Career Barriers Inventory

Career barriers have been hypothesized to affect the career development process by inhibiting career aspirations and restricting the range of perceived career opportunities. The Career Barriers Inventory (CBI) is a psychometrically sound, multidimensional, self-report instrument that was developed to assess for career-related barriers. The CBI assesses for a broad array of barriers that college students may perceive. Furthermore, significant gender and racial/ethnic group differences in the perceptions of barriers have been found in the Career Barriers Inventory-Revised (CBI-R).

The original form of the CBI was developed by Jane Swanson and David Tokar to examine a broad realm of barriers that may influence career-related activities. The CBI included 102 items developed to address different types of barriers that may transpire across a range of career-related activities, such as career decision making, college-to-work transition, job performance, work-related discrimination, and work-family balance. The CBI consisted of 18 separate scales. Internal consistency estimates in a sample of college students ranged from 0.53 (Overqualified for Job Market) to 0.94 (Sex Discrimination). Items for each scale were highly correlated with their respective scales and moderately correlated with one another (r = 0.11 to 0.68), providing evidence for convergent and discriminant validity.

The original CBI was modified in order to reexamine and redefine the scales, reduce the number of items, clarify item content, and delete overlapping items. The shortened version, the CBI-R, is comprised of 70 items on 13 separate scales that cover a wide range of barriers that college students may perceive. Scales are highly correlated between both versions of the CBI, ranging from 0.72 to 1.00. The 13 scales on the CBI-R include (1) Sex Discrimination, (2) Lack of Confidence, (3) Multiple Role Conflict, (4) Conflict Between Children and Career Demands, (5) Racial Discrimination, (6) Inadequate Preparation, (7) Disapproval by Significant Others, (8) Decision-Making Difficulties, (9) Dissatisfaction With Career, (10) Discouraged From Choose Nontraditional Careers, (11) Disability/Health Concerns, (12) Job Market Constraints, and (13) Difficulties With Networking/ Socialization. Each scale consists of three to eight items. Internal consistency estimates in samples of college students ranged from 0.64 (Disapproval by Significant Other, Difficulties With Networking/ Socialization) to 0.86 (Sex Discrimination). Inter-correlations among the CBI-R scales vary considerably from 0.27 (Disapproval by Significant Others and Disability/Health Concerns) to 0.80 (Racial Discrimination and Sex Discrimination). Gender differences were found on the CBI-R with women scoring higher on Sex Discrimination, Lack of Confidence, Multiple-Role Conflict, Conflict Between Children and Career Demands, Inadequate Preparation, Decision-Making Difficulties, and Dissatisfaction With Career. Individuals from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds scored significantly higher on Racial Discrimination than their Caucasian counterparts.


  1. Swanson, J. L., Daniels, K. K., & Tokar, D. M. (1996). Assessing perceptions of career-related barriers: The Career Barriers Inventory. Journal of Career Assessment, 4, 219-244.
  2. Swanson, J. L., & Tokar, D. M. (1991). Development and initial validation of the Career Barriers Inventory. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 39, 344-361.

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