Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Career Clusters, Career Pathways & Our Updated E-Book

"5 Steps to Choosing a Career Cluster, Field, or Pathway" has just been updated. It includes the most recent updates to The Career Key test and the most recent assignments of Career Clusters and Career Pathways found on O*NET OnLine.

Found in our eBookstore, "5 Steps" costs $9.95 with a special discount for purchasing both the Career Key test and the e-Book together.

Career Key's approach is to use its valid assessment of Holland's six personality types to match students to occupations, then to the clusters and pathways related to those occupations.

Our e-book is the only one that matches students' interests in this way. We also have a free online article called "Choosing a Career Cluster, Field or Pathway" with a free downloadable Career Key Map of the 16 Career Clusters.

The 16 Career Clusters and 79 Career Pathways are not organized by interests (but by industries and required skills, knowledge). So it's important to give students a scientifically valid way to match their interests to occupations within those clusters and pathways.

I uploaded to YouTube a video overview of Career Key's Career Clusters and Career Pathways resources, including the new version of the e-book.

If you are interested in Career Clusters and Career Pathways, you might read these related blog posts:
Career Clusters Interest Survey Validity Questioned by Study
NCDA Article on Using Interests to Organize Matching College Majors, Career Clusters and Pathways
NCDA (National Career Development Association)

Please see the related press release, "Career Key's Updated e-Book Enables Students to Choose the Best Career Cluster and Career Pathway."

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Career Key Career Test Adds New Occupations

We just updated the career options and occupations listed in The Career Key career test to keep pace with changes in our economy and the world of work.

For all six Holland personality types (RIASEC), test takers will get to choose from:

  • Occupations with a real future, most with a positive job outlook; and
  • A variety of occupations with different skill and education requirements.

Here are a few samples of new occupations we added:

Realistic: Railroad Yardmaster
Investigative: Network Engineer
Artistic: Medical and Scientific Illustrator
Social: Nurse Informaticist
Enterprising: Medical and Health Services Manager
Conventional: Production, Planning, or Expediting Clerk

These occupations were also added to our self-scoring, paper-pencil version of The Career Key test, found in our eBookstore.

Other related and helpful Career Key articles:

Here is the full PRWeb press release announcing the new career options in our career test...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Green Careers: How to Choose One in this Economy

If you are exploring green careers and care about the environment, try following the tips in our newly updated web article, "Green Economy: Match Your Personality to Green Jobs". In addition to showing you how the green economy impacts you, the article gives you 4 steps to follow in your career decision-making.

It shows nearly two hundred Green Jobs by Holland personality type and recommends you look at other career options that make "green" contributions, like teachers and clergy.

Don't limit yourself to thinking that a "Green Job" only means occupations like "wind turbine technician" and "solar panel installer." If your strongest personality types are Artistic or Social, there are plenty of green contributions you can make.

First, match your interests to occupations, then brainstorm ways your green values can fit in.  What can you do with a nursing degree that might be "green"? What about focusing on public health or occupational health?  For more ideas on how to learn about your career options, visit our Green Jobs article.

Even though the Green Economy has gotten a fair amount of negative press recently, with the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra's bankruptcy and the use of Federal green job training dollars topping the news, I don't think it means green jobs are not promising. Here's one NYT commentator who thinks solar power is more than a "hippie fantasy." The current job market and economy is challenging for just about any industry other than software and Internet commerce.

Regardless of one's politics, global warming and impacts on humans of environment factors are not going away. And I wouldn't wait for a clear job outlook prediction in this politically charged and slow economy.  Besides, you may be living in a nursing home by the time the boxing match between China and the U.S. solar power industries is decided.

Don't wait for others to give you a green light.

My favorite green economy and green career information links:
Occupational Outlook Handbook Green Careers
O*NET Green Economy
CareerOneStop's "Find Education and Training"
Industry (I'll be updating this shortly - but until then, check the industry associations for careers you're interested in, like alternative energy, environmental health, etc.)

See also our PRWeb Press release on Green Jobs.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to Choose an Encouraging College Major Environment that Leads to Success

When you choose a college major, you are also choosing an environment- with surroundings and conditions that an encourage and discourage you.

For you to be successful, research shows that you should choose a college major environment compatible with your Holland personality.

To learn about how professors create this environment, and how to learn more about whether it's the right personality fit for you, visit Career Key's new 3 part series of self-help articles:

  1. Personality-College Major Match, Why it is Important - recommendations on matching your Holland personality to majors;
  2. The Holland College Major Environments - how they are created and a description of what the six Holland environments are; and
  3. Learn More about College Major Environments - practical, concrete steps you can take to investigate the environments that interest you.
Be sure to explore Career Key's other articles on college major advice, like:

and our related free PDF e-books:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Love Halloween? Business Opportunities and Self-Employed Side-Career Ideas

If you love Halloween – I mean, really LOVE it – you might consider a self-employed side business centered around the holiday.  According to Value Village (a popular Halloween destination retailer), the average family of four will spend $300 to celebrate the holiday.  To learn more about Halloween economics, both in the U.S. and Canada, check out these links:

National Retail Federation’s “Big Blog” post on Halloween Econ this year, with a related CNN video

If you don’t love Halloween, you might browse the Holiday and Consumer Trends News at the National Retail Federation website for ideas about other holidays.

As you can see from the above photo, I am probably not the best potential customer, encouraging my son’s idea to “make my own [crow] costume.” Being a crow and the wing design were his ideas – not bad for Pre-K engineering. Cost: zero.  Added bonus - his black turtleneck outfit could conveniently convert to a Steve Jobs costume in case of costume malfunction/destruction.

For the record, this year our family spent $30 on Halloween candy, $30 on pumpkins and $30 on two trips through corn mazes.  Shows where our priorities lie: gourds, navigating maps (but you knew that already) and stuffing ourselves with leftover candy….

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Promising Conventional Careers 2011: Administration, Health, and Records

If you're a Conventional personality type, employers are looking for your structured, orderly approach to records, numbers or machines in many promising careers. Administrative careers involving mathematical detail or the ability to work well with material or records processing systems are in demand. In the last post of this 6 part series, Promising 2011 Careers that Match Your Personality, we list occupations compatible with the Conventional Holland personality type.

We recommend starting with Part 1, our introduction and tips on how to use this Promising Careers list. To see promising careers for the other five Holland personality types, see our other posts in this series:
Realistic CareersInvestigative Careers, Artistic Careers, Social Careers, and Enterprising Careers.

The world of Conventional occupations has greatly changed in the last 50 years.  Paper handling and filing occupations of the past have disappeared with better computers, information technology, and outsourcing.  But if you combine the needs of a more high-tech world with analytical skills and attention to detail, you will find Conventional jobs that pay well and have a positive job outlook.

Combining an occupation (from any personality type) with a growth industry (health care, information technology (see my previous post on high-tech in particular), energy, and materials moving and processing) is a recipe for more job opportunities.

When researching career information, make sure to use BOTH the O*NET (occupations below link to it) and the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). There is a link to the OOH at the end of each O*NET occupation page. Read this previous post about their different advantages and disadvantages.

Promising Conventional Careers by Career Key Work Group

Holland's Theory of Career Choice and a description of the Conventional personality type

Mathematical Detail

Financial Detail

Material and Records Processing

Administrative Detail

Regulations Enforcement

For ideas on how to learn more career information about the occupations and jobs that interest you, visit these Career Key website articles:
Learn More About Occupations
Learn More About the Jobs that Interest Me
3 Tips to Finding a Promising Job in High-Tech or Any Growth Industry

Friday, September 30, 2011

Promising Careers 2011 Part 5: Enterprising Careers

Explore these promising Enterprising career options, and consider how you might combine them with a growth industry (see my previous post on finding careers in high growth industries). In part 5 of our series, Promising Careers 2011, we focus on careers compatible with Holland's Enterprising personality type.

While business, finance, and sales careers took big job loss hits in the last few years, you can see how much of a difference it makes to be in the right industry.

For example, real estate and banking have had massive layoffs and restructuring this recession.  But it's different story when you look at similar Enterprising careers in finance, business, management and sales jobs in growth industries like health care, technology, and the green economy.  No job is perfectly secure, but an aging population and the continued importance of energy makes managing projects and manipulating (in a positive way, right?) systems in these fields more promising.

To learn more about how to use this list and what "promising" means, please visit Part 1- our introduction and 4 Smart Strategies for Career Planning. We recommend starting with our valid career assessment that measures Holland's personality types, The Career Key test.  You'll also want to explore the careers for other personality types that fit you (see list at the post's end).

Promising Enterprising Careers by Career Key Work Group

Holland's Theory of Career Choice and a description of the Enterprising personality type:

Sales and Purchasing


Business Administration

Government and Public Administration

Regulations Enforcement

Legal Practice and Support


Other promising careers by Holland personality type in this series (there will be links when posted):

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Promising Careers 2011 Part 4: Social Services, Nursing and Education Careers

Are you interested in promising social careers, like different careers in social services, nursing and education? In part 4 of our Promising Careers series, we list careers that are compatible with Holland's Social personality type, linking them to career information from the U.S. Department of Labor.  Our series has one post for each Holland personality type.

For the introduction and 4 Smart Strategies for Career Planning, feel free to start with Part One of our Promising Careers series. It also has a description of what we consider to be a "promising" career.

When you click on each career, you'll see career information from the O*NET. But while they have good information about skills required and local job openings via CareerOneStop, I highly recommend you either click on the "Sources of Additional Information" at the bottom of each O*NET occupation page - the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) specifically, or visit the OOH separately to search for the occupations that interest you. The OOH has much better education and training information than the O*NET (see my previous post comparing the two). Using both sources is ideal.

If Social Services interests you, you might download this excellent new (September 2011) PDF from the Occupational Outlook Quarterly called "Helping Those in Need: Human Service Workers."

Promising Social Careers by Career Key Work Group

Holland's Theory of Career Choice and a description of the Social personality type

Social Services
Child, Family and School Social Workers
Emergency Management Specialists

Nursing, Therapy, & Health Promotion

Child and Adult Care

Education and Library Services

Sport, Recreation and Fitness

Explore other Holland personality types in this series (I will add links when they are posted):
Promising Realistic Careers
Promising Investigative Careers
Promising Artistic Careers
Promising Enterprising Careers
Promising Conventional Careers

Related Blog posts:
3 Creative Approaches to Gathering Career Option Information (using nursing as an example)
5 Ways to Channel your Inner Career Choice Optimist - Being Realistic but Optimistic
Job Outlook for Careers Matching the Social Holland Personality Type (2009)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Promising Careers 2011 Part 3: Art Careers

Are there promising art careers for Artistic personality types out there? You bet. In part 3 of our 6 part Promising Careers 2011 series, we list careers that are compatible with Holland's Artistic personality type. Visit part one for an introduction and tips for "how to use" this list.

Unsurprisingly, there are few Artistic jobs given a "bright outlook" by the U.S. Department of Labor. Maybe if you lived in Renaissance Florence, creating art would be considered a "growth industry," but in today's world, pursuing an Artistic career with a living wage requires - well - a little creativity.

Expand your career options: Combine your Artistic interests with other strong interests
One way to expand your Artistic career options in a creative way is to combine your Artistic interests with other strong interests you have.  For example, when you take The Career Key test, we recommend that you explore at least your two strongest personality types indicated by your test scores.  Make sure you read this short summary of Holland's Theory that explains the relationship between personality types and which ones are more compatible than others.

Common combinations of top two strongest types might be:
Artistic and Investigative
Artistic and Social

So we added a few Investigative and Social careers that can have a strong Artistic aspect to them. For a complete list of promising Investigative Careers, go to Part 2 of this series.  For Social Careers, I'll post that list later this week and link it up.

Combine Art with a Growth Industry
While they may not have a large number of job openings, you may be able to find your niche in growing industries like the sciences and healthcare.  Try combining:

Photography with the sciences: Scientific Photographer
Illustration with the Health Sciences and Medical Field: Medical and Scientific Illustrator
Graphic design with Computer Science: Video Game Designer

Last caveats:
  • A few of these careers did not meet the U.S. Department of Labor's "bright outlook" standards but have at least an average or above average rate of growth if data is available.
  • You can combine artistic interests with the commercial world in ways that you might not have thought of - and in ways that satisfy your values. Keep an open mind.  
  • Make sure to read the Occupational Outlook Handbook summary on Artists and related occupations.  It will be updated in late March 2012 (from 2010) but is still relevant now.
  • Self-employment is common in the arts. Learn more about Self-Employment here and whether self-employment might be right for you at the Self-Employment Key website.
Promising Artistic Careers by Career Key Work Group

Holland's Theory of Career Choice and a description of the Artistic personality type

Literary Arts
Technical Writers

Visual Arts
Graphic Designers
Landscape Architects
Multi-Media Artist or Animator
Scientific Photographers
Medical and Scientific Illustrators

Interpreters and Translators

Promising Social Careers with a strong Artistic aspect (SA)
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
Self-Enrichment Education Teachers
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education
Special Education Teachers, Preschool, Kindergarten, and Elementary School
Training and Development Specialists

Promising Investigative Careers with a strong Artistic aspect (IA)
Biochemists and Biophysicists
Video Game Designer;  learn more in "Work for Play: Careers in Video Game Development" in Occupational Outlook quarterly, September 2011 PDF article.

Explore other posts in this series (I will link to them as they are posted):
Promising Realistic Careers
Promising Investigative Careers
Promising Social Careers
Promising Enterprising Careers
Promising Conventional Careers

Related Blog Posts on Artistic Careers that might interest you:
Self-Employment and Artistic careers - including my grandfather's story as an artist (illustrator and sculptor)
Artistic Careers Job Outlook (2009)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why Maps (and related promising careers) Still Matter

As I was working on the blog's new Promising Careers list, I came across several map related occupations (see list below) and I admit thinking at the time - really? I love maps and nautical charts and prefer using them to GPS, but I admit I was a little skeptical about promising job outlooks for careers in geography and cartography.

Then this morning I heard this fascinating public radio program (KUOW Seattle): "The History and Adventures with Maps with Ken Jennings." (The podcast is free) It really made me think about maps' roles in history and where we are going now with Google Maps and technology. The program gives insight into why maps are still relevant today. Ken Jennings's infectious enthusiasm about maps makes for a great interview. If you liked the movie "National Treasure" and making history come alive, you'll enjoy it.

Promising Careers involving maps...
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists (Realistic Personality Type)
Mapping Technicians (Realistic)
Surveying and Mapping Technicians (Realistic)
Geographic Information Systems Technicians (Investigative)
Geospatial Information Scientists and Technologists (Investigative)
Geographers (Investigative)

Promising Realistic Careers
Promising Investigative Careers

For more tips on learning more about certain occupations, visit our website article, "Learn about Occupations."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Promising Careers 2011 Part 2: Investigative Careers that Fit Your Personality

Our Promising Careers 2011 list continues with the second Holland personality type, Investigative.  If you score high in the Investigative personality type using a valid Holland career test like The Career Key, then consider these promising careers that fit you.  You'll find careers in science, technology, engineering and math: a.k.a. "STEM" careers.

To catch the intro to this 6 part series, including what we consider a "promising career", 4 Smart Strategies for Career Planning, and how to use our career list, see Part 1: Promising 2011 Careers that Match Your Personality.

To explore the other Holland personality types, see Promising Realistic Careers, Promising Artistic Careers, Promising Social Careers, Promising Enterprising Careers, and Promising Conventional Careers. And to see lists by personality type of college majors and training programs, green jobs, career clusters and pathways, visit The Career Key website.

Make sure that when you click on each one below to see career information from U.S. Department of Labor's O*NET, go to the bottom of that O*NET page to see other recommended resources, like the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH).  Both O*NET and the OOH offer different career information so be sure to explore both.

Promising Investigative Careers by Career Key Work Group

Physical Sciences

Life Sciences

Health Sciences

Laboratory and Medical Technology

Computer Science & Technology

Mathematics and Data Analysis


Social Sciences

Monday, September 19, 2011

Promising 2011 Careers that Match Your Personality

This practical, promising 2011 careers list from career guidance leader Career Key shows you how to match your personality to living wage (or better) careers that make sense in today’s economy. Holland’s Theory of Career Choice is one of the most widely used and respected career choice theories used by professional career counselors.

This will be a 6-part series (all linked together at the end) - 1 post for each personality type.  Included are 4 Smart Career Planning Strategies to put it all in perspective.

It’s time for us to choose more promising careers….
Of the largest 10 occupations in the U.S., only one (registered nurses) had an average salary over $44,410. That’s the mean for all U.S. occupations. (BLS, 2010) When you consider what food costs and the money it takes to support a family, that’s a staggering number of people making very little money – many of them in so-called “growth” a.k.a “service-related” jobs like cashiers and fast food workers. It’s also consistent with the latest Census national poverty rate of 15%. 

While it's true accountants, engineers, nurses and practically any occupation in the sciences is the ticket to good job opportunities and wages, there are many other options, with a variety of education and training requirements.

What is a “promising” career? 
It’s a career that,

  • requires more training and education beyond a high school diploma*;
  • has decent projected future job openings – a “bright outlook” according to the U.S. Department of Labor;
  • exists in a growth industry or industries found nationwide**; and
  • provides a “living wage” job (one with which you could possibly support a family) (minimum median $30,000/year).

*99.9% of all living wage jobs require at least a high school diploma, but not necessarily a 4 year college degree. (If you disagree, send me stats that say otherwise)

**I excluded careers that I thought were too specialized or narrowly focused (like biofuels processing). Explore our Green Jobs article for more promising, specialized green and energy-related jobs.

Begin with 4 Smart Career Planning Strategies
  1. Take the right approach to work – the Free Agent Outlook.
  2. Take a practical, 3 step “end-game” approach to career planning. 
  3. Explore our promising career list below to help you decide on your career path. Find more resources at The Career Key website:  Match Your Personality to…  Careers, Green Jobs, College Majors and Training Programs, and Career Clusters and Pathways.
  4. As you consider your options, think about the costs and benefits.  Some careers require a big education investment (time, money) but prepare you for jobs that do not pay very much.  Consider the repayment of student loans.  Consider the industry in which you will be employed. Ask yourself:  Are there better paying, more promising options, in growing industries that fit your personality that you hadn’t considered before? Go back to our "Match Your Personality with..." Lists for more ideas.
How to use our promising careers list:
  1. Take our valid career test and career assessment to identify your Holland personality types you are most like, jobs that interest you, and learn more about each one;
  2. Explore our promising careers list, and identify careers you’d like to learn more about. Click on each one to visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET website description for that career. Don’t forget to click on links at the bottom of the O*NET page to (1) “Wages and Employment Trends” to get more local information relevant to you, and (2) “Sources of Additional Information”, which takes you to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The OOH gives you much better education and training information than O*NET (see my recent post about using O*NET vs. the OOH for researching career information).
  3. Do the activities listed in “Learn About Occupations” and “Learn More About the Jobs that Interest Me. Pay a lot of attention to your local situation – or the location you intend to work.  Talk to (ideally face to face) real people working in the careers that interest you before investing in any training or education program.
  4. Follow all 4 Smart Career Planning Strategies listed above.
Career Key's promising careers list by Holland personality type and Career Key work group...

Promising Realistic Careers
Safety and Law Enforcement


Construction Crafts and Support

Crafts – Mechanical

Crafts – Electrical-Electronic

Crafts – Metal, Wood, Plastic, Fabric

Manufacturing and Production

Promising Conventional Careers