This article focuses on the question: which aspects of a learning environment, aimed at fostering career learning, correspond with the development of career competencies among university students in the Netherlands? A questionnaire-based study was carried out among 4820 students and 371 career counsellors in 11 universities. Four career competencies were identified: career reflection (reflective behaviour), work exploration (exploring behaviour), career action (proactive behaviour) and networking (interactive behaviour). The results show that the existence of these competencies among students in higher vocational education correlates with a learning environment that is characterized by a practice-based and inquiry-based curriculum, which offers students the opportunity to engage in a career dialogue. The existence of a career dialogue, in which students can discuss the personal and societal relevance of the real-life problems they encounter, and the experiences they have, proves to be essential. Without a dialogue the learning potential of a practice- and inquiry-based curriculum is limited.