When choosing a career path, it’s important to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Luckily, nowadays, we have specialized tools, like the Myers-Briggs personality classification system and corresponding personality tests that can offer valuable guidance in understanding ourselves and the way we relate to the external world.
In this article, we will use this helpful information about personality traits and preferences to talk about the best and worst ISFJ careers, their behavior and typical roles in a work environment, and some of the majors that suit them best.
Before we start, it’s important to highlight that these are mostly guidelines that fit ISFJs as a group. Of course, things can be different at an individual level, so make sure to take everything with a grain of salt. After all, ISFJs are known for their realistic view of life, and they love to consider all the facts and data before making any life-changing decisions.
Thus, without further ado, let’s dive into the best ISFJ careers and the personality traits that influence these choices.
ISFJ At Work
The ISFJ personality type is known by the MBTI community as The Defender, and this is a pretty accurate description of their way of living and thinking (especially in a professional environment).
ISFJs at work usually lean toward careers that help them protect people (usually the ones who drew the shorter stick in life), but they are also fierce defenders of tradition. They strongly believe that society should function in a certain way and that there’s a specific path to follow when you want to help others.
In fact, if one were to associate the ISFJ personality type with a saying, it would probably be: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, this way of thinking can be limiting, especially in our world that is always advancing toward new technologies and methodologies.
Furthermore, The Defender is someone who gets so caught up in helping others that they forget about themselves at times. They even derive their validation from people’s feelings and respect (since they need to feel useful to others), so it can be a bit difficult to offer an ISFJ critical feedback. Some ISFJ personalities may even tend to blame themselves if something doesn’t go according to plan (and they love planning!).
Still, at the end of the day, the ISFJ type describes a person who is likable, naturally warm, helpful, calm, and sociable (even though they are introverts by nature). As such, most people are attracted to their demeanor.
On the other hand, team managers who might supervise ISFJs need to understand that they rarely speak up in self-defense or get confrontational. However, they can be assertive if someone ignores their code of conduct or if they think someone is being treated unfairly. Thus, the best way to deal with an ISFJ at work is to constantly check up with them and ask for (genuine) feedback; if they see their opinion is valued, it’s more likely they’ll open up and share their thoughts.
Given all the character traits we have mentioned, the best jobs for ISFJ types are service-oriented positions. Regardless of their career path (lawyers, accountants, librarians, nurses, doctors, and so on), ISFJs often need to be serving others to feel fulfilled.
ISFJ Career Matches
The best career paths for ISFJs are the ones tailored to their strengths. As personality types with Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging preferences, these people are committed, hardworking, supportive of others, patient, and extremely reliable (the most obvious ISFJ strengths).
In summary, The Defender in the Myers-Briggs type indicator can be the ideal employee in positions that require cool-minded people who can keep their calm and stick to the plan, even in an emergency or high-pressure scenario.
However, ISFJs don’t thrive in just any work environment. They need structure and an explicit authority figure who can provide them with clear explanations on the steps to follow. Furthermore, an ISFJ person doesn’t (usually) enjoy the spotlight. They would rather work behind the scenes and enjoy the boost of happiness they receive from being useful to others.
What career path suits an ISFJ person the best?
We put together a list of the top career options that work well for the Defender personality, and we’ll also talk about the ones most likely to bring financial stability and gain, so make sure to read carefully.
Compassionate and highly organized, the ISFJ personality type is at ease in the healthcare field. Still, being a nurse is the position that’s best suited for their traits. They get to work with people in need (their patients), and their strong social skills allow them to connect at a deeper level. In addition, as a nurse, the ISFJ can feel like they are contributing to a higher purpose, not just working out of their own financial necessity.
Furthermore, working in a hospital or medical facility puts their mind at ease when it comes to their need for explicit authority and respect for tradition. These establishments have well-set practices and procedures, so everyone knows what their responsibilities and tasks are.
As a bookkeeper, you need to be meticulous and organized, with high attention to detail. These are all ISFJ personality traits, which is why an ISFJ with a love for numbers can easily become a great bookkeeper.
Furthermore, bookkeeping is a profession with a clear set of rules that satisfies an ISFJ’s need for structure in their daily lives. It’s also an independent occupation (even if it takes place in an office setting), which appeals to their introverted side.
Overall, even though it’s not a flashy position, being a bookkeeper is very well-suited for someone with strong ISFJ traits. They often get to work alone or behind the scenes, and their effort contributes to the well-being of an entire company or organization (the greater purpose).
As a side note, a determined ISFJ bookkeeper can become a highly appreciated ISFJ accountant if they take the proper tests.
Paralegals are legal assistants, and you can find them working in law firms or around attorneys. They play a supporting role, as they are the ones to conduct research on various legal matters, draft court documents, and communicate with clients. Still, this doesn’t mean their job is not important. Without paralegals’ hard work, attorneys would not have access to high-quality research and data that can be critical for winning a case.
On the list of jobs for ISFJ personality types, paralegals are somewhat similar to bookkeepers. Their activity is independent, yet their responsibilities are part of the team effort to build and present a successful case in court.
4. IT Administrator
The world of IT is a safe haven for introverts everywhere! Protected by screens and buried deep in their own world, the IT niche opened a whole world of possibilities for the quiet introvert. However, the ISFJ has good social skills, so they don’t have to shy away from engaging with other people.
This is why they are best suited for administrator roles, where they are the intermediary between people and the system itself. As an IT administrator, you get to organize hardware and software, provide maintenance and technical support, and make sure everyone is happy with their tools. In short, the IT administrator is yet another support role in the service of the team.
Since ISFJs are usually happy working in the background, they enjoy being the reliable ones who keep things going. In addition, The Defender is the kind of person who thrives in a position that requires organization, high attention to detail, and meticulousness. Thus, even though IT administrators don’t get the appreciation they deserve, an ISFJ will see through this and understand that their work has meaning.
5. Office Manager
On the list of recommended jobs for ISFJ personality types, you’ll usually find careers that involve organization and planning, but you’ll rarely find positions that require leadership. As we stated before, The Defender personality doesn’t like being in the spotlight, and they thrive in support roles.
Still, there are a few exceptions to the rule, and the role of an office manager is one of them. This position makes use of the ISFJ’s reliability, organization, and respect for rules while still allowing them to lead from the shadows. As an office manager, an ISFJ gets to enforce and establish procedures and practices, but they are not leading the entire workplace team(s) per se.
Overall, the office manager position is still a support role, with the difference that it comes with more power and responsibility.
The five career paths mentioned above are only a small sample of what ISFJs can achieve in a professional environment. While these are the best career matches for the ISFJ Myers-Briggs type, there are plenty of other options to consider.
In summary, any job that allows them to be of service to others – while using their strengths of organization, people skills, reliability, and meticulousness – is a viable option. Furthermore, in any well-structured environment with clear rules and hierarchy, chances are you’ll find a few ISFJs doing their best to be meaningful and useful.
Accordingly, here are a few other career options that will suit someone with an ISFJ personality type:
- Interior designer
- Physical therapist
- Registered dietitian nutritionist
- Technical support specialist
- Social worker
- Administrative assistant
- Software engineer
- Data scientist
- Elementary teacher
- School administrator
- Radiation therapist
- Medical researcher
- Human resources professional
- Account manager
- Technical support
- Film editor
- Museum curator
- Showroom designer
- Production assistant
- Registered Childminder
- Customer service advisor
ISFJ Careers That Make Money
While most ISFJ individuals are looking for meaning in their work and want to be true to their moniker (The Defender), this doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in financial stability (or even affluence).
The top five ISFJ career matches we discussed are a fantastic fit for this personality type. However, the financial compensation is not necessarily something to write home about, not to mention that most of these employees are overworked and only receive basic benefits (if any).
Fortunately, there are some career paths that can help you feel fulfilled while also enjoying some financial freedom.
For instance, since ISFJs are so great in the medical field, some jobs that also pay well are:
- Obstetricians and gynecologists (median salary of over $208,000)
- Physician assistants (around $104,800)
- Nurse administrators (over $98,000)
- Dental hygienists (around $74,000)
Other jobs that offer a solid ground for an ISFJ’s professional development are:
- Personal financial advisors (a median salary of $90,600+)
- Compensation and benefits managers (over $119,000)
- Software engineer (around $95,000)
Of course, the median salary can vary from one country to another, and it can change over time, but these are positions in high demand right now. Also, since they require high attention to detail, the ability to work in a structured environment, and dedication, ISFJs will fit right in.
ISFJ Careers to Avoid
The Myers-Briggs Type Index offers each person the chance to know and understand their own thoughts, feelings, and wishes. It’s like a guide to life that may offer an explanation as to why you are more drawn to certain people, things, and activities.
Furthermore, a system like the MBTI can be used to identify the best and worst potential career options for each type. This doesn’t mean a person can’t do well in a certain position. It just shows the areas where a person has the best chance to succeed and the areas they may want to avoid.
As such, The Defender personality type (who is an introvert at heart) should avoid career paths that require lots of draining social interaction. Also, since they love structure and plans, a job where things can change from one minute to another will most likely leave them feeling disoriented and exhausted.
In short, here are the top three worst careers for ISFJ:
As a journalist, it’s difficult to plan ahead and keep a schedule. You follow the news, and you need to be prepared to drop everything and go once the phone rings. This is in direct conflict with an ISFJ’s need for routine and structure.
Furthermore, ISFJs don’t really like to receive negative feedback, and it can be difficult for them to cope with the negativity and scrutiny that’s sometimes associated with being a journalist (when they have to report on hard truths or negative events).
2. Sales Manager
As much as possible, ISFJs should stay clear of the world of sales, but if they land such a position, it is wise to avoid climbing the ladder. This domain is aggressive, and the focus is set on the sale, not the people (which is difficult for a Defender personality type to process). Furthermore, people who thrive in sales often love the spotlight and crave recognition, drawing their motivation from it.
While an ISFJ can identify people’s feelings and needs and knows how to relate to them, they would have a very tough time pushing products or services just to make a sale. Likewise, it is important to highlight that this is a very competitive environment, where the quiet, unassertive Defender may feel completely out of water.
If you’ve ever watched a movie where an attorney pleads a case, you know these people are aggressive, highly communicative, and can stay calm in difficult situations. ISFJs can get very invested in defending those less fortunate, but they may have an issue representing corporations or individuals looking to get away with injustice without punishment.
Furthermore, as an attorney, ISFJs would have to be on the front lines of conflict, taking on both praise and criticism directly. This can be draining and even scary for a personality type like The Defender.
Honorable Mentions of ISFJ Careers to Avoid
In conclusion, a job with an unpredictable schedule that lacks structure and a clear hierarchy won’t be easy for someone who fits in the Myers-Briggs ISFJ personality type. In addition, their love for tradition and desire to feel useful to others will steer them away from careers in the spotlight.
With this in mind, here are a few more ISFJ jobs to avoid:
- Executive positions
- Management consultant
- Marketing manager
- Financial manager
- Insurance agent
- Art director
- Mechanical engineer
- Market researcher
- Social scientist
ISFJ College Majors
Choosing a college major can be the first step toward your dream career, so it’s important to choose well. Luckily, the MBTI system is a great guide in identifying your temperament and preferences in life.
For instance, according to the MBTI system, the ISFJ personality type helps the quiet introvert stay social while being dependable and loyal. Since they like to be of service to others, ISFJs often become the backbone of their group or company, the glue that holds everything together. Since they value the present, ISFJs are not dreamers (like other introverted types), but they still get drained by extensive social scenarios. Furthermore, they are action-oriented and practical, which makes them ideal for a wide range of work environments (as we already discussed).
Thus, one of the best degrees for an ISFJ would be nursing (incidentally, the main occupation for ISFJs). We would also recommend finance (to become a financial advisor) and marketing (not for executive roles) since The Defender personality is easily motivated by helping others and can relate to other people’s feelings. Lastly, ISFJs can also shine in more technical majors like industrial engineering (a combination of business and engineer careers).
If the choices above don’t speak to you, here are a few other options for ISFJ majors:
- Business administration
- Information technology
- Criminal justice
- Environmental design
- Hospitality management
- Legal studies
- Religious studies
- Social work