What Are The Occupational Scales?

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In our last few blog posts, we covered the General Occupational Themes and the Basic Interest Scales. In this post, we will share some of the history behind the creation of the Occupational Scales (OSs). 

Origins of the Occupational Scales

The history of the Strong Interest Inventory® assessment comes from its original form which focused on specific occupations, created by E.K. Strong. Broadly speaking, the goal was to match users with certain occupations. The scales were built by having working individuals who were satisfied with their job complete a long list of questions. The researchers would then determine which questions helped identify individuals most interested in that job. 

For example, Strong would have a group of machinists complete the questionnaire and find the questions where machinists most often indicated a high level of interest.  Strong numerically combined the identified questions into a scale for a machinist. This task was applied to all of the jobs listed. The results would describe that someone “answered like a machinist”, which indicated that they may want to consider that job as a possible occupation option for them. 

Occupational Scales Interpretation

Interpretation of the Strong assessment in relation to the Occupational Scales was somewhat difficult. Users would receive a list of occupations they matched on. To make interpretations more generalizable, counselors or career coaches would expand the measured jobs into other jobs. For example, say you were matched with General Physician as an occupation. This would then be extrapolated to a surgeon, nurse, or veterinarian. 



However, when you used the U.S. government’s Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), which at the time included over 13,000 jobs, the extrapolation process was daunting and largely based on face validity. This lead to a lot of the initial criticisms of the occupational sales. 

The need for greater specificity lead to the creation of more generalized topics. The Holland Codes were grouped into the General Occupational Themes (GOTs) and Homogeneous Scales were grouped into Basic Interest Scales.

Updated Occupational Scales Interpretation 

Last updated in 2010, the Strong assessment maintained the history of the Occupational Scales and their construction. The addition of the General Occupational Themes (GOTs) and Basic Interest Scales (BISs) also made interpreting the Strong assessment easier. You could examine an individual’s theme code or explore through Basic Interest Scales. However, there is still some criticism with the updated scale. 

We still have some limitations of listing all other jobs that are similar to your generated potential career path. But the “flow” for these generalizations are made easier by looking at OSs in relation to GOTs (RIASEC codes) and how those may connect to other jobs. Below is a diagram at how an OS might connect to a specific Basic Interest Scale. 



Occupational Scales Interpretation with SuperStrong

Previous versions of the Strong assessment used two steps to explore occupations by:

  • Using calculated OS scales
  • Relying on expert judgment and interpretation skills to extrapolate to other jobs

The newest version of the Strong assessment, called the SuperStrong® assessment (available through the VitaNavis® platform), greatly simplifies this process by using the BISs as a connector to the O*NET SOC (Occupational Information Network Standard Occupational Classification) codes. By using this method, we limit the necessity to explore all the possible jobs through the lens of an interpreter. The interpretation is relatively simple:

  • Individuals with a high interest in the Basic Interest Scale “Law” are aligned with the O*NET hierarchy of legal occupations 
  • The jobs displayed will be valid and aligned with one’s interests

Importance of the Occupational Scales to the SuperStrong assessment

The Occupational Scales represent one major diversion from the tradition of the Strong assessment. With the SuperStrong assessment, we use the Basic Interest Scales as a link to jobs, rather than measuring a narrow set of jobs. By doing this, we can connect individuals to an industry standard of job measurement and open up the exploration of hundreds of more jobs. The explorative connections used by the SuperStrong assessment are based on a type of exploration used in previous versions of the Strong assessment. Thus, if it was part of the previous interpretation process, it seems reasonable that its application here is valid. 

Remember: understanding your interests and how they connect to the world is a process, not an event. Regardless if you use the Strong assessment or the SuperStrong assessment, the results do not predict what you should pursue as a particular career. They simply show that you share interests with others in certain careers that you may want to consider as potential career path opportunities for yourself. 

What Are The Occupational Scales?

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