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Best (and Worst) Careers for an INTP

Finding the right career path can be a lifelong quest. Aside from the skills you’ll need, your personality is also a major factor to consider in your career choice. Which work activities would you be happy to do, and what kind of work environment will maximize your strengths?

Although you might only be able to answer these questions fully with experience, knowing your MBTI personality type can give you some hints. In the following article, we will take a look at the INTP personality type (a.k.a. The Logician or The Engineer) at work. If you’re an INTP, you’ll learn all about your work needs and which careers are common among your type. For other personality types, this guide can shed light on what makes INTP colleagues tick.

Not sure what your Myers-Briggs personality type is? You can easily find out if you take our comprehensive personality test.

Out of all the MBTI personality types, the INTP is the most dedicated to evaluating situations rationally and understanding how things work. Knowledge and learning are extremely important to them, and they are intrinsically motivated by their desire for mastery. In professional settings, these Thinking types contribute out-of-the-box thinking and a sharp intellect. Underneath their quiet, pensive exterior, INTPs have extremely active minds. As they are introverted, their focus is more directed towards their inner world. Given their Perceiving preference, they tend to question rules and guidelines, accepting the status quo only when it holds up to scrutiny.

With this unique set of qualities, which careers complement the INTP personality type the most? Which occupations have the greatest potential to be frustrating for them? And which college majors does an INTP person gravitate to as they embark on their career path?

Keep reading to find the answers to all of these questions (and more)!

INTPs at Work

INTPs are open-minded and inventive workers who are primarily interested in abstract ideas. Since the INTP is an Intuitive type, they have an instinctive knack for seeing the underlying principles in complex problems, and they can then propose creative solutions. Ultimately, the INTP is a deep thinker who takes many different perspectives into account. A new idea always invigorates them, and they love being at the forefront of innovation.

One of the greatest strengths they bring to a work environment is their detached, analytical mindset. They make decisions based on existing data and logic, and since they strive to be as impartial as possible, they are rarely swayed by their emotions. At the same time, the INTP is not a narrow-minded thinker; their Intuitive preference allows them to be aware of the bigger picture. The Logician is excellent at deducing a whole system by studying seemingly disparate pieces of information. Given their rich imagination, they delight in exploring possibilities and brainstorming.

INTPs place great trust in their own ability to think critically. In fact, they prefer to work independently as much as possible, which is typical for an introverted MBTI type. Although they’re capable of being part of a team, they perform at their best when they can process ideas on their own, simply presenting the result to their colleagues once they’re done. INTPs generally have no strong desire either to lead or to follow – instead, they’ll choose whichever position makes the most sense to them based on logic.

INTPs hold themselves to high standards in terms of their competence, and they expect the same of others. Because they prioritize efficiency over social formalities, they can come off as aloof to their colleagues. They may also be quite forward with their feedback, stating the truth as it is instead of trying to cushion it. If placed in a team, The Logician works best with intellectually driven coworkers. Thanks to their Perceiving preference, they can also be remarkably flexible, trusting other people to get the work done in their own way as long as they achieve the objective.

INTP Career Matches

The best careers for INTPs revolve around theoretical problem-solving, while providing plenty of room for improvisation. The Logician is much more excited about conceptualizing rather than implementing. They would rather discover new ways of doing things – then leave the practical application to someone else. The overall vision is what captures their attention, while the actual details or logistics can seem much more mundane to them.

As a highly independent thinker, the INTP must also have autonomy in their work. INTPs tend to be spontaneous, and they may work in the uneven bursts common to a Perceiving MBTI type. For example, it might take them a long time to mull over a specific situation. But once they have a clear idea of how it works overall, they can produce their output quickly. They seek out variety, often jumping right into a project without planning, or pursuing a train of thought simply because it seems intriguing. An occupation that provides ample leeway for this, along with a great deal of privacy, would be an ideal career choice.

Here are some jobs in which it’s easy for INTPs to feel comfortable:

1. Computer Programmer

Technology holds many ideal career paths for INTPS, and working as a computer programmer can be a natural fit for them. Whether they’re tinkering with websites, software, or even games, INTP programmers have a great deal of freedom when it comes to designing and building technological systems. Programmers spend most of their time wrangling with their code and engaging their problem-solving skills. This can be intellectually stimulating for The Logician. Since they constantly have new challenges to solve, INTPs rarely ever become bored – instead, they’re likely to feel energized.

Being a programmer also requires learning new technology on the go. Technology never stops evolving–a currently popular programming language might be on the sidelines already after two years. Given their preference for Perceiving, INTPs don’t mind having to adapt their knowledge continuously. They learn best on their own in an unstructured work environment, so they’re comfortable researching new concepts without much supervision. The entrepreneurial, fast-paced nature of tech can be exciting for INTPs. And, as a true introvert, the INTP also doesn’t mind reserving significant blocks of alone time to concentrate on their work.

2. Professor

INTPs are sometimes likened to absent-minded professors, and this isn’t meant only in an abstract sense. Many INTPs actually do choose to be college or graduate school professors. Despite their initial shyness, INTPs have a gift for explaining concepts from various angles. When INTP professors talk about a concept, their understanding is rarely ever shallow. They’re guaranteed to have examined it thoroughly and mentally broken it down into its core components. As long as they have the patience, they can walk students through point after point, incorporating metaphors and creative examples. In fact, the philosopher Socrates was said to be an INTP. He was famous for his Socratic method of teaching, in which he used questions to get people to think critically rather than simply imposing his knowledge on them.

As reserved and introverted as they might be, INTPs may find it inspiring to be a professor. After all, they’re passing on their innovative thinking and love of knowledge to the next generation, in the field that they’re passionate about. Aside from the satisfaction of teaching, a larger part of being a professor is doing research and writing papers. For INTPs, the freedom to pursue their academic interests in depth can be very appealing.

3. Scientist

Given their penchant for rigorous, logical thinking, it’s easy to see why INTPs make great scientists. Many famous INTPs, including Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Galileo Galilei, have made landmark discoveries in science. Because they have Introverted Thinking as their primary cognitive function, INTPs are at ease using their analytical skills to figure out logical connections. They’re compelled to make sense of the world, which is, more or less, the main objective of science. INTP scientists will see their pursuits as more than a job; on the contrary, their burning curiosity will keep motivating them towards innovation. They’re genuinely interested in the results of their research, and they assess studies and experiments with a critical eye.

While experimentation is one pillar of science, accumulating a solid knowledge base is another. INTP scientists easily demonstrate the skill for this, studying complex theories and keeping themselves updated by reading the latest journals. And, besides logical thinking and knowledge accumulation, open-mindedness is another of the major personality traits of The Logician, one that makes them excellent scientific minds. They are willing to consider new and unconventional options as long as they are logically accurate. INTPs see themselves as neutral observers even in their personal lives, so they can easily step into an objective scientific mindset.

4. Data Analyst

As much as possible, INTPs aim to be data-driven. They put greater emphasis on the existing facts and pragmatic pros and cons rather than their emotions. This is why an INTP person can be drawn to careers in the emerging fields of data analysis or data science. INTPs often thrive in technology, and being a developer isn’t the only common career path for them there. They can also excel at working with data, crunching huge data sets with precision and extracting patterns and insights.

A career in data allows INTPs to be versatile. For one, they can look at data from different industries, ranging from online sales to stock market projections. On top of these research responsibilities, data analysts have to create reports, graphs, and visualizations to express their findings. The INTP will certainly enjoy the variety of skills to master here. Additionally, skepticism is very much a part of the job. Expectations can vary widely from what the actual data says, and objective INTPs will be careful to verify patterns and ensure that they aren’t mere fluctuations. In particular, data science also requires a heavy background in both programming and math, two highly theoretical subjects that The Logician gravitates towards.

5. Author

Contemplative and free-spirited INTPs may find that being an author is a fulfilling career choice. Many INTPs are talented with the written word. Despite their constantly buzzing minds, INTPs can be hesitant to express themselves out loud. Instead, they may prefer to convey their more intricate ideas and opinions through writing. The introverted INTP personality needs plenty of space to reflect, and writing gives them the privacy to explore their thoughts to the fullest before they present them to the world.

Unlike traditional jobs, the occupation of being an author provides INTPs with a great deal of independence. INTP authors can dictate the day-to-day details of their schedules and can work wherever they want, which is a Perceiving type’s dream. In addition, they can be free of distractions, focusing on their writing while minimizing unnecessary meetings and interruptions. Once INTPs are absorbed in a creative project, they can keep on going for hours. Aside from being capable and curious enough to tackle a variety of topics, INTP authors are also meticulous with fact-checking and investigating. They can be perfectionists even in the way they use language; INTPs choose their words carefully, always searching for the most accurate way to say what they mean.

Honorable mentions: 

There are plenty of other jobs that resonate with the INTP personality. Engineering and product design can attract INTPs, who may enjoy challenges like laying out complex frameworks for concrete structures. In general, the whole gamut of STEM careers (science, technology, engineering, math) may be ideal for many INTPs. Aside from these career paths, INTPs might also end up in the humanities or social sciences. They often take on roles where they can concentrate on developing unique insights.

Here are some more suggestions for a suitable INTP career:

  1. Accountant
  2. Archeologist
  3. Architect
  4. Artist
  5. Civil Engineer
  6. Cognitive Psychologist
  7. Criminologist
  8. Database Administrator
  9. Economist
  10. Financial Analyst
  11. Game Designer
  12. Entrepreneur
  13. Graphic Designer
  14. Historian
  15. Industrial Designer
  16. Industrial Engineer
  17. Information Security Officer
  18. Interpreter
  19. Investment Banker
  20. Journalist
  21. Lawyer
  22. Mathematician
  23. Market Research Analyst
  24. Mechanical Engineer
  25. Music Composer
  26. Photographer
  27. Physicist
  28. Physician
  29. Political Scientist
  30. Private Investigator
  31. Psychiatrist
  32. Sociologist
  33. Statistician
  34. System Administrator
  35. System Analyst
  36. Technical Writer
  37. Urban Planner
  38. Veterinarian

INTP Careers to Avoid

INTPs have the potential to succeed in any career. However, there are careers that complement their personality better than others. Excellence in these career choices will take less effort for INTPs than the average person, because these highlight their strengths. On the other hand, certain careers can be tough for them. They’re still capable of reaching a high level of competence here, but they can become restless or dissatisfied.

The list of INTP careers to avoid focuses on the INTPs’ less developed functions. Strengthening these weaker cognitive functions can make INTPs more balanced individuals, but they’ll have a much easier time using their leading functions, Introverted Thinking and Extraverted Intuition, for their day-to-day work.

Here are the top jobs that aren’t compatible with the INTP type’s approach to the world:

1. Preschool Teacher

Careers that involve socializing throughout the day can be very exhausting for introverted INTPs. While they can develop their Extraverted Feeling (their fourth and inferior function) with regular use, staying on the alert for emotional cues and managing energetic groups can wear INTPs down quickly. For this reason, INTPs usually avoid being preschool teachers. They might be happy to teach adults in a university setting, but they can get frustrated when trying to teach grade school students or even young children.

INTPs place a high value on intellectual pursuits, and they’re fond of having discussions with like-minded individuals. Although children can be endearing to them, INTPs may struggle with adapting their communication style. Compared to adults, children are rowdier with short attention spans; simple games, storytelling, and music catch their attention. This clashes with the INTP personality’s preference for stating ideas bluntly and concisely. They may also dislike the need to match kids’ energy levels and handle their frequent emotional displays.

2. Administrative Officer

If there’s one thing that INTPs dislike in a career, it’s too much routine. Once INTPs have grasped a specific procedure, they would rather move on to something new or modify it to perform better. Despite the huge variety of tasks that administrative officers handle, this job doesn’t match well with the INTP personality type. Administrative officers often perform routine duties such as organizing meetings, keeping track of inventory, and answering telephone calls. After the first few weeks or even days, INTPs are likely to get bored.

INTPs want intellectual work that utilizes their innovative thinking, and they don’t take well to being bogged down by mundane details and repetitive activities. On top of this, step-by-step planning and organization aren’t the INTP type’s strong suit, and skill in these areas is crucial for being a good administrative officer. INTPs can be dreamy and lost in thought, which causes them to miss out on important physical details.

3. Sales and Telemarketing

Sales careers are primarily about building relationships, from generating instant rapport with contacts to patiently persuading customers to be interested in products or services. The amount of social interaction required in a sales occupation can be taxing for INTPs, who would rather form close working relationships with a few people rather than constantly strike up chats with strangers. INTPs would also rather mostly avoid small talk, and they can see certain pleasantries as unnecessary or even superficial. Because they rarely care about what others think, they might also lack the motivation to connect with clients that they don’t instantly get along with.

While INTPs can become spirited in debates, they have a “live and let live” stance with other people’s choices. Selling products can be difficult for them unless they genuinely like the product too. Even then, INTPs are straightforward talkers who would rather give objective assessments; highlighting only a product’s positive aspects would feel unnatural for them.

Honorable mentions:

To sum up, careers that are centered around social interaction can be stressful for INTPs. Although INTPs may be fine with necessary one-on-one conversations or occasional meetings with small teams, they will dislike having to devote most of their work hours to conversation with others. On top of this, they’re put off by a rigid work environment where they’re micromanaged. They’re likely to feel constrained when they have to adhere tightly to instructions, and monotonous tasks that don’t require creativity can drain their energy.

Here are a few more examples of jobs that INTPs wouldn’t be naturally compatible with:

  • Corporate Manager
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Event Organizer
  • Military Officer
  • Motivational Coach
  • Nurse
  • Politician
  • Social Worker

INTP College Majors

INTPs are enthusiastic learners, and they are likely to enjoy college much more than school settings for younger students. This is mainly because college is often taught by professors with the Intuitive preference. INTPs naturally like to debate and get a holistic perspective, which is much more encouraged in college.

Although they can grasp concepts instinctively, INTPs may have a love-hate relationship with school in general. Their skeptical, inquiring mindset can lead them to question the way things are usually done. They may dutifully work hard for classes that genuinely engage them, but they’re more hard-pressed to put in extra effort on homework just for the sake of getting good grades. The Logician can also end up second-guessing teachers’ conclusions, never taking them at face value. For these reasons, INTPs are among the top personality types who said in a survey that school is a high source of stress.

INTPs usually choose college majors that are extremely conceptual and conducive to free thinking. We have listed several majors below that align well with the INTP personality type:

  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Science
  • Industrial Design
  • Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy
  • Physician / Doctor of Medicine
  • Theoretical Physics