Holland Code

Holland Code


John Holland (1919-2008), a psychologist and a professor at John Hopkins University, recognized an association of individual personalities compared to career choices. The theory is entitled the Holland Occupational Themes or RIASEC. Holland’s codes are used by the US Department of Labor, recognizing their association with professions and personality types.

The Holland Occupational Themes (RIASEC) are based in six interest areas. Holland Code

  • Realistic
  • Investigative
  • Artistic
  • Social
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional


Realistic are the Doers of the Holland Occupational Theme. They are “people who are independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty, no-nonsense, down-to-earth individuals, physical, athletic, or mechanical. They prefer “things rather than ideas or people being outdoors, using tools, operating machines, interacting with animals, and working with their hands. They also value the “natural, concrete, and tangible” (Wikipedia.com, Holland Codes).

Some examples of associated realistic careers are nurses, carpenter, engineer, environment science, firefighter and dentist.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you practical?
  • Are you athletic?
  • Are you a nature lover?
  • Can you fix electrical or mechanical things?
  • Can you operate machinery?
  • Do you like to work with machines?
  • Do you like to work outdoors?
  • Do you like to work with your hands?


Investigative are the Thinkers of the Holland Occupational Theme. “People who are intellectual, introspective, inquisitive, curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. They prefer tasks that are scholarly, scientific, technical, or medical, activities that involve thought, observation, investigation, exploration, and discovery. They like to solve problems, perform experiments, and conduct research” (Wikipedia.com, Holland Codes).

Some examples of associated investigative careers are actuary, chemist, pharmacist, physics, surgeon, mathematician and nutritionist.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you precise?
  • Are you scientific?
  • Are you observant?
  • Can you solve math problems?
  • Can you use a microscope?
  • Can you do lab experiments?
  • Do you like to explore ideas?
  • Do you like to use computers?
  • Do you like to work by yourself?

Artistic are the Creators of the Holland Occupational Theme. “People who are creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, expressive, unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative, who rely on feelings, imagination, inspiration and who are spontaneous and open-minded. They prefer to work with ideas, abstractions, and concepts. They also enjoy work that is literary, verbal, visual, and aesthetic and excel in art, music, dance, drawing, painting, sculpting, drafting, writing, drama, communicating, design, fashion” (Wikipedia.com, Holland Codes).

Some examples of associated artistic careers are architect, graphic designer, psychologist, teacher, dance, fashion design and model.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you creative?
  • Are you imaginative?
  • Can you sketch, draw or paint?
  • Can you sing or dance?
  • Can you write stories?
  • Do you like to attend the theater?
  • Do you like to read fiction?
  • Do you like to be creative?

Social are the Helpers of the Holland Occupational Theme. “People who are kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly. They prefer tasks that involve socializing, helping others, and teaching, teamwork, social interaction, relationship building, humanitarian, educational, philanthropic, interpersonal, and service-oriented” (Wikipedia.com, Holland Codes).

Some examples of associated social careers are lawyer, counselor, social worker, human resources, clergy, veterinarian and tutor.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you friendly?
  • Are you helpful?
  • Are you understanding?
  • Can you teach others?
  • Can you settle arguments?
  • Can you cooperate with others?
  • Do you like to work in groups?
  • Do you like to help people?
  • Do you like to play team sports?


Enterprising are the Persuaders of the Holland Occupational Theme. “People who are adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, optimistic, dominant, persuasive, and motivational. They prefer work that involves leadership, business, politics, public speaking, being in charge, taking risks, debating, and competing” (Wikipedia.com, Holland Codes).

Some examples of associated enterprising careers are entrepreneur, chef, fundraising, relator, clergy, college faculty and management.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you enthusiastic?
  • Are you full of energy?
  • Are you self-confident?
  • Can you sell things or ideas?
  • Can you lead a group?
  • Can you organize activities?
  • Do you like to make decisions?
  • Do you like to be a leader?
  • Do you like to start a business?


Conventional are the Organizers of the Holland Occupational Theme. “People who are conscientious and conservative, logical, efficient, orderly, organized, thorough, and detail-oriented. They are individuals who value precision and accuracy. They excel in practical tasks, quantitative measurements, and structured environments and who follow the rules. They prefer work that involves accounting, statistics, mathematics, numerical activities, and office settings” (Wikipedia.com, Holland Codes).

Some examples of associated conventional careers are finance, statistician, accountant, web developer, technical writer, economics and math teacher.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you well-organized?
  • Are you accurate?
  • Are you efficient?
  • Can you use a computer?
  • Can you write letters?
  • Can you see mistakes in reports?
  • Do you like to work with numbers?
  • Do you like to see details?
  • Do you like to correct mistakes?


A Holland Code is then comprised of three of these options. For instance, if Georgette were to have a code of SAE (Social, Artistic, Enterprising), it would indicate that her strengths was Social. Next strongest code would be Artistic and lastly, Enterprising. By looking up her code with associated professions, Georgette would find that she would be best suited for: recreation work, teacher (except special education), clergy, social worker, among others.

The Strong Interest Inventory is a valid and reliable testing tool which will aid in a more detailed look. It needs to be administered by a certified professional.


Tracy Harrington AtkinsonBy Tracy Atkinson

Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband and spirited long-haired miniature dachshunds. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is teaching, researching, studying and enjoying time with her family. She has published several titles, including MBTI Learning Styles: A Practical Approach.  Courses available on learning styles and student success at: Udemy, Teachable or Thinkific.

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the mid-west with her husband. She loved storytelling and sharing her stories with her children. As they grew, she started writing her stories down for them. She is a teacher, having taught from elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education, masters in higher education and continued on to a PhD in curriculum design. Her husband, Kerry and Tracy breed miniature dachshunds and love to spend time with their growing family. She has published several books including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Rachel's 8 and Securing Your Tent.

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