When you are not sure of what type of job you want or what you want to do next with your career, a career aptitude test can help you narrow down your job choices and choose a career path that is compatible with your interests, skills, values, and personality.
Taking a career test is a little like playing "What do you want to be when you grow up?" with a twist. The twist is that career tests can give you concrete ideas about what you may be designed to do rather than just an opportunity to simply ponder what you want to do. It can help you understand the type and environment of work that will help you thrive as a person.
How a Career Test Can Help
There are a variety of free career tests and quizzes available addressing one or more of these factors, but it is not essential to find a test that captures all of the elements.
Do keep in mind that some tests aren't scientifically validated.
However, they are quick and easy to take and provide insight into what types of jobs you might want to research.
Spend some time taking a few tests and quizzes and see what results you get. Afterwards, compare the job options you're given to decide if any of them are worth exploring further through reading, informational interviews, job shadowing, and internships.
Free Career Aptitude Tests
The following tests are available for free online and can be a good start to identifying your next career.
123 Career Test: This popular aptitude test can help you gain insight into the careers that best fit your personality. It will help you learn what kind of work environments and occupations suit you best.
CareerOneStop Interest Assessment: Answer 30 quick questions online to get a list of careers that might be a good fit for your interests.
CareerOneStop Work Values Matcher: Answer questions about different aspects of a job or workplace to help you find your ideal work environment.
Test Color: With this test, a team of psychologists and human resources experts leads you through a two-part color selection process to determine your personality and aptitude. While the initial results are free, you can pay extra for a more in-depth analysis.
Keirsey Temperament Sorter: This test helps you to understand your personality type and discover what type of temperament you have. Test results suggest a predominant personality type, including Artisan, Guardian, Rational, or Idealist. Your temperament influences career satisfaction, job search strategies, and job performance. A free description of your profile will be provided with an option to purchase the full report.
Human Metrics: Using both Jung’s Typology and Myers-Briggs insights (see below), Human Metrics takes you through 64 questions to rate you on both scales. The results explain to you how each piece relates to your personality type.
O*NET Interests Profiler: My Next Move’s O*NET Interest Profiler is administered by the United States Department of Labor. Users take a 60-question interest inventory that yields a profile of interest tendencies, including six areas: Realistic, Investigative, Social, Enterprising, Conventional, and Artistic.
You will see a list of careers related to each cluster, and can then sort those careers into five job zones representing different levels of preparation ranging from little job preparation to extensive preparation. The site also has extensive career information related to a variety of careers.
PathSource: This free career exploration solution helps students and job seekers make better career choices with its free mobile app. Users can produce lists of careers based on personality characteristics and an interest profile. Lifestyle issues and income expectations are factored into the analysis. An extensive collection of 2,600 informational interviews on video provides an insider's view from workers in a broad range of professions.
A database of careers related to various academic majors helps students to explore the implications of their academic choices. Users also can search for colleges based on academic offerings, financial aid, average test scores, and other admissions data.
16 Personalities: Using the Myers-Briggs Model (hence the name), 16 Personalities is a site designed to help you understand yourself, contribute valuable data to researchers, and take tangible steps in your personal and professional relationships. While the test is completely free, most of the tools require that you join for a fee.
Red Bull Wingfinder: Take a free 35-minute online personality assessment to identify and leverage your strengths in four different areas of your personality, including connections, creativity, thinking, and drive. Wingfinder test takers immediately receive a free 19-page feedback report containing an analysis of their strengths, along with advice, and coaching from Red Bull athletes who have the same strengths.
Skills Matcher: The Department of Labor has developed this resource to enable users to assess the skills they want to incorporate into their careers. You will rate basic skills like reading, writing, speaking, scientific reasoning, and critical thinking, as well as more specialized social, technical, analytical, computer, problem-solving, and resource management skills.
Truity: Truity offers a variety of tests you can use to explore your personality career interests. There's a free short report on the results, and there's a fee to unlock the full report if you want more information.
CareerExplorer: CareerExplorer is a free platform for users to assess their interests, personality types, abilities, career values, and preferred work and social environments in order to find matches that will lead to satisfying careers. The assessment suggests careers after users respond to a series of questions. There's detailed information available on each of the suggested career options. In addition, users can browse occupations by clusters like health and nutrition, law, arts and entertainment, animals, food and drink, politics and law, sports, travel, music, engineering, and science.
More Career Assessments and Personality Tests
While some career aptitude tests are free, others charge for results.
Be sure to check before you start the test to see whether you are interested in paying for the advice.
Self-Directed Search (SDS): The Self-Directed Search (SDS) is a standard testing option that revolves around categorizing careers into six areas: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional. Answer questions about your goals, dreams, activities, and interests, and you'll get a list of the three types of careers that are best matched to you, plus careers that are suited to people with a mix of those characteristics. Keep in mind that you are required to pay a fee for this test.
Career Key: Another career aptitude test that costs a fee is Career Key. This online career assessment tool determines how similar you are to six different personality types. The results are linked to occupational choices.
Crystal Personality Test: Crystal provides free personality tests like Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, DISC, Core Value, and Job Fit, so you create a full personality profile to understand how to use your strengths, manage your blind spots, choose your ideal career. You can also view the personality profiles of your friends, colleagues, and customers.
JobQuiz: JobQuiz is a career aptitude test that you can do quickly (it only takes about 12 minutes). It gives you the opportunity to evaluate hundreds of career options to get ideas about what your perfect career would be. The site allows you to take all the tests but will not allow you to access your results until you’ve paid a fee. To get the results, the fee is $9.99 or $6.99 for students.
Online personality tests measure your intelligence or aptitude, inventory your skills, and assess your ability to succeed in a career. Some are as simple as selecting colors you like and don't like. With others, you'll need to answer a number of specific questions.
Personality tests can be useful for showing you what kind of career you might want. They also can show you what skills make you a strong candidate for a job.
Once you know your skills, you can highlight them on your resume and cover letters.
Some tests are free, while others cost money. Be sure to research the cost of a test before doing it. Some can be done online, while others require a career counselor to interpret them.
For example, the Typology Central Jung Personality Test is a free personality test that combines two systems for evaluating personality type—Jungian Cognitive Functions and Personality Dichotomies. After you take the test, you'll get a report that outlines your temperament.
Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most well-known, authoritative personality test available in the psychology and human resources community. It assesses your personality type and explores career options. If you're a college student or graduate, check to see if your career office offers no-cost testing. Otherwise, review these options for taking the assessment either online or in-person.
This test categorizes people into one of 16 different personality types. With a series of questions, the test determines whether you gravitate toward extroversion or introversion, sense or intuition, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving.
Here's a quick guide to understanding the four categories within the Myers-Briggs test:
- Extroversion (E) or Introversion (I): This is about how you get your energy. Do you turn inward or outward for sources of energy?
- Sense (S) or Intuition (N): Which one you gravitate toward reveals how you perceive and absorb information. People who get an S result are more likely to use past experience and common sense to evaluate situations, while the intuition-focused readily see the big picture and patterns.
- Thinking (T) or Feeling (F): With this personality trait, your decision-making style is revealed. Thinkers are guided by logic and common sense, while feelers may rely on values feelings. For feeling types, the decision-making process may be guided by how a decision would affect others.
- Judging (J) or Perceiving (P): This last piece of the personality type reveals lifestyle preferences, or how you like to live your life. Judging types are organized and comfortable working within rules and framework. You can count on someone of this type having a five-year plan. Perceiving types are more likely to prefer a flexible environment, adapting plans as needed.
Test questions reveal whether you are an ISTP (Introversion, Sense, Thinking, Perceiving) an ENFJ (Extroversion, Intuition, Feeling, Judging), or one of the 14 other possibilities.
Talent Assessment Tests
Talent assessments help predict a new hire’s performance and retention.
These tests assess your personality, work style, knowledge, and/or skills. These assessments often are given to job candidates either online or in the company store or office.
Talent assessments are only one of many different kinds of pre-employment tests that employers might give job candidates. Employers often use tests as part of a larger selection procedure to screen applicants for hire. Other types of tests employers might give candidates include personality tests, cognitive tests, emotional intelligence tests, physical exams, drug tests, credit checks, and background checks.
There also are tests for specific industries. For example, restaurants often test job candidates to see what they know about the industry. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most common personality test given by employers to job candidates.
Pre-employment tests are legal as long as employers do not use the test results to discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, or age. One exception is a lie detector test, which is unreliable and illegal in most employment situations.