Career Maturity Inventory

Career MaturityThe Career Maturity Inventory (CMI) is a 50-item standardized measure designed to assess the process of how adolescents and adults approach career development tasks. John Crites developed this measure in the 1960s as the Vocational Development Inventory to assess the readiness attitudes of students in making appropriate vocational plans. It became the CMI in 1973 and was enhanced to include career planning competencies, including knowledge of self and the world of work. The CMI was revised in 1978 and most recently in 1995. Potential uses of the CMI include researching career development, needs assessment, career counseling, and program evaluation. Counselors may supplement interpretations by using an additional guide, the Career Developer, to explain correct answers.

Crites’s conceptualization of career maturity is based on Donald Super’s theory of career development, which emphasizes general factors related to realistic career choice content and process. Based on longitudinal analyses, items were selected to differentiate adolescents across a developmental continuum toward higher levels of career maturity. Higher CMI scores identify individuals with mature career decision-making approaches resulting in readiness to make informed career plans.

Consistent with Crites’s model of career maturity, the original CMI assessed five competencies (self-appraisal, occupational information, goal selection, planning, and problem solving) and five attitudes (decisiveness, involvement, independence, orientation, and compromise). The 1995 CMI collapsed these into broader dimensions measuring competence, attitudes, and career maturity total because the previous more specific scales yielded low reliabilities that were not readily incorporated into counseling practice. Clients respond to statements drawn equally from each of the original scales to address each construct. The original CMI used a true or false item format, whereas the current version uses an agree or disagree format. A sample Attitudes item, “I seldom think about the job I want to enter,” reflects one’s involvement in the process. The competencies section comprises 25 statements in which respondents appraise the appropriateness of content reflected in brief narratives.

Over 3 decades of research, including 2,000-plus investigations, have shown that CMI scores increase throughout adolescence and as the result of interventions. However, the individualistic nature of career maturity has raised questions regarding cross-cultural validity and counseling utility. For example, Asian Americans who typically represent a collectivistic orientation tend to score lower on the CMI because of their more interdependent decisional style. Although extensively researched, ongoing attention to examining psychometric qualities of the revised CMI is warranted.

Recently, the concept of career maturity has been expanded and termed career adaptability to encompass adult career concerns. In their 1995 revision, Crites and Mark Savickas sought to strengthen its practical relevance, to update standardization samples, and to minimize cultural bias in item content. Several items were modified or deleted to increase applicability with postsecondary clients. In addition, they shortened administration time, increased content relevance to adults, collapsed the subscales into broader dimensions, produced a companion guide to enhance counseling applications, and improved scoring options. Although some research has been conducted on the revised CMI, concern about the internal consistency of scales persists. Nonetheless, the rich empirical and theoretical foundations of the CMI warrant continued use in counseling and research.


  1. Busacca, L. A., & Taber, B. J. (2002). The Career Maturity Inventory—Revised: A preliminary psychometric investigation. Journal of Career Assessment, 10, 441—155.
  2. Crites, J. O., & Savickas, M. L. (1996). Revision of the Career Maturity Inventory. Journal of Career Assessment, 4, 131-138.
  3. McDivitt, J. (2002). Review of the Career Maturity Inventory. In J. T. Kapes & E. A. Whitfield (Eds.), A counselor’s guide to career assessment instruments (4th ed., pp. 336-342). Alexandria, VA: National Career Development Association.
  4. Savickas, M. L. (2000). Assessing career decision making. In C. E. Watkins, Jr., & V. L. Campbell (Eds.), Testing and assessment in counseling practice (2nd ed., pp. 429—477). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.