Careers and Education Programs

Want an overview of how CKD displays careers and programs of study to discoverers? Go to the Discovery Process Step-By-Step > Discover Options.

Time to Complete

3 minutes


The next important step discoverers take after completing the assessment is to explore and choose from lists of careers or education programs that match their personality. This section gives more detail about how and why we organize options into groups, and how we decided what options to include.


  • Understand how CK organizes or classifies careers and programs into groups
  • Learn how CK developed and updates its lists of careers and programs
  • Learn what data sources CK uses and how often they are updated

Classification of Careers and Programs

Career Key classifies or organizes careers (occupations) and programs of study first by Holland personality type and then by smaller groups called work groups.  Work groups are based on worker traits, interests, temperament, skills and abilities.

Depending on how you’ve configured your CKD plug in, your discoverers may see careers and programs of study, or only one set of these. See How to Install a CKD Plug In.

Best of both worlds: interests and worker traits

We designed this unique classification system to capture the best features of two major, research-based systems for organizing occupations: (a) John Holland’s interest-based system, and (b) the U.S. Employment Security System’s worker trait-based system in the Guide to Occupational Exploration.

CK’s combined system enables discoverers to relate their Holland personality types to groups of occupations where the workers’ traits are similar in interests, aptitudes, temperament, skills, and abilities.

Similarly, discoverers can relate their personality type to groups of education programs containing students and professors with similar traits.  For more about CK’s classification methodology for programs of study, please see the Career Key Manual.


This system for organizing occupations and programs has several advantages:

  • It is based on Holland’s Theory, with significant research supporting its key concepts.
  • It is based on the expert work of job analysts at the U.S. Department of Labor and Career Key.
  • Occupations are grouped according to the easily understood concept of work groups, as compared to two- or three-letter codes used by other Holland-based systems.  For example, see “Literary Arts” as a group of occupations with Holland code “ASE” (Artistic-Social-Enterprising).
  • It enables discoverers to explore a wider range of options, including those less familiar in the rapidly changing worlds of work and education.

Keep in Mind

This classification was done with great care. As with other classification systems, judgments are made when sometimes the system does not perfectly fit an occupation or program. Discoverers should be advised of this and encouraged to freely explore their top two personality types, or three types in the case of close scores. Read the next section, Advise Discoverers for more recommendations.

Occupation examples: An environmental scientist could fit equally well in the Physical or Life Sciences work group (Investigative); some occupations like accountant can cut across more than one RIASEC personality type (Enterprising or Conventional) depending on job duties.

Program examples: “Environmental Sciences” could fit equally well in the Physical or Life Sciences work group (Investigative); interdisciplinary and Liberal Arts majors or programs frequently cut across more than one RIASEC personality type.

Careers and Programs Listed in CKD


CK includes a variety of careers (occupations) within each work group. In developing and continuing to update our list on an annual basis, we consider a variety of factors for each occupation:

  • Education required
  • Job openings
  • Job outlook
  • Number of people working in it
  • “Living wage” standards

Given the wide range of how CK is used with youth and adults who need a variety of career pathways to success, we maintain a balance of occupations requiring different levels of education.

CK’s list of occupations also changes depending on the country (or locale) in which CKD is offered and the organization’s settings for CKD’s display to discoverers.

Education Programs

CK’s classification of education programs is based on the U.S. Department of Education’s Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP). See Data Sources below.  This includes college majors, programs of study, training programs, apprenticeships, and any degree or certificate program offered by an accredited U.S. higher education institution.

CK includes a variety of programs within each work group. In developing our list, we exclude some instructional programs based on relevance for most users and generality of the subject. For example, programs related to citizenship, interpersonal skills and self-improvement are not included in CK’s program list.

CK’s list of programs also changes depending on the country (or locale) in which CKD is offered and the organization’s settings for CKD’s display to discoverers. Please see Customizing CKD in Getting Started for more information.

Data Sources and Updates


CK relies on the most recent data published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. This data is updated annually in CKD.


U.S. Department of Education’s National Center of Education Statistics last released the CIP data in 2010 through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). It is scheduled for update again in 2020. The U.S. and Canada share this classification system as part of cooperative trade agreements.

Program offerings, such as those offered by a particular higher education institution, are updated from IPEDS annually each summer. The most recent data available comes from the previous academic year.

Next: Advise Discoverers


Discovery Process Step-by-Step > Discover Options