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ISTJ Careers: Best Matches & Jobs to Avoid

The Archivist personality type is one of the most common among all other Myers Briggs personality types (they make about 13% of the population), so it’s easy to stumble upon them in all lines of work. They have a unique set of characteristics that, in general, leads them towards organizations that uphold traditions, such as administrative and law offices, military, and regulatory bodies.

Although the list of ISTJ career matches is long and diverse careers, they feel most comfortable when they are allowed to use logic and practical thinking as tools to create a better, more organized environment.

ISTJs are dedicated to their goals and take pride in their profession. Moreover, this MBTI type likes to take responsibility for their actions (responsibilities don’t bother them), and are meticulous in completing their tasks with perfection. Therefore, they can be entrusted with high-level jobs and often hold positions of authority.

In this article, we will dig deep into their personality traits to identify the ideal ISTJ careers and college majors. We will also try to pinpoint the occupations and fields they should avoid due to compatibility issues.

Not sure what your Myers Briggs personality type is? Take our comprehensive personality test to find out!

ISTJs at Work

If you are an INFP or an ENFP, you may perceive the ISTJ as that uptight superior at work (usually in a managerial position), who loves rules and can’t live without a plan. While this is a highly subjective perspective, ISTJs are indeed in love with rules and structure, which doesn’t float very well with other free-living MBTI types.

The Archivist personality type is not driven by emotions. Moreover, they have a certain level of insensitivity towards other people’s feelings, which is common among Thinking (T) types. As a result, the Feeling (F) types may perceive them as cold and calculated.

Another personality trait that stands out is their respect for hierarchy and traditions. ISTJs are not burdened by responsibility and enjoy proving that they are the best for the job. However, they prefer employing previously established methods and processes, instead of trying to find newer, better ones. This can be a weakness for the professional ISTJ, especially if there is no one strong enough to up to them.

ISTJs fit the “jack of all trades” stereotype, so it is difficult to pinpoint a specific profession that would mesh well with all their personality traits. But as long as there are clear instructions and a plan of action, an ISTJ will be able to tackle any project. Yet the best jobs for ISTJs are the ones that involve working with concrete facts and figures such as, computer programming, accounting, or science (among others).

Unlike some other MBTI types, the ISTJ type craves responsibility and is somewhat reluctant to ask for help when overburdened. Even then they don’t shy away from being a part of the team, as long as their colleagues are organized and responsible, and there is a clear hierarchy. However, as introverts, they do need time alone to process their thoughts and organize their ideas.

ISTJ Career Matches

Reliable, organized, meticulous, and patient, the ISTJ personality type is happy to both, follow orders and enforce rules and regulations. They respect authority and hierarchy, so the most fitting ISTJ careers are the ones that involve structure and order.

In addition, traits such as punctuality, loyalty, and patience are some of the most important ISTJ strengths. Therefore, they can work in strict environments, such as military or law enforcement without feeling suffocated by responsibilities and rules.

As part of a team, the ISTJ personality type will always be the one making sure tasks are completed according to specifications and within the deadline. The ISTJ personality type values a job well done and can’t understand people who leave things unfinished. Therefore, if their teammates are not as invested as the ISTJ in respecting deadlines and following rules, they would prefer working alone. However, ISTJs are an indispensable part of the team when it comes to implementing and supervising well-planned activities.

Lastly, they enjoy security and familiarity, which is why they tend to be inflexible when it comes to change. Any innovation or theory that threatens to disrupt their comfortable state will be met with stubbornness unless they find it has true value and potential. In other words, their strong sense of duty and respect for tradition can only be tamed by a great idea that has practical applications in the real world. Anything abstract or idealistic will have them turning on their heels in a moment.

Considering the ISTJ personality traits mentioned above, let’s have a look at some of the best ISTJ career choices.

1. Accountant or Auditor

Logical thinking, a propensity for facts and figures, and high observational skills are some of the traits that make ISTJs great for a career in this area. In addition, the ISTJ personality type feels comfortable in an environment where rules are clearly defined and there is a strict hierarchy to follow.

The Myers Briggs type indicator shows that the Archivist personality type is meticulous enough for such a highly detail-oriented position. Whether as an accountant or an auditor, ISTJs will do a fantastic job since the guidelines are clear and the position is completely devoid of emotional factors.

This career path has two main sides: one where you are alone with numbers, checking the data and, making reports; the other where you interact with customers and colleagues to communicate your findings and recommendations. Due to their Introversion (I) preference, ISTJs prefer being alone with their work but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy collaborative projects (as long as everyone involved is reliable and serious of course).

2. Business Analyst

A business analyst needs to gather and analyze data from various sources in order to provide a company or organization with valuable recommendations. The idea behind this career is to find a specialist outside one’s own business, someone who can analyze the current and past situations, formulate plans for improvement, or identify the best path to take in a certain situation.

This job requires working with concrete facts, statistics, numbers and data, and other highly standardized information, so it’s easy to see why it would be a great career for the ISTJ type. In fact, any analyst position would make for a great ISTJ career option since they are so good with facts and numbers. Their logical thinking and love for organization and structure can help them reach heights of success as financial analysts, budget analysts, job analysts, and more.

3. Computer Programmer

While it’s easy to imagine computer programmers as nerdy guys, hunched over a screen, typing their life away in dark rooms, the reality, however, is a bit different. Computer programmers help create and support today’s highly technical world, and they need to constantly interact with designers, developers, managers, and even customers to make sure their work is on the right track.

Despite all the necessary interactions, whenever they code, they are alone with their thoughts, a situation most ISTJs prefer. In addition, programming requires logical thinking, attention to detail, and patience, which are all the ISTJ personality traits.

This is not to say that ISTJs are the only ones who can choose this career path, but only that they are some of the best suited Myers-Briggs personalities for it. Each programming platform has a clear set of guidelines and a well-defined hierarchy that establishes who is in charge of what.

Lastly, this is a job that tests your patience and endurance in the long-term, which is why it takes the loyalty and reliability of an ISTJ to make it through.

4. Military Officer

Given their dutiful and dedicated nature, ISTJs can take on military positions. They feel at ease in orderly environments, with a clearly-defined hierarchy where everyone knows the rules and understands the urgency of completing their tasks. Moreover, the ISTJ type can follow instructions from a superior without questions and have no trouble implementing well-detailed plans.

We could also include other military or law enforcement positions in our ISTJ careers list since this is a highly structured environment with a healthy respect for traditions. Overall, an ISTJ enjoys being surrounded by like-minded people, which is why a military career would be a great option for them.

5. Dentist

Even though ISTJs can be successful in any medical career they choose, they tend to strive as dentists. This is a very demanding profession that requires great attention to detail, impeccable observational skills, and patience while working with a highly sensitive area of the human body.

As dentists, ISTJs would get to explore their desires to understand how things work and can make full use of their love for organization and planning. In addition, the job has some administrative tasks (especially if they have their own practice) which appeals to the ISTJs’ need for order.

Honorable Mentions

The ISTJ career list doesn’t end there, it is longer and more diverse, but those were the top five most common occupations for someone with the ISTJ personality traits. As a rule of thumb, the Archivist personality is comfortable with tasks that allow them to solve logical problems in an organized environment. They enjoy a quiet and well-structured workplace, with a clear hierarchy, and well-designed rules and regulations. Moreover, they need to be surrounded by like-minded people as they will be bothered by colleagues or superiors who don’t care about deadlines or the quality of work.

In an effort to reveal more about the ISTJ’s professional preferences, here are some more suggestions for a suitable career path:

  • Financial Manager
  • Insurance Underwriter
  • Labor Relations Specialist
  • Loan Officer
  • Logistician
  • Management Consultant or Analyst
  • Personal Financial Advisor
  • Tax Examiner or Collector or Revenue Agent
  • Actuary
  • Operations Research Analyst
  • Statistician
  • Financial Clerk
  • General Office Clerk
  • Information Clerk
  • Advertising and Promotions Manager
  • Architectural or Engineering Manager
  • Property, Real Estate, or Community Association Manager
  • Top Executive
  • Court Reporter
  • Judge or Hearing Officer
  • Lawyer
  • Paralegal or Legal Assistant
  • Computer and IS Manager
  • Network Architect
  • Support Specialist
  • Systems Analyst
  • Database Administrator
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Network or Computer Systems Administrator
  • Software Developer
  • Web Developer
  • Real Estate Broker or Sales Agent
  • Sales Engineer
  • Sales Manager
  • Airline or Commercial Pilot
  • Material Moving Machine Operator

ISTJ Careers to Avoid

The reason why the Myers-Briggs type indicator system is so successful is that it allows us to understand our own personality and preferences a little better. Armed with this information, we can start looking for the people, careers, and situations that better fit our needs in order to feel like we are in the right place.

Since we used the main ISTJ personality traits to make a list of the best career matches, we have also made one for ISTJ careers to avoid. Before we dive into the list, we would like to specify that an ISTJ (or any other MBTI type) can do these jobs and be happy about it. But, based on the general ISTJ profile, it is best to think twice before taking up the following occupations:

1. Artist

While there are some amazing ISTJ artists (check our article on famous ISTJs for more) this is not a line of work we would recommend for the regular ISTJ personality type. Creative pursuits are often too open-ended and lack clear structure and hierarchy, which can be quite irritating for an ISTJ.

Moreover, the Examiner is not as comfortable expressing emotions in public and may have a difficult time relating to an audience. They prefer logic over feelings and don’t like being in the spotlight.

2. Psychologist

The Examiner personality type often comes off as cold and calculated since they use logical thinking even in emotional situations. We are not saying ISTJs don’t have emotions or don’t care deeply about their loved ones; they just show affection in a different way. They tend to be annoyed by overly-emotional people and find it difficult to relate to other people’s feelings without some real context.

Therefore, ISTJs as psychologists may not be the best fit because they would have to accept that not everything is clear-cut and not everything can be solved by using logic and data. On the other hand, they would make for an awesome researcher in other fields, like neuroscience!

3. Event Manager

The life of an event manager is a constant struggle to keep up with changes and unexpected situations. Moreover, they always have to be in contact with new people, deal with people’s emotions and moods, and stay on top of any new challenge that awaits around the corner.

This is definitely not a life for someone with strong ISTJ personality traits. First of all, ISTJs don’t like change (even a career change stresses them out). Second, they are introverts who need time alone to process and work, so they would get easily burned out in a position where they have to be in constant contact with people.

Honorable Mentions

To summarize, the serious and reserved ISTJ doesn’t click with jobs that require spontaneity and creativity. Moreover, they would feel uncomfortable in an environment without a clear hierarchy and well-defined rules and regulations.

Therefore, while they could work in any field they choose, some occupations will bring their spirit down and leave them drained of energy and motivation. On that note, we’ve listed a few other ISTJ jobs to avoid:

  • Art Director
  • Craft Artist
  • Graphic Designer
  • Journalist
  • Musician
  • Recreation Worker
  • Restaurant Host
  • Retail Salesperson
  • Receptionist
  • Actor
  • Photographer
  • Cosmetologist
  • Bartender
  • Child Care Provider
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Public Relations Specialist

ISTJ College Majors

The Examiner personality type is strongly influenced by their dominant cognitive function – Introverted Sensing (Si). This function is all about preserving the so-called tried and true of the world. In simpler terms, ISTJs value traditions and rely on facts and statistics to make their decisions.

Therefore, when deciding on a career path or a college major, they tend to lean towards more traditional paths. For instance, Teaching or Education can be a favorite college major for ISTJs as it involves the passing of knowledge and tradition by following specific rules and structures. A similar thought process pushes ISTJs into administrative jobs or ministries, where they can help preserve the traditional way of doing things.

Another favorite on the list of ISTJ majors is Finance. Since they are wired to respect and follow rules and regulations, a career in Finance suits the reserved and serious ISTJ. In addition, they are detail-oriented and organized, which are fantastic skills to have in the world of Finance. Lastly, due to their amazing memory and observational skills, they can also handle a Pre-Dental major or anything Pre-Medical.

If you’re an ISTJ and none of these majors look appealing here are several other college majors that may work for you:

  • Accounting
  • Architecture
  • Biology
  • Business Administration
  • Computer Science
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Construction Management
  • Criminal Justice and Criminology
  • Earth Science
  • Exercise Science
  • Health Science
  • Industrial Technology
  • Information Systems
  • Journalism
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Legal Studies
  • Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Medical Technology
  • Natural Resources and Environmental Management
  • Pre-Law
  • Risk Management and Insurance