Finding or Switching Your Career? Check Out These Free Assessment Tools

Posted on September 8, 2022 at 6:30 am

By Stacey Goddard

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Just about everyone is asked this question countless times when they’re young.

When I was a child, I always had a ready answer, and I spent a lot of time playacting as a child. One month I wanted to be a doctor, so I wore a white coat (one of my dad’s old shirts) and prescribed pills (candy) to my brother. The next month being a firefighter seemed like the best job ever as I used the garden hose to put out imaginary fires in the backyard (and flooded mom’s flower beds, oops). Over the years, I pretended to be an astronaut, a veterinarian, a chef, and more.

But as I grew older, I started to realize what it took to be a doctor (more math than I would have guessed) and firefighter (so much heavy gear to carry), so I thought about other possible careers. After taking a couple years of Spanish in high school, being a translator seemed pretty cool. Or maybe I could be a writer because English was my favorite subject in school and I loved writing papers.

A career aptitude test that I took my senior year of high school wasn’t much help because it said I was best suited to become a florist. A florist!? That was a very specific result I hadn’t ever considered and didn’t account for the flooding of my mom’s flower beds.

So, I did what a lot of my friends did after graduation: I signed up for college classes and hoped I’d figure it out as I went. But my story doesn’t have to be your story!

Fortunately, career assessments have come a long way over the past 35+ years. Today, career assessments are designed to help you find the sweet spot (overlapping spot in a Venn diagram) where the following meet up:

Digital Resource Icon

Our Digital Library has resources with a variety of assessments that you can try out from the comfort of your own home at no cost with your library card.


A great place to start assessing your career options is JobNow.

Once you’ve logged in with your library card, you can click on Career Assessments in the righthand Career column. On the Career Assessments web page, you’ll see a variety of options.

JobNow Career Assessment web page
JobNow’s Career Assessment web page

I recommend starting with the first assessment tool listed: O*NET Interest Profiler. O*NET stands for Occupational Information Network and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.

O*NET Interest Profiler is a treasure trove of information on hundreds of occupations, which you can browse based on your interests and goals. You have the option to take assessments online or print PDF versions to take offline.

As you explore your assessment results, you can find detailed information on education requirements, employment outlook, salaries, and more for occupations you are interested in pursuing.

Peterson’s Test and Career Prep

Peterson’s Test and Career Prep also has a career assessment tool. Once you’ve logged in with your library card, click on the green Explore Careers section to expand the section below it. Then, scroll down and click on Career Tools to take you to the next web page with multiple tools.

Click on Find a Career for the assessment tool.

Peterson's Test and Career Prep website: Career Tools web page
Career Tools web page on Peterson’s Test and Career Prep website

If you aren’t yet logged in to your Gale account, the next web page asks you to log in. If you don’t yet have a Gale account (it’s free!), you can create one by clicking New User Signup under the Login button. The good thing about having an account is that your assessment results are automatically saved so you can come back at a later time to explore the different career examples.

Once you’re logged in, you should be at the start of the assessment, which will measure your interests and values. If logging in took you to a different web page, just follow the steps above to click on Find a Career to get to the assessment.

Peterson's Test and Career Prep web site: Start Assessment web page
The Start Assessment web page on Peterson’s Test and Career Prep web site

This assessment uses the R-I-A-S-E-C (realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, conventional) method to identify your primary and supporting interests and to suggest career examples based on your results.

For example, you can see from my results below that my primary interest is Social, which suggests I would do well in jobs that directly help people. Examples of careers for that primary interest include Professor and Medical Assistant.

Completed Interest Assessment example from Peterson's Test and Career Prep website
Completed Interest Assessment example from Peterson’s Test and Career Prep website

The R-I-A-S-E-C method is also referred to as Holland’s Occupational Themes or the Holland Codes. These themes are based on theories developed by American psychologist John L. Holland in the late 1950s.

In a nutshell, Holland and others theorized that an individual’s interest levels in working with things, people, data, and ideas, coupled with their distinct personality traits would sort them into one of the following six themes:

  • Realistic – Doers (working with things)
  • Investigative – Thinkers (working with things and ideas)
  • Artistic – Creators (working with people and ideas)
  • Social – Helpers (working with people)
  • Enterprising – Persuaders (working with people and data)
  • Conventional – Organizers (working with data)

There are four assessments in all, covering your interests, values, personality, and workplace preferences. After you’ve completed the assessments, you can explore career matches that are ranked based on the strength of their match to your assessment results.


Another good resource for assessments is CareerOneStop. This website is provided by the state of Minnesota, though anyone can use it, and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.

CareerOneStop website
CareerOneStop home page

You can get even more detail about the various types of assessments as well as what self-assessments can help you do on this website.

Another thing I like about the site is that it includes resources for a wide variety of jobseeker situations, such as wanting to change careers, needing to work from home, or transitioning from military service to the civilian workforce.


And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention at least a couple of the great books the library has for finding a career you love!

What Color is Your Parachute, by Richard N. Bolles, is a classic for a reason! In addition to advice and examples of what makes a great resume and cover letter, Bolles includes a self-inventory—based on your passions, skills, and more—to help you design your dream career.

Do What You Are, by Paul D. Tieger, explores the connection between personality type and career satisfaction. This books helps you learn how to identify your personality type and recognize your work-related strengths and weaknesses.

In Take the Leap: Change Your Career, Change Your Life, author Sara Bliss interviews dozens of individuals who have decided to make career changes, some more extreme (like the financial advisor who became a comic book writer!) than others. Each person shares the challenges they faced and the sacrifices they made once they decided to pursue their passion.

Good Work: How to Build a Career that Makes a Difference in the World, by Shannon Houde, describes itself as “part career guide and part job search help—and all purpose driven.” So, if you’d like to feel like you’re making a difference with the work you do, this book is a great place to start!

Book cover: Becoming an Ethical Hacker, Masters at Work series

If you’re looking for a deeper dive on a specific career interest, the Masters at Work series is worth exploring. In addition to more traditional careers like architect, teacher, and veterinarian, the series includes books on becoming an ethical hacker, life coach, sommelier, and venture capitalist. Each book details what it’s like to work in that particular field, education that’s required, as well as the challenges and rewards of the career.

Book a Librarian

I wish I could say I had an “ah-ha!” moment right after I started college and realized I wanted to be a librarian—but that’s not what happened. Instead, it took me quite a while to discover that the part-time library job I started before my senior year of high school had accidentally set me on my career path. But I eventually got there!

If you’re thinking about a career change or trying to figure out your first career, remember the library can help with more than digital resources and books.

When you schedule a Book-a-Librarian appointment, you can get one-on-one help if you are stuck in your career and job search, if you would like help navigating career assessment tools, or if you have other career questions. We’re here to help you!

Stacey Goddard

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