Career Occupational Preference System

Career Occupational Preference SystemThe Career Occupational Preference System (COPSystem) is a coordinated career guidance program consisting of three assessment instruments all keyed to eight major career clusters. The three assessment components are the COPSystem Interest Inventory (COPS), the Career Ability Placement Survey (CAPS), and the Career Orientation Placement and Evaluation Survey (COPES) and their accompanying interpretive materials. Interpretation of the three assessments is organized around an easy to use group of eight occupational clusters representing all possible jobs in the world of work. The COPSystem measures interests, abilities, and values in terms of these eight major career clusters: science, technology, outdoor, business, clerical, communication, arts, and services with five of the eight cluster results representing both professional and skilled-level occupations for a total of 14 clusters. The COPSystem assessments are designed to assist individuals in the career exploration and decision-making process.

The COPS consists of 168 job activity items, and examinees respond to these items according to their degree of like or dislike for each item based on a 4-point scale from like very much to dislike very much. The norms are based on samples of high school and college students throughout the United States and are updated every 2 to 5 years. The COPS is a valid and reliable instrument. Alpha reliability coefficients range from .86 to .92, and validity has been established through a long-term study demonstrating that 64% of students were in a job or college major that matched one of their three highest interest areas from 1 to 7 years after taking the COPS.

The CAPS consists of a battery of eight 5-minute ability tests that provide a comparatively brief and cost-effective measure of ability for career development. The eight ability tests in the CAPS are Mechanical Reasoning, Spatial Relations, Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Ability, Language Usage, Word Knowledge, Perceptual Speed and Accuracy, and Manual Speed and Dexterity. The CAPS scores are reported based on three norm groups; grade levels 8-9, 10-12, and college. Examinees receive scores for abilities as compared to each of the 14 career clusters reported on the COPS, demonstrating areas of strength and weakness in terms of ability. The CAPS test-retest reliability coefficients range from .70 to .95 and predictive validity studies show that ability scores are significantly related to subsequent career choice.

The COPES is a measure of personal values that reflect major dimensions representing vocational motivation based on the following scales: Investigative Versus Accepting, Practical Versus Carefree, Independence Versus Conformity, Leadership Versus Supportive, Orderliness Versus Flexibility, Recognition Versus Privacy, Aesthetic Versus Realistic, and Social Versus Reserved. Each dimension is measured by two-choice, paired comparison items, and scores are reported for each values scale as well as related to the COPSystem career clusters. The reliabilities range from .70 to .83, and a preliminary follow-up study found an 89% hit rate for work values matched to subsequent career or college major choice.

The benefit of the COPSystem assessment program is that the three most key components of choosing a career are combined on a single profile allowing the examinee to consider a complete profile and make an informed decision on how to move forward in the career exploration process.


  • Knapp, R., Knapp, L, & Knapp-Lee, L. (1985). Occupational interest measurement and subsequent career decisions: A predictive follow-up of the COPSystem Interest Inventory. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 32, 348-354.