Interests vs. Aptitudes
Interests are the result of what you do, what you learn, and whom you know.
Choosing a career based solely on interest can be an inefficient way to make a decision that impacts your entire life. Interests change greatly from year to year as your knowledge and experiences change. You might be well suited for a certain career path that you don’t currently have an interest in, simply because you don’t have enough exposure to or knowledge of it. You might have heard of careers like “marine biologist” or “industrial engineer,” but how can you know if you’ll enjoy and thrive on one of those career paths?
Aptitudes are the result of inheritance and early development.
Aptitudes are not changeable like interests can be; our research has shown that aptitudes (as measured by the proprietary assessments we administer exclusively through our organization) stabilize at around age fourteen, and remain relatively stable for the rest of a person’s life. Aptitudes are unrelated to what you know or have learned. Our testing program can provide you with an objective source of information about your natural strengths. This type of self-knowledge can make educational and career planning more precise and effective. It’s a short cut to knowing what qualities will and will not make a career a good match for you.
Interests can be influenced by outside factors.
A person may not be interested in financial management because, for example, an acquaintance has that particular job and is dissatisfied or frustrated. Someone else might be interested in being a journalist because of a writer father. Dreams of becoming a mechanic can come from a favorite uncle who collects vintage cars. An interest in old cars or writing or finance could be guided by aptitudes into related directions more suited to natural abilities.
Aptitudes are innate abilities.
Dreaming of being a doctor or being the child of a surgeon does not mean you will have the necessary abilities to be a successful and satisfied physician. Identifying your natural strengths is a way to find out which careers are appropriate for you as an individual, regardless of any other factors.
If you have a strong interest in a particular career or occupation, that is something to consider. Your aptitude test results might be able to indicate which aspect to explore that would best suit you. Being a doctor is not the only role in the field of medicine, just as working in a classroom is not the only way of teaching.
We do administer an interest survey, the Self-Directed Search, as part of our testing program. We use it as a way to gain some insight into our client’s present way of thinking about his or her future. We are often able to relate an interest to a career suggested by their pattern of aptitudes, and we are careful to emphasize the important differences between what his or her interests are and what their aptitudes are.
Exploring what your interests are and what types of careers match them is one way of making education and work choices. Additionally, being able to identify specifically why you are interested or uninterested in a career can be helpful in determining whether or not that career is appropriate for you. Aptitude testing is a very effective tool for educational and career selection, in that it provides an unbiased, factual representation of how you think and work.