Holland codes are a way of classifying people according to their interests so that they can be matched with appropriate careers. The system was developed by Dr. John L. Holland, an academic psychologist. His theory is also known as the RIASEC system.

Dr. Holland's theory proposes that there are six broad areas into which all careers can be classified. These same six areas can be used to describe people, their personalities and interests. For instance, Building careers are those that involve working with tools or machinery (e.g. carpenter, mechanic, or airline pilot). People with Building interests are typically practical types who like working with their hands and creating a tangible product.

To find the ideal career for an individual, the individual's interest level in the six areas must first be determined; then, those interest scores can be used to find matching careers.

The 6 Interest Areas

Each of the 6 interest areas describes a broad field of similar work tasks and activities. Interest areas are also descriptive of people: their values, motivations, and preferences. For each interest area, there is a collection of typical job tasks, as well as a description of the type of person who would be interested in doing those sorts of tasks.

Most professional career advisors are familiar with the system of Holland codes or RIASEC. RIASEC is an acronym for Holland's original 6 types. Because the names of Holland's 6 types may not be obvious to non-professionals, we use a slightly different terminology which is more self-explanatory.

Interest Area

Holland Code

About this Area

Interest Area
Holland Code

Building

Realistic

Building jobs involve the use of tools, machines, or physical skill. Builders like working with their hands and bodies, working with plants and animals, and working outdoors.

Interest Area
Holland Code

Thinking

Investigative

Thinking jobs involve theory, research, and intellectual inquiry. Thinkers like working with ideas and concepts, and enjoy science, technology, and academia.

Interest Area
Holland Code

Creating

Artistic

Creating jobs involve art, design, language, and self-expression. Creators like working in unstructured environments and producing something unique.

Interest Area
Holland Code

Helping

Social

Helping jobs involve assisting, teaching, coaching, and serving other people. Helpers like working in cooperative environments to improve the lives of others.

Interest Area
Holland Code

Persuading

Enterprising

Persuading jobs involve leading, motivating, and influencing others. Persuaders like working in positions of power to make decisions and carry out projects.

Interest Area
Holland Code

Organizing

Conventional

Organizing jobs involve managing data, information, and processes. Organizers like to work in structured environments to complete tasks with precision and accuracy.

How to Find Careers Using Holland Codes

The easiest way to use Holland codes in your career planning is to take a career interest inventory. Career interest tests work by determining your specific profile of interests and then matching that profile with potential careers.

Most interest inventories will ask you to rate your interest in a variety of activities, such as "build a stone wall" or "counsel a patient with a drug addiction." Your interest level in each area is then calculated by summing up all your ratings for the appropriate activities. Once your interest profile has been determined, that profile is used to select careers that are a match for your interests.

If you already know your Holland code, you can use our free career search tool. If you don't know your Holland code, we recommend taking a comprehensive Holland code inventory.