How Career Tests Work

Career Test Accuracy

Career tests have their critics. One common complaint is that they're overly vague and don't offer any meaningful information about the subject being tested. In addition, the results are usually self-evident. Research has shown that the majority of students achieve their best grades in the classes in which they had the most interest [source: Athanasou]. It doesn't necessarily require a test for people to determine what they're good at and what they enjoy doing.

Another problem with career tests is that factors aside from aptitude and enjoyment play a huge role in people's career decisions. Occupational researchers have found that, when competing factors come into play, potential employees tend to throw personal interests out the window. Why? Higher salary, a better work environment, preferable co-workers or simple job security [source: Athanasou].

Anecdotally, this writer took several career tests while writing this article. Suggestions included agricultural engineer and account auditor, neither of which seem remotely accurate -- but may indicate strong mathematical and analytical aptitude.

Ultimately, career tests shouldn't be used to define a person or limit their choices. Instead, they can be used as helpful guides that get people to consider new options and alternative careers, or explore abilities they didn't know they had.

Related Articles


  • Athanasou, James A. "The Intersection of Vocational Interests with Employment and Course Enrollments." Australian Journal of Career Development, Vol. 18, No.1; Autumn 2009.
  • "ASVAB Scored and Military Jobs." (Sept. 13, 2010),,ASVAB_MOS.html
  • Myers & Briggs Foundation. "Type Use in the Professions." (Sept. 13, 2010)