By Nathan Page Ph.D.

What are the components of Holland’s RIASEC theory?

John L. Holland’s theory of career choice is based on the concept of person vs. occupational fit.  It’s foundation is the congruence, or fit, between the career interests of people and the attributes of occupational environments.  People are most satisfied in vocations that match their pattern of interests.  High alignment between the person and the vocation results in vocational stability, career satisfaction, and high achievement.

Holland’s theory identifies six types in which both people and jobs can be classified.  These types reflect distinct patterns of interests and people are relatively consistent within a type throughout their career.  These six types and their defining characteristics include:


  • Expresses interests and solves problems by DOING.
  • See themselves as practical and mechanical and enjoy:
    • Physical or technical tasks and working with machines, tools, plants, or animals
    • Building or repairing things and working outdoors
  • Personality characteristics: dependable, tangible thinker, mechanical, and practical
  • Values: Independent mindedness, frankness, physical activity, common sense, and  tradition


  • Expresses interests and solves problems by THINKING.
  • See themselves as intellectual and precise and enjoy:
    • Working with ideas, data, and observable facts
    • Analyzing and solving problems, conducting research, and working with math or science
  • Personality characteristics: analytical, self-starter, persistent, goal-oriented, and curious
  • Values: logic, intellectual freedom, creative processes, evidence-based decisions, science


  • Expresses interests and solves problems by CREATING.
  • See themselves as expressive and original and enjoy:
    • Working in unstructured situations in writing, designing, performing, visualizing
    • Trusts intuition in creating music, sculpture, art, or innovative approaches
  • Personality characteristics: creative, adaptable, independent, unconventional,
  • Values: nonconformity, artistic expression, unstructured situations, creative processes


  • Expresses interests and solves problems by HELPING.
  • See themselves as helpful and empathetic and enjoy:
    • Working in helping people and solving social problems
    • Instructing, advising, training, counseling, mentoring, and caring for others
  • Personality characteristics: cooperative, empathetic, sociable, diplomatic, verbally fluent
  • Values: sense of community, altruism, concern for others, open communication, relationships


  • Expresses interests and solves problems by PERSUADING.
  • See themselves as ambitious and influential and enjoy:
    • Working with persuading, selling, directing, or influencing others
    • Involvement in sales, political campaigns, starting or managing a business
  • Personality characteristics: goal-oriented, competitive, energetic, assertive, persuasive
  • Values: success, status, selling ideas, risk taking, competition, making decisions


  • Expresses interests and solves problems by ORGANIZING.
  • See themselves as orderly and following plans and enjoy:
    • Working with details or data, following procedures, and implementing rules
    • Involvement in structured situations, organizing, assuring consistency and quality
  • Personality characteristics: self-control, dependability, detail orientation, rule following
  • Values: efficiency, consistency, traditional approaches, accuracy, stability

The CLII identifies an individual’s alignment with each of these occupational themes.  This, in turn, helps individuals envision how they fit with the world of work.

More Blogs

The Power of Interests
Why assess Career Interests?
Why Finding a Career that Matches Your Interests is Important