ASVAB Test: Your Secret Weapon for Finding a Job You Love? (Counselor Buddy!)

There are some days when I’m sitting here in my office when I didn’t sleep enough the night before and my coffee has worn off and I feel like I could actually fall asleep sitting totally upright in my chair if I just tip my head back…and then I realize I haven’t made my post here on GMS yet, and it’s like a dagger in my soul. Especially when I don’t have a good topic lined up. No nap for me!

And then I remember…Counselor Buddy! The Robin to my Batman! Robin C-Buddy emails me lists of good stuff to write about, and today I’ll be leaning on those lists because of that whole coffee-and-sleep situation above.

Today, a hellaciously unique piece of advice that I’m almost sure you haven’t heard before. If you’re not absolutely lockdown certain what you want to be when you grow up (and even if you are, you’re probably wrong), then Counselor Buddy suggests — the ASVAB?

Should I take the ASVAB? SIR, YES, SIR!

For those who are unsure what they want to do post-secondary,
the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) offers an
exceptional career assessment piece.

Oh? You mean that test I should only take if I’m thinking about joining the military or want recruiters to start calling me?

Students often believe that they should only take the ASVAB if they are thinking about joining the military or believe if they take the ASVAB then recruiters will start calling them.

Oh…gotcha. That’s the one.

Recruiters are allowed by law to receive all names and phone numbers of juniors, so they will be calling regardless of whether you take the ASVAB or not.

Will they ever! I remember how many times they called me in high school, and we weren’t even at war or stretched thing troop-wise the way we are now.

However, when I think of the ASVAB test today, I think about it as something that really only serves a purpose if you’re going to join the military. But I think I’m about to be shown the error of my ways.

The ASVAB has sections that test more than academic ability; it also measures mechanical comprehension, electronic information, among others.

Ah, that’s right. Upon further research: General, Mechanical, Administrative and Electrical sections.

I remember that well from high school, actually, now that you mention it, because I remember the mechanical, electronics and spatial-relations parts of that test being hard for me, because I was a complete bookworm and not a hands-on guy at all.

When students receive their ASVAB scores, they are also given a code to use online at the ASVAB site which offers a comprehensive career assessment using the 16 career clusters.  It’s one of the better tools I’ve seen for students to see what they would be capable of, or have some natural ability in, based on how they scored on the test.  The career assessment is created and designed specifically for each student, based on their ASVAB results. The code to access their data online is available for a set amount of time (I think the code is good for one year?).

You know, I’d forgotten all about this. Well, not the online part, that part didn’t exist when I was in high school, but I remember getting a pretty decent little summary of jobs I might be good at. And I don’t remember laughing at it or ridiculing it, so it must’ve been halfway decent, because a good part of my high school life was spent ridiculing and laughing at things I didn’t understand or thought were stupid.

And I remember also being impressed that it did a decent job picking careers for me, since my skill set was miles away from anything you’d normally associate with the military (I liked reading and writing, basically, and I wasn’t skilled at anything mechanical, scientific, etc.).

Remember, too, that even if you’re not going straight into a career right now (military or otherwise) and you’re going straight to college, you still have to choose a career, and presumably you’ll choose an academic major based on that projected career.

So, if you’ve got any lingering doubt whatsoever as to what you want to do with your life, give it a shot. There are a lot of careers out there that even the most informed students have never even heard of (I’m still discovering a lot that I haven’t heard of myself, actually), and you might like what you find.

Anyone out there taken the ASVAB? Are you required to take it? (I was, but I was a military brat at a military school, so I don’t know the M.O. for all you civilian students.) If you’re interested in not only taking but actually studying for it, here are some ASVAB practice tests from that should get you in ship-shape for it.

Has it given you some good options for careers that you think you might like? Let us know in the comments below.

14 thoughts on “ASVAB Test: Your Secret Weapon for Finding a Job You Love? (Counselor Buddy!)”

  1. I might be wrong, but I don’t think it’s possible for civilians to take the actual test online to try to see “what our aptitude is”.

    The only thing I’ve found online are “practice tests” which don’t show the careers you may be most suited for. I think you have to talk to a recruiter and be a junior in HS in order to take it though…

    Feel free to point out where I’m wrong though, ’cause I would love to test my mettle (and see how well this bookworm can do on the other sections :P).

  2. Chris Steines

    I went to a public high school, and we had to take it (I never knew that recruiters automatically got juniors’ names!)

    I was quite indecisive for a while about what major to use, and the ASVAB really wasn’t that helpful in making up my mind. For me, the MBTI and speaking with a career counselor was much more useful

  3. I’m currently in the Army Reserve and the ASVAB definitely helped me out in my military career. I was in JROTC in high school so they gave us all the information needed to sign up for it. It wasn’t required and there were only about 15 students taking it and about 8 of them were in JROTC with military careers in mind already. I remember getting the highest score out of all the other cadets and they told me I would be a rocket scientist haha. The ASVAB structure is similar to tests like the SAT’s. You get a test book and a scantron to bubble in your answers. When my ASVAB results came in, just like Counselor Buddy said, it gave me a code to use online to see what fits me best. The ASVAB gives you a total score out of 99 and it gives you ten composite scores: stuff like General Technical, Electronics, Combat Operations, Mechanical Maintenance, etc. (For those interested in the military – these composite scores determine which jobs are eligible to you, not the total score) I think the ASVAB is very helpful in determining one’s skills (I sucked bad at the automotive part). However, the main reason I took the ASVAB was for the army so I gave the recruiters my score and they gave me all my eligible jobs. Luckily, I scored high enough to get the job I wanted (which is high on General Technical and Skilled Technical) so the ASVAB was extremely useful for me.

  4. Counselor Buddy

    I think it’s important to remember it’s testing your knowledge and abilities, it’s not an interest inventory. So, it’s giving you career areas that you have skill or ability in and it’s up to you to see how those career options fit your personality. It’s a good, solid piece to career exploration if you’re still weeding through your options.

    We offer it every fall to juniors and seniors and it’s optional. I’m guessing if you walk into the recruiter to take it, they are going to expect some interest from you to join the military. When it’s taken at the school, that pressure is not there.

  5. A very nice article indeed but let me remind the reading audience a couple of points that are implicit that you need to be aware of explicitly:
    1. You will need to see a military recruiter to take the ASVAB(unless it’s offered at your school). He or she’s job is to recruit you into the military so keep that in mind.

    2. It is not quite true that the military recruiters automatically have access to your contact information without recourse. Your parent does have the option of opting their child out of their information being released to military recruiters. Some schools have gone so far to encourage this option.

    Other than that I recommend taking the ASVAB wholeheartedly. As the writer has noted, it measures a number of areas that will tell you what your strengths and weaknesses are. Very good tool to tell you what you’re really excel at.

  6. Counselor Buddy

    That’s a great point, Mark. Parents can opt to remove their child’s information from the list; however, in the last 5 years we have not had a parent request to do so. That may be quite different in other schools. I don’t want a student of mine to avoid the test if they are interested in the career component simply because they do not want a recruiter to call. Chance are, they will be calling regardless because of the mandatory information we provide them each year.

  7. I took the asvab but only because I wanted to join the marine corps. My recruiter gave me a list of jobs that I had never considered. Though I scored high enough for the one job I wanted I didn’t get it for security reasons. my options were things such as building radios, architect, air traffic controller, and warehouse! I know I scored high enough for bettr jobs but he didn’t mention them to me because they didn’t need people for those. If your lucky enough to look at their books and compare it to your score then the asvab is worth it.

  8. Just wondering, I remember doing a test in high school careers class that told you your strengths and weaknesses and showed you possibly jobs you may enjoy based on your strengths… is there anything like that on the internet that can be taken? Ive looked, but nothing really looks legit.

  9. On the flip side of the coin, I took the ASVAB in high school (just a few years ago) because, despite wanting to have nothing to do with the military, I thought it would be a useful career tool. It didn’t really end up telling me anything I didn’t already know, honestly. Maybe if someone really had no clue what they wanted to do, it could be useful, but I thought it was a waste of time in that respect.

    Also, I hadn’t known beforehand the scope of the test– despite this, I got a pretty high score, including in things like the electrical section, which I’d completely guessed on. Unfortunately, this backfired on me. My Armed Forces Qualification Test score (I had to look it up to remember what it was called) was in the 98th percentile. Which would have been great, if the military was something I was interested in. As it was, recruiters began calling non-stop and would persist even after my parents and I had asked them to stop calling and repeatedly told them I wasn’t interested in the military.

    Upon mentioning this to other friends who hadn’t taken the ASVAB, I found that they hadn’t had this problem. Perhaps the recruiters were more aggressive because we were in a Navy town, but I’d be careful about taking it if you aren’t considering a military career. I’m willing to bet there are much more useful tests out there that come without the hassle.

  10. I took the military’s assessment test in 2000. I was at a loss as to what to do with myself–even though I am not just coming out of high school or college. The test is free and there is nothing to stop someone from keeping it to refer back to over the years when discussing options with guidance counselors. There may not be any great answers and maybe everything helps. I spent the summer doing basic training for the Reserves. Trying to raise children and being single caused problems with childcare; and so I was forced to either join the Regular Force full-time or drop out.

    However, what I do remember is that the military is a great way to get education paid for when so many people are debt laden after college–BEFORE their lives have even started.

    I am not pro military. But one thing they have going for them is a complete package when it comes to benefits that is worth a lot some who may not realize it is there. There are things like 24 hour counseling for someone who needs and requests it. Their healthcare is probably 2nd to none. And as I suggested when I started, having one’s education paid for by one’s employer is something not many are offering these days. Did I mention the opportunity for travel? I met several people who had made a lifetime career and had developed businesses along the way for their retirement! I was truly impressed. Of course, by the time I saw that, I was already in my late 40’s. Not only can one look to the Armed Forces for ideas, a friend pointed out to me that he is just retiring from the RCMP. It would appear that most of you who read this site are looking a host of ideas.

    As an older student who is starting all over… As a parent who actively interacts with her children to help them as they choose…

    Recently my daughter took another type of test offered (for free) by the Church of Scientology. She is 20 and just wanted to know what happened to someone who is curious about their teachings. She said that the test was 2 hours. Afterwards, she was amazed by the accuracy and the insight given to her over the things pointed out during that conversation. It did not suggest what she should do. It merely showed her how she is influenced by things going on around her when trying to focus on her goals. She has not heard more from them and has not gone back; but she is grateful for the conversation.

  11. just wanted to make a quick note. Yes, recruiters are automatically allowed access to the names and phone numbers of students but NOT IF the parent(s) of the student specifically state IN WRITING to the principal or superintendant of the school their child is attending that they want their child’s information kept from the list. At least that’s the way it is here.

    (Sorry for the caps. I wanted to emphasize, but there was no option for italicize. Not trying to “yell” at anyone there.)

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