution, and Status of Holland’s Theory of Vocational Personalities: Reflections and Future Directions for Counseling Psychology Margaret M. Nauta which summaries the research association with the Holland theory over a 50 year period.

Read this article on using the Holland theory in academic advising. 

Some people equate one’s interests with one’s passion, view the video below to see how one person sees passion/interests as part of the career development process .

Here is another way of thinking about who you are and making a career decision.  View this video.

Here is some recent research that discusses the harmful aspects of following your passion.

That’s it! Congratulations on completing the course.

Send your worksheet to Dr. Janet Wall  and complete the evaluation.


We hope you have gained from and enjoyed this course. We look forward to your taking our other courses.

Extend Your Learning

Purchase a Book of Activities to Use with Your Students and Clients 

Listen to Janet Lenz Describe the Holland Theory in More Depth on a Recorded Webinar (2.5 CEU clock hours)