Picking a career is hard. Not only is it one of the most important choices we face, but we often try to take into account things like financial stability, long-term prospects, and even societal expectations. But, in the flurry of factors to consider, we sometimes gloss over one of the most important – our natural inclinations.
We all have spheres and activities that we are drawn to, as well as strengths and weaknesses that set us up for success in certain occupations. Besides professional achievement, choosing a career that’s a good match for our personality can also bring us fulfillment and satisfaction or, as Mark Twain put it: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
So how do we match our temperament to our job? The first step would be to find out as much as possible about ourselves. This is where tests like the 16 Personalities Type Indicator can be very helpful. Such tests can provide a basis for a systematic inner exploration that we can hardly achieve through introspection alone.
And the second step? That would be finding out which careers provide the conditions that you could thrive in and which ones to avoid. That’s where this article comes in. We look at the ISFP personality type’s preferred work environment, as well as the best and worst career matches for this type. We also explore the most suitable college majors for the ISFP.
ISFPs at Work
Each personality type is defined by its personality preferences and cognitive functions. In the case of ISFPs, the preferences are Introversion (I), Sensing (S), Feeling (F), and Perceiving (P). And their dominant functions (primary and secondary, respectively) are Introverted Feeling and Extroverted Sensing. But it’s not only the sum of characteristics that matter but also how they interact with each other and are manifested as a whole.
ISFP, also known as The Adventurer, is one of the warmest, most creative, and spontaneous of the 16 personality types. Naturally, they are most likely to flourish in occupations that allow them to express these qualities.
As caring and sensitive individuals, Adventurers are drawn to careers in which they can be helpful and provide support to others. They are great listeners and are action-oriented, so they are likely to find practical ways to assist others. However, their pragmatism does not get in the way of their warm-hearted nature. ISFPs tend to be attuned to the emotional meaning of words and actions, so they are also good at providing emotional support.
Adventurers are creative and adaptable. They enjoy being challenged to find innovative solutions to unexpected problems. Given how good they are at finding creative and practical ways to adapt, they are comfortable with change and unpredictable situations. ISFPs don’t like to be bogged down by strict routines or schedules. As Perceivers, they easily get bored with repetitive or regimented work.
Another ISFP characteristic that makes it hard for them to succeed in overly structured work environments is their penchant for adventure. ISFPs are free spirits who place a high value on their autonomy and personal space. Having to adhere to strict rules and regulations tends to bring out their rebellious side. They want the flexibility to pursue novel experiences when they feel like it. They are guided by their internal sense of right and wrong, so they tend to question authority.
That said, ISFPs can be counted on to take responsibilities seriously, as long as goals are set clearly and they are given enough space to decide on how to approach the tasks at hand. As introverts, they prefer more solitary work, although they are kind and considerate team members. Their reserve also makes it unlikely for them to seek out explicit leadership roles. However, their inclination to experiment and innovate often makes them trendsetters, wittingly or not.
ISFP Career Matches
What about specific spheres that ISFPs typically excel in? Below we’ve outlined a few professions that are commonly seen as a great match for ISFPs’ temperament, aptitudes, and possible shortcomings (for an overview of traits, strengths, and weaknesses, check out the ISFP Personality Traits article). But it’s important to keep in mind that those are not exclusive. Generally speaking, an individual of any personality type can be good at any profession, given the right attitude and conditions. If you are an ISFP person and are passionate about a vocation that happens to be missing from the list below, don’t be discouraged! The careers included here are just examples that tend to offer a favorable setting for an Adventurer to thrive in.
One clue that can give us an idea of a potentially ideal career for ISFPs is one of their nicknames – Artists. Another commonly used name to refer to this personality type is the Composer. What’s more, this type is part of the SP originator temperament, also known as the Artisan temperament, as defined by the psychologist David Keirsey. These monikers point to the fact that ISFPs are often drawn to some form of art, especially visual art and music. That’s probably why so many famous ISFPs are musicians, filmmakers, or artists.
One reason for ISFP’s penchant for art is their keen focus on the information coming in from their senses. Adventurers live in the moment and pay close attention to their surroundings. They are creative and have a strong aesthetic sense, so naturally, they have a knack for artistic expression.
But art is not the only sphere that ISFPs approach with creativity. They tend to be innovators and experimenters, whatever the field. Their practical thinking and aversion to abstract theorizing often lead them to spheres that deal with concrete phenomena and where the action is more valued than speculation or long-term planning.
Another defining characteristic of Adventurers is their constant quest for authenticity and genuine human connection. Combined with their kind and empathic nature, this makes them a great fit for fields that are primarily focused on helping others, such as counseling, social work, or health services. ISFPs’ reliance on their intuition and their internal moral code also makes it unlikely that they will pursue careers that don’t align with their value system.
Below are several specific careers that are a good match for the ISFP.
As discussed, ISFPs’ suitability for a career in art is hardly surprising, given that ‘Artist’ is one of their nicknames. Besides their eye for beauty and their urge for creative expression, Adventurers are bound to enjoy the freedom that artistic pursuits often entail. Individuals of this personality type place a high value on their autonomy and visual artists such as painters and sculptors tend to be more independent in their work than other professionals. Also, the work that these occupations typically require is more solitary, which the ISFP type will probably appreciate, as an introvert.
This creative freedom often comes at a price. The life of an artist is more likely to be fraught with uncertainty than other, more steady and predictable, professions. Financial security is often reserved for a small group of the most successful artists. But the ISFP is one of the personality types best suited for enduring the risks associated with being an artist, as ISFPs enjoy unpredictable situations and are quick to adapt to change. And in any case, there are specific fields in the sphere of visual arts that have the potential to be more stable, such as graphic design, photography, and animation.
Anyone who has worked in a restaurant knows the kitchen is one of the most dynamic and fast-paced work environments. Cooks and chefs are often rushing to complete all orders on time and there is little room for hesitation. This is likely to appeal to the practical and action-oriented ISFP.
Working in food preparation may also satisfy Adventurers’ need for creative expression, as coming up with new recipes often requires giving free rein to one’s imagination. In addition, cooking professionally is more of a visual art form than it is usually given credit for. Food should look as good as it tastes, as the saying goes. Food presentation is an important part of the overall restaurant experience and a great chance for ISFPs to unleash their creativity. Another aspect of the work which may attract Adventurers is the varied and erratic workflow, as they easily get bored with routine and predictability.
Not only are ISFPs caring and compassionate towards humans, but they also tend to love animals more than the average person. So becoming a veterinarian may prove to be a fulfilling career path for them. Vets are often faced with critical situations in which they have to make quick decisions to help animal patients in need and even save their lives. ISFPs are often quick-witted and action-oriented, which could help them be effective in this job.
Adventurers’ sensitivity and emotional awareness can also help them provide effective care and intuitively understand the needs of patients that lack the ability to articulate their medical problems. ISFPs are often driven by a desire to help others, so a job as a veterinarian may satisfy their need to be of service. Plus, the relative autonomy associated with this profession is likely to appeal to the freedom-loving Adventurer.
Social work is another helping profession that can be rewarding for the kind and empathic ISFP. Adventurers’ skill of picking up on people’s needs even if they don’t state them explicitly can make them considerate social workers. ISFPs usually have strong listening skills, so the people they work with are bound to feel appreciated. Being a social worker involves assisting people in more than one way, depending on the situation and the needs of the people in question. This variety can keep boredom at bay for ISFPs, who always seek novel experiences and don’t like repetition.
Another common characteristic of this line of work is that it often involves concrete results. Whether it’s an improvement with some specific problem or in a person’s overall well-being, the fruits of a social worker’s labor tend to be visible. This may be stimulating for the practical and down-to-earth Adventurer, who shies away from speculation and intangible goals.
Being a teacher is more than a job – it’s a calling. And that’s exactly what the ISFP is looking for. Adventurers are constantly seeking ways to express themselves authentically and to serve a higher purpose. They are driven by their inner values and don’t succumb to external pressure easily. This could instill integrity in their students, especially younger ones. Besides, ISFPs are good at dealing with chaotic and unpredictable situations, which tend to be the norm with young children.
Adventurers can also channel their desire to share their passion with others by teaching a subject that they care about, whether it’s art, dance, music, or something else. ISFPs’ creativity can also help them find innovative ways to transmit knowledge to their pupils. Through their practical focus, Adventurers can facilitate hands-on learning, ensuring that students gain more than just a theoretical understanding of the topic.
What better way to express your feelings than through music? Music is a language that bypasses words and directly pulls the strings of emotion. The immediacy inherent in musical expression is likely to appeal to ISFPs, who tend to be grounded in the present and favor concrete communication over vague and theoretical musings. As already mentioned, it’s no coincidence that one of the nicknames for the ISFP personality type is the Composer.
There are a couple of other characteristics of the life of a musician that fit the ISFP’s temperament. A career in music often involves a lot of traveling and irregular schedules. As their nickname suggests, Adventurers are always ready for new experiences, for unexplored sights and scenes, and for meeting someone new. One of the defining qualities of music is that it is ever-changing, which tends to be true for the life of a musician, so the thrill-seeking ISFP is unlikely to get bored or feel stuck in a predictable routine.
7. Brand manager
Being a brand manager usually involved coming up with brand strategies and implementing them or overseeing their implementation. These strategies often have to be unique and original, so the creative ISFP will probably enjoy this type of work. Adventurers can be especially good at the brainstorming part of the process. ISFPs are also in touch with people’s feelings and attitudes; they are great listeners and are very observant. This, as well as their great people skills in general, can make them good at devising campaigns that speak to their target audience.
ISFP may also appreciate the dynamic and multifaceted nature of this job. Brand managers usually have to oversee more than a few channels of communication, such as TV adverts, outdoor advertising, social media presence, and so on. Each new project is likely to bring with it fresh challenges that have not been faced before, which should keep the novelty-seeking Adventurer satisfied.
8. Flight Attendant
Being a flight attendant is one of the few ways to earn a living while traveling around the world. This can be enticing to the adventurous ISFP who usually enjoys visiting new places and immersing themselves in new cultures. Flight attendants often have to endure irregular working hours and overall fluctuating schedules – a condition the ISFP is likely to be comfortable with, especially compared to personality types that have the Judging preference.
Flight attendants also have to be polite and helpful. Adventurers’ personable nature, along with their desire to be of service to others, makes them well suited for this job. They are courteous and are good at avoiding conflict, so they should be able to deal with unexpected problems on board. Flight attendants often have to deal with unique situations in which making a fast decision is critical, and the adaptable and quick-witted ISFP has got what it takes.
Here are some other ISFP jobs and careers that may be a good fit for this personality type:
- Air traffic controller
- Animal trainer
- Art therapist
- Camera operator
- Child care provider
- Customer service specialist
- Environmental scientist
- ER physician
- Fashion designer
- Fitness instructor
- Forest ranger
- Freelance consultant
- Graphic designer
- Interior designer
- Landscape architect
- Marine biologist
- Medical technician
- Multimedia artist
- Museum curator
- Occupational therapist
- Office manager
- Physical therapist
- Police officer
- Public relations specialist
- Recreation worker
- Recreational therapist
- Social media manager
- Systems analyst
- Veterinary assistant
- Web designer
ISFP Careers to Avoid
Below we’ve compiled a catalog of professions with typical characteristics, which may not be a good fit for the ISFP personality. But if you’re an ISFP, don’t let this dissuade you from pursuing a career you are passionate about just because it happens to be included here. This list is not meant to provide definitive guidance. Rather it aims to illustrate what occupational conditions may create a less-than-ideal environment for Adventurers to achieve their full potential. In the end, each person is one of a kind. Although the 16 personalities framework can help us get to know ourselves better (and aid us in our job search), we are ultimately the best judge of our aptitudes and inclinations.
Several circumstances may put off ISFPs from certain professional spheres. For one thing, an Adventurer personality type may find it hard to adhere to strict norms or follow rigid procedures. ISFPs value their autonomy and abide by their principles so they don’t take the validity of external rules for granted. A job that asks their unquestioning observance of rules may be too much to bear.
Adventurers are also likely to feel constrained by fixed schedules. For them, predictability equals boredom; they seek out novelty and variety. A 9-to-5 office job is not out of the question, but it has to have some element of surprise. ISFPs enjoy spontaneity and maybe disheartened by knowing exactly how their workday is going to play out in advance.
Another common personality trait of Adventurers is their introversion. Although they are warm and friendly, a job that requires constant communication or too much time in the spotlight may be exhausting for ISFPs.
This doesn’t mean that Adventurers don’t like to work with people. In fact, they are more likely to be averse to jobs that deal with things that have no connection to human needs. They like to make use of their considerable people skills, but simply want to have the space to recharge and determine their approach to the tasks at hand.
Here are several specific careers that may not be a good match for the ISFP:
Working in accounting usually means following established practices in preparing financial reports and statements. This type of work is often monotonous and predictable, so it is unlikely to appeal to the flexible and spontaneous ISFP type. Adventurers may quickly get bored with the predictable workflow of this profession. Also, accountants usually deal with concrete numbers and logical sequences that may not be of interest to the emotional ISFP. Although Adventurers are concerned with concrete and practical matters, they are also inclined towards human interaction and emotional expression issues.
Effective judges have to put aside their personal feelings and follow the rule of law to the letter. Of course, empathy and common sense are indispensable for a fair judge, but overreliance on one’s feelings may cause judges to lose sight of the big picture. ISFPs have a tendency to disregard external rules and stick to their own moral code, which can make it hard for them to remain unbiased in the courtroom. Guided by their dominant function – Introverted Feeling – Adventurers rely on their internal sense of right and wrong, so they may lose perspective and react in the spur of the moment. Although ISFPs are honest and principled, their spontaneity and impulsiveness may mislead them when giving a verdict.
Although there might be exceptions, introverts generally do not excel in sales jobs. Sales representatives usually have to contact clients, persuade them to buy products or services, and negotiate prices. All of these activities may be too draining for the private and reserved ISFP. Adventurers are friendly and approachable, but they would rather spend their energy trying to express themselves creatively or helping those in need. Salespeople also have to be persistent in their pursuit of a sale; achieving success in this field requires patience and the ability to stick to a plan. ISFPs live in the moment and have an aversion to long-term planning. They want to preserve their ability to drop a pursuit if it gets boring for them.
Engineering requires a rational and analytical mind. Engineers develop and maintain technological systems in various fields, which is a demanding job but can sometimes be monotonous. Although ISFPs prefer to focus on the facts, rather than abstract ideas, they would rather spend their energy on building genuine relationships and finding authentic ways to express themselves instead of inspecting technical details. Engineering requires some creativity but it may not be of the type that Adventurers are generally drawn to.
Here are a few other professions that may not be a good fit for the ISFP:
- Computer scientist
- Financial analyst
- Sales manager
- School administrator
ISFP College Majors
Picking a college major may feel even more daunting than making a career choice. After all, once you complete your degree you have established the direction you want to take professionally, at least to some extent. So how can we be sure we’ve made the right choice when it comes to college majors?
The better we know ourselves the more likely it is we make an informed decision. If we know our natural talents and curiosities we may be better positioned to discover what makes us tick. Below we’ve outlined some college majors that may be a good fit for the ISFP. But as with career options, if you’re an Adventurer and don’t see the major you’re leaning towards or have already chosen, don’t fret! These are meant to provide you with a general idea of the directions an ISFP may take and are not a definitive prescription.
- Apparel Design
- Athletic Training
- Environmental Design
- Exercise Science
- Food Management
- Health Science
- Interior Design
- Landscape Architecture
- Modern Languages
- Music Production
- Natural Resources
- Physical Education
- Public Relations
- Risk Management
- Social Work