Holland Codes

  • All jobs can be described by one or more of the six Holland Themes.
  • The themes work together to form a Holland Code. Holland Codes categorize people's interests.
  • You can learn what your top interest themes are by taking a formal interest assessment, such as the Strong Interest Inventory, Career Key or Self Directed Search.
  • You can also determine what you think your top three interest categories are--on your own--by reading about each of the six themes.
  • Virtually no one can be described as just one of the Holland Themes, so it is important that you identify your top three. A career counselor can help you with this.

Dr. John Holland, Ph.D., a vocational/career development researcher, identified these six categories of career interests and environments. In his theory, Dr. Holland believes that a person's satisfaction and potential for work-related success can be tied to how compatible his or her work environment and duties are with his or her career interests.

The very general indicators of people, things, data, and ideas are distributed across the six categories, according to the type(s) of work often done within each.

The Holland Themes

Realistic (R) - People who have high interest in the Realistic theme like hands-on tasks that are practical and mechanical. They prefer working with things, such as tools, machines, vehicles, animals, and/or plants. Outdoor activities, athletics, protective services, and military are common interests of people who score high in the Realistic theme. Examples of Realistic jobs are police officer, firefighter, construction worker, farmer, and automotive mechanic.

Investigative (I) - People who have high interest in the Investigative theme like working with ideas and data, involving science, problem solving, intellectual pursuits, engineering, technology, and math. They may enjoy reading, inventing, researching, analyzing data, and using computers. Examples of Investigative jobs are chemist, investigator, physician, and architect.

Artistic (A) - People who have high interest in the Artistic theme focus primarily on ideas. They like to create and express their through painting, dance, music, poetry, and other forms of art. Appreciation of color and beauty, uniqueness, and unstructured environments are qualities often found in Artistic individuals. Examples of Artistic jobs include, designers, writers, musicians, sculptors, and actors.

Social (S) - People who have high interest in the Social theme prefer to work with people. They want to help individuals and society through healthcare, social services, education, and other avenues. Personal interests may involve spending time with family and friends and volunteering. Nurses, teachers, social workers, counselors, coaches, and daycare workers are examples of Social jobs.

Enterprising (E) - People who have high interest in the Enterprising theme prefer to work with people and data. They focus on business or organizational leadership, image creation and maintenance, ambition, and pursuading others. Enterprising individuals are often interested in entrepreneurship, public speaking, politics, law, and business management. Examples of Enterprising jobs include, CEO's, principals, attorneys, politicians, and public relations directors.

Conventional (C) - People who have high interest in the Conventional theme prefer to provide support to business and organizations by working with data, being organized, following and enforcing rules, and assuring quality. They are detail-oriented individuals who enjoy crunching numbers, running data, and performing clerical duties. Examples of Conventional jobs are administrative assistants, accountants, bank tellers, license examiners, and medical records clerks.

Learn more about John Holland's theory
Career Key - Holland's Theory of Career Choice