Job Search Tips

The 3 best career aptitude tests to guarantee success

Written by Michael Hoon

Is it better to be merciful or just? This is one of the many questions you can ponder if you fall down the rabbit hole of internet aptitude tests—and you can also find out which career would best suit you in the wizarding world of Harry Potter. (Mine was Daily Prophet journalist!) Whatever you do, don’t pay for an online aptitude test. You can’t buy “guaranteed success” for the cost of $49.95, and there are plenty of free, simple career aptitude tests out there that will allow you to explore various options.

Before you start, you might want to define what “success” looks like for you. Try to think beyond salary or how others might define success. The aptitude tests are a way of examining your skills and interests and extrapolating how your underlying talents can lead to a more rewarding career—not necessarily the highest paying job. We chose the following tests because, unlike many out there, they do not require you to create an account or sign up with your email. They all take 10 minutes or less, stick to career-related questions (rather than delving into psychologically-probing questions), and supply you with targeted career information to explore further at the end.

The O*NET Interest Profiler

The O*NET Interest Profiler, developed by the U.S. Department of Labor, is the way to go if you are looking for a simple and fast test. It has you rate 60 different occupational activities based on what tasks you would find rewarding. It then scores your interests across six broad categories and allows you to sort jobs by the amount of preparation you would need.

So, if you are artistic and want a job that also requires a degree in higher education you might choose “architect.” While all this seems fairly basic, the ability to click backward and forward makes it easy to explore and refine jobs by type and educational requirements. This culminates in a comprehensive page for each specific job that lists day-to-day activities, knowledge, skills, tech abilities, education, and even the personality traits that suit this particular job type.

But perhaps the best part is how these pages incorporate data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If by chance you want to be a musical composer, you will learn that you will fare much better in Hawaii than in Maryland. You can find out the average salary by zip code, and even click through to a job bank of current job openings in your area. No need to register your email or sign in—just explore.

Skills Matcher

Skills Matcher, also developed by the U.S. Department of Labor, takes a bit longer and has a different angle. It has you assess your own skill level for a variety of workplace situations. For example, you can assess your skills in biology on a range from the ability to “Care for a Pet” to “Identify a New Virus.” Rather than rating your interest level, it has you rate your aptitude and past experience for doing various activities. Some of the questions require some abstract thinking, where you determine if you have done a similar task within your own work history.

At the end of the 40 questions, you get a lengthy list of potential jobs that match your skills. Click on any one and you get an employment outlook, wages in your area, and the experience and certification required, as well as the activities, knowledge, skills, and abilities relevant for this job. Because its focus is more about your skills, this test also provides links to find local training opportunities, apprenticeships, certifications, and occupational licensing details for each job type in your area. In other words, it helps you explore the next practical steps in moving toward a career goal.

123 Career Test

123 Career Test operates on a similar principle to the O*NET Interest Profiler—but with pictures. You’ll be presented with a set of pictures featuring four different jobs. For each set, you will click on the one cartoon image you don’t like and the one you do. With a total of 15 questions, this test is relatively quick and easy and probably works better for visual learners. It defines the personality types used in the testing methodology, which provides a peek at the science behind the test.

In the end, you’ll receive occupations suited for you, with a percentage match. You can click on the occupations that interest you to find a list of knowledge and skills that provide a window into the day-to-day job tasks. So if you’re into the idea of being a “storyboard presenter” who draws out scenes for motion pictures, you would also gain insight into the nuts and bolts of the job: You have to be able to adapt to different types of media, consult with producers, and familiarize yourself with copyright legislation. As with the other two tests, there is no need to sign up or register—just dive in and explore.

About the author

Michael Hoon