Employment and Career: Career Assessments


Career Assessments:

Career assessments vary with the level of career planning.  For example, individuals who are unsure about their career direction would be in the career awareness stage.  Individuals in this stage of planning need to learn the value and purpose of work. Often this is a stage of career planning that occurs in elementary and middle school, before transition plans start.  However, there are instances when an individual requires repeated discussion and exposure to the world of work to become career aware. The types of assessments that aid in developing career awareness include attitude inventories, interest surveys, and self-knowledge assessments.  These assessments are typically informal, teacher developed, curriculum-based assessments. There are standardized interest inventories, and they can be very helpful, but teacher developed assessments that measure what the student knows now about careers and the value of work, and can measure attitude change after career awareness activities are presented, provide the best measure of the student understanding.

The second stage of career planning is career exploration. In this phase, individuals learn about the types of jobs that most interest them.  This stage includes the use of some standardized assessments such as occupation sorters. In an occupational sorter assessment, careers are presented in clusters that have like characteristics.  For example, jobs that are solitary in nature, mostly indoors, and involve using machinery or technology would be clustered together, like computer programmer, data entry tech, medical coder, etc.  Most of these assessments are based on the “Holland Codes”. This system of career clustering considers personal likes and preferences to identify groups of careers in the Realistic, investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional work personalities.  Once an individual understands what the types of jobs their interests connect to, they can read more about the job(s) they are interested in exploring by using the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This online publication was created by the Bureau of labor Statistics within eh U.S. Department of Labor.  Individuals can select an occupation by specific name (like police officer) or by category (Protective Service). The users will learn about what the job entails, what the work environment is like, how they can become one, how much they might make, what the job forecast is, and what other similar occupations might be.  This tool helps an individual learn more about a career before they move to the next phase within exploration that includes job shadowing and volunteering.

The third stage of career planning is career preparation.  This stage involves the development of a career path, or plan for learning about a chosen occupation.  Assessments are less important at this phase, rather hands on experiences are important. The types of assessments that might be incorporated into this stage are those that evaluate on-the-job activities.  An informal assessment that can answer the following questions is helpful.

  • How well does the individual take direction?
  • How efficiently does the individual complete their job duties?
  • How much support is needed for task completion?
  • Can the individual get to and from work independently?

The use of an employment Action Plan is helpful.  For an example of this see, Synatschk et al. (2006) manual.  The references for this manual and other listed resources are below.


Kathrine Synatschk, Gary Clark, James Patton, and Rozelle Copeland’s (2007) book, Employment and Career Planning by ProEd publishers.  The authors present The Holland Codes.  You can find more about the codes and take a brief quiz to find your work personality.  Click Here

Bls.gov: for the Occupational Outlook Handbook Click Here

Written by: Mary Louise Duffy, Ph.D. FAU-ACI and the Department of Exceptional Student Education