The simplest approach that’s widely used to help people identify their career building blocks is the RIASEC inventory
. It asks questions to help you figure out which of these six career building blocks are dominant for you:
- Realistic: Working hands-on, with tools, animals, in sports, etc.
- Investigative: working with ideas. You’re analytical, logical.
- Artistic: Being creative, unstructured, feeling-centered.
- Social: Working with people. You’re friendly, empathic.
- Entrepreneurial: Translating ideas into profitable action. You like to take charge and are good at influencing people.
- Conventional: Efficient, organized, thorough. You follow rules.
The RIASEC typology has helped many people, in part because lists of careers have been created for each of the six categories, for example THIS.
That said, I've created a moderately different six-category typology that my clients have found somewhat more helpful. The first letter of each comprise the acronym WITPAD. For each of the six WITPAD categories, I list a few sample careers that many people find satisfying and in which the job market is at least decent.
Of course, few careers fit purely into one of the six categories; there’s always overlap. But identifying your preferred one or two categories may help you home in on a well-suited career.
- Words: written and/or oral, fact-centric or feeling-centric. Sample careers: proposal writer, community college instructor, corporate or non-profit trainer.
- Information. This can be qualitative and/or quantitative, including diagnosing problems. Sample careers: Estate attorney, program evaluator, computer programmer/software engineer, system administrator and health care careers that meld information and people skills, for example these that I consider particularly worthy of consideration: optometrist, audiologist, orthodontist, physician assistant, genetic counselor and veterinarian.
- Things. You make or fix things, large- or small scale, in wood, metal, plastic, or silicon. Or work with animals. Sample careers: dentist, handyperson, industrial equipment technician.
- People. Divide this category further: Will you likely work best with a particular type of person: adult or child, disabled or normal, man or woman, high- or low- achievers, etc.? Also decide if you’d be better persuading, helping, connecting, or being a teammate. Sample careers: development director (fundraising manager,) health care advocate, human resources manager, school psychologist, education administrator, teacher of the gifted, speech-language therapist, tutor, and coach (career, money, dating, life, and/or wellness.)
- Art. You make it or judge it. Sample careers: hair stylist, graphic designer with a good business sense, landscape designer.
- Details. You enjoy getting things just right. Sample careers: forensic accountant, surgical technologist, court reporter, statistician.
Which of the six WITPAD categories feel most like you? Which ranks second? Does that suggest a career for you? Or does it offer a clue as to how you might do your current work differently?
Marty Nemko was named “The Bay Area’s Best Career Coach” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian and he enjoys a 96 percent client-satisfaction rate. In addition to the articles here on PsychologyToday.com, many more of Marty Nemko's writings are archived on www.martynemko.com. Of his seven books, the most relevant to readers of this blog is How to Do Life: What They Didn’t Teach You in School. Marty Nemko's bio is on Wikipedia.