RIASEC theory

Career Aptitude Theory

When people choose a profession that specifically suits their personality, they will generally be more successful and satisfied. This is the main presumption of most career aptitude tests. 

Many career aptitude tests, including our own free test, are based on the RIASEC model by American psychologist John Holland. RIASEC is an acronym consisting of the first letters of the following six personality traits: REALISTIC, INVESTIGATIVE, ARTISTIC, SOCIAL, ENTERPRISING and CONVENTIONAL. According to Holland, one can classify every person and every profession according to the RIASEC theory. For example, if you’re someone who scores high in the SOCIAL category, it’s recommended that you find a job in healthcare or education. In practice, however, most people have a preference for two or three personality traits. Not to mention, most professions score high on two or three traits.

riasec model

The six personality traits from the RIASEC model


Realistic people prefer to manual labour and enjoy operating devices or vehicles. Many realistic professions involve outdoor work, work with animals and require one to get their hands dirty. A realistic profession is the opposite of an office job where you sit inside all day. Common hobbies of realistic people are gardening, having pets, tinkering with cars or other vehicles and outdoor sports such as mountain biking and running. Sectors that include many realistic professions include agriculture, construction, manufacturing, distribution and transport and shipping and aviation. Keywords: physical, outdoors, hands, on the road, machines and equipment, animals.


Investigative people are inquisitive, analytical and like to learn. Investigative professions require one to carefully analyse the tasks at hand. Many investigative professionals are an expert in their particular field and solve problems through research and analysis. Typical hobbies of investigative people include intellectual sports such as Sudoku and chess, learning different languages or following additional courses just for the fun of it. One will encounter many investigative professions in academic education, IT, healthcare and innovative companies. Keywords: analytical, inquisitive, gaining knowledge, continuous learning, specialist.


Artistic people are creative and original by nature. Artistic professions often involve design and expression. Artistic or creative professions require one to view the world from a new, unique perspective. This may be by means of images and language, but also ideas themselves. Typical artistic hobbies include painting, photography, writing, cooking, crafts, design and visiting museums. One will encounter a relatively large number of artistic professions in advertising, the music industry, theatre, the art sector and at companies in the field of design. Keywords: artistic, original, creative, design, expression.


People who score highly in the social category enjoy assisting others or teaching. Many social professions require intense collaboration with others or learning new information together. Social people will generally have a preference for hobbies such as team sports, volunteering and eating out with friends. Many social professions can be found in the government, education, health care and social services. Keywords: contact, helpful, service-oriented, social, understanding, empathetic, teaching.


As the word suggests, enterprising people like to take the initiative, are willing to take risks and are natural leaders. Enterprising professions often require one to make many (important) decisions, direct and persuade people and take responsibility for the tasks at hand. Enterprising people will have a preference for hobbies such as investing, training and coaching at a sports club, political side activities and other administrative work. Enterprising professions can mainly be found in management, marketing, trade, administration and politics. Keywords: convincing, final responsibility, directing people, taking financial risks.


Conventional people are often perfectionists who prefer to work in a structured manner and according to set agreements. Conventional professions often require work to be carried out in accordance with a set pattern or rules. In addition, the work can be routine or process-based. Conventional people will have a preference for hobbies that involve collecting things or researching a family tree, for example. Conventional professions are very common in the banking world, companies that are involved in the management and maintenance of real estate, administrative companies, the financial sector, government and branch organisations. Keywords: organising, administrative, reliable, accurate, legal, regulating, process-based, procedural.

what type am i

RIASEC coding of a person

Naturally, you can use the RIASEC model to analyse yourself. What are your preferences? What are your hobbies? What kind of work interests you? What do you excel at? What do you enjoy? Answers to these questions provide more information on your position in the RIASEC model of career choice. For example, do you enjoy helping others (at school, in the neighbourhood, at the sports club, family)? Then you’ll probably score high in the SOCIAL category. Do you enjoy beautiful design, crafts, photographs and drawing? Then you’re probably an ARTISTIC type.


RIASEC coding of a profession

Every profession can be classified using a RIASEC code. For instance, a general practitioner is highly inquisitive (scores highly in the INVESTIGATIVE category) and people-oriented (scores highly in the SOCIAL category). A GP wants to help others and reassure them. Moreover, the fact that a GP occasionally uses special equipment and has a somewhat practical approach, makes it possible to classify him/her as a REALISTIC person as well. However, this personality trait is less prominent for this type of profession than the SOCIAL and INVESTIGATIVE categories. As you can see, the RIASEC model allows you to categorise any type of profession.

Career Choice Profiles

Many professions can be typified by two personality traits. If you combine every personality trait from the RIASEC model with a different personality trait, you end up with a total of 15 career choice profiles. For example, a photographer is compatible with the categories ARTISTIC and REALISTIC. Professions such as furniture maker or goldsmith also fall within these combined categories. Curious about all the other career choice profiles? Including professions such as gardener, general practitioner, mediator or detective? Feel free to check out our complete overview of all career choice profiles.