Do I Need To Take A Career Test Before Choosing My Life Path?

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox
Updated October 16, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Without taking a career test, an individual might be more likely to try several jobs before settling on a career path. While this strategy can work for some, others might find that they would prefer more guidance and insights at the beginning of the process to help them decide. In other words, you don’t need to take a career test, but it could be helpful.

It’s also worth noting that the wrong career choice could eventually cause stress, confusion, or feelings of being trapped. A career assessment test can't guarantee that you'll find your dream job, but it can give you a better understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, and personality as they relate to various career opportunities.

Narrowing Down Your Career Choices Can Be Overwhelming

What Is A Career Test?

A career test may take the form of a paper or digital quiz that asks you questions to help determine potential careers that might fit your personality, interests, experience, and education. You may take the test at a career counseling center or online. 

These tests are often multiple choice and are designed to measure aspects of personality, which means there are typically no "right” or “wrong" answers. After taking the test, a career specialist may discuss your results with you. If you take it online, you might have your career test results emailed to you, and you may choose to discuss them with a counselor or coach after the fact. 

What Type Of Career Test Should I Take?

If you go to a career counseling center, you might not have a choice in which type of test you take. Many organizations utilize their own testing materials and scoring criteria. If you take a career quiz through a career counselor or other professional, they might suggest a specific type that they feel could be most helpful to you. A free online career test may allow you to choose which type of test you want, but the results might not be as in-depth or well-matched to you. Some of the career-test types available are listed below, from career aptitude tests to career personality tests and more.

Career Aptitude Test

Career aptitude tests can measure your skills, interests, professional style, and values. These tests may have sections on math, language, spatial relations, or problem-solving. The raw score of a career aptitude test is often compared to the abilities required for different career paths, and your final results may reflect your best skills and suggest the type of work environment your combination of skills might be suitable for. One example is the Holland Code Career Test, which can be taken for free online.

Career Personality Test

A career personality test can help determine your personality type and show you what kind of career might match your specific set of strengths. One of the most popular personality tests is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). This test reveals your tendencies across four categories—whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, judging or perceiving, intuitive or sensing, and thinking or feeling—which will be quantified in one of sixteen personality types. The explanation for each type comes with a set of careers in which you might find success along with recommendations on what your preferred work environment may be.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test isn’t the only personality test out there, though. Many career counseling centers, universities, and websites have their own form of assessments that measure personality traits and relate them to careers. You might find short-form and long-form career personality tests that target varying personality traits, or you could try more than one career test to get a more comprehensive report and then compare the results to your interests and skills. 

Career Interest Test

In a career interest test, you’ll choose different activities, items, or ideas based on your interests. You may be given choices between two to four different jobs or activities. A career interest test can allow you to compare and see trends within your overall interest. 

General Career Placement Test

A general career placement test often combines other types of tests, or elements of them. It will usually have several sections that measure your compatibility with various careers, including your interests, work personality, aptitude, and experience. This type of career test helps you see the bigger picture and will usually give you a list of careers to consider.

Career Tests Based On Age Or Educational Level

Other career tests may be based on your position in life. These might include:

If you're in any of these situations, you might ask your school counselor or HR professional if any career tests are available for you to take. 

Should I Take More Than One Career Test?

Some people choose a general career-finder test and won’t take others unless they feel the results are dissatisfying or inconclusive. Others may take more than one test to get the most accurate results. Taking many tests and getting varying results might make it harder to narrow down your options, but you could miss possibilities if you take only one. Visiting a career counseling center or counselor may help you decide.

Narrowing Down Your Career Choices Can Be Overwhelming

Are Career Tests Expensive?

Some career tests are costly. However, you can often find free career tests at a high school counselor's office, a college placement center, or through an online source. Some online tests may be free but require payment for full results. In other cases, the results are free, but you may have to sign up for a newsletter or a free service or be enrolled in a university to take the test. Personality tests and similar, more general assessments are often completely free online.

What Should I Do After Taking The Test?

Once you've taken a career or personality test, you may review the results on your own or with a career counselor. In some cases, the test proctor or organization that administered your test, if applicable, will work with you to understand the results. They may also offer career guidance or advice for your future job hunt, such as how to conduct yourself in future interviews or put together a strong resume. If you take a career test on your own, the advice below could help you decide on next steps.

Consider The Results

Start by looking at the results. If you don't understand what they mean or how they might apply to you, you may decide to talk to a career counselor or do more research for clarification. Next, think about the careers suggested by the results. How do you feel about each of them? Which of the careers seems like it could be right for you? If you feel comfortable with a few options, consider making a pros and cons chart to narrow it down to your preferred choice. You may also want to look at the results of your peers, especially those who have similar interests to you. Their average scores on these tests and the most common career choices could help you make decisions about what work options to look into. 

What If I Don't Like The Results?

If you don’t like the idea of starting any of the careers listed in your results, it might mean that they’re not the correct fit for your interests. However, consider giving the results a chance and researching the career paths offered before you make up your mind. If they still seem like something you wouldn’t be interested in or do well at, you could consider taking another type of test or speaking with a counselor for career advice. Remember, it may take time to find a suitable career for you. Exploring the various possibilities available to you before choosing a course of action can be a helpful part of the process.

Seeking Counseling For Career Testing 

Meeting with a mental health counselor or therapist may also be beneficial as you search for a new career. They may be able to help you interpret the results of any career quiz you may have taken and explore any challenges in choosing a career path. Additionally, they might help you identify areas of your life that may be holding you back from getting a job, discover your strengths, or build your professional self-esteem and confidence. Plus, since research suggests that remaining undecided after a significant time researching potential careers can contribute to anxiety, a therapist may be able to help you address any symptoms like these that you may be experiencing as a result of your search.

If you have a busy schedule or are looking for support you can get at home, you might consider online counseling. Research suggests that online therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy in many situations. With a platform like BetterHelp, you can choose whether to connect with a licensed provider via phone call, video call, and/or in-app messaging.

Takeaway

Taking a career test could help you learn more about the potential careers you might be well-suited for. You can find these tests online or through a career counseling center or professional contact. If you want support and guidance in interpreting your results and discussing any concerns, you might consider reaching out to a professional career counselor and/or a licensed mental health care provider. 

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The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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