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Best and Worst ISTP Careers

Let’s be honest — being at work sometimes brings out the worst in us. And it doesn’t matter if you hate your job or if you’re satisfied with it. There are moments where you feel like you can’t handle it anymore. If you’ve ever found yourself constrained by boundaries and restrictions at work, then congratulations, you’re a classical case of a 21st century worker! But if you feel like you’d rather jump off a bridge than do what you’re told, then there’s a good chance you’re an ISTP (or depressed… I say with a little ISTP humor. But seriously, take care of yourself!).

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

In this article, we’ve collected the best (and worst) careers for an ISTP. Additionally, we put together a list of college majors that ISTPs might enjoy.

ISTPs at Work

There’s no one who appreciates their freedom more than the energetic ISTP. And if you are one, then you know better than anyone that it’s hard to find the perfect job. One that allows you to be expressive in your own way, and that doesn’t interfere with your principles. That doesn’t mean that ISTPs are not good employees. Not at all. But it’s important for them to feel comfortable at their workplace. When they can achieve that comfort, they can outperform anyone!

However, finding that one fulfilling position isn’t easy, especially for the independent ISTP. Maybe you’re an ISTP who feels stuck at their job and is considering a career change. Or perhaps you’re still wandering around after college, unsure where to go. In any case, you’ll find this article useful, so buckle up because we’ve created a list of the best (and worst) careers for an ISTP person.

ISTP Career Matches

Also known as The Tinkerer, ISTPs are energetic, optimistic, and enthusiastic. Their curiosity is directed toward figuring out how things work, and they’re good at working with their hands. Their practical nature allows them to stay objective, and they learn things best by doing them. These qualities are often projected in the workplace as well. They can handle pressure, so even if they’re exposed to stressful situations their performance is unaffected.

Much like every other personality type, ISTPs also have a dark side if found out of balance. If they feel like their freedom has been threatened, they can be insensitive and even engage in risky behaviors. They have their own beliefs, which they stick to regardless of the consequences, even being described as insensitive when it comes to validating others’ opinions. But even when that happens, they try to stay objective. Their ability to adapt helps them to overcome their differences with others.

However, finding a job that matches The Tinkerer’s idea of job gratification is not as hard as it sounds; they’re also one of the most flexible personality types. There’s a diversity of directions they can follow. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the best careers for the ISTP.

1. Engineering

Engineering is arguably the perfect direction for an ISTP to follow. For instance, mechanical engineering is one of the most versatile engineering fields, focusing on systems in motion. And, as already mentioned, ISTPs enjoy hands-on jobs and like to experiment. The logic of how everything works together just clicks for them and they’re born problem solvers. Being a mechanical engineer not only gives them the freedom to express their creativity but also allows them to feed their curiosity on practical matters.

Computer hardware engineering is also a fantastic career path for an ISTP. Some of them like to reassemble things just so they can put them back together again (if only Humpty had had a few in his entourage!). Having such an active nature makes them great at computer hardware jobs. They perform their best when they engage in dynamic work environments. The fast-paced computer hardware industry is always changing, with new technologies being invented faster than they can even be implemented. This allows the energetic ISTP engineer to feed their curiosity, preventing possible feelings of monotony.

2. Military

Based on what you’ve already heard about ISTPs, you’re probably wondering if being in the military doesn’t interfere with their nature. Well, it’s true that they’re not the best at following rules. And it’s true they’re not the most organized personality type. But contrary to common expectations, taking a position in the military could actually be beneficial for the ISTP person.

Following a career path in the military creates a good environment to learn a lot about oneself and to push the limits of what’s considered impossible. The best version of an ISTP is to be self-aware due to their ability to stay objective and realistic. And if that’s the case they would want to overcome their ego. Realizing that there’s a greater context — outside of their own internal world — is an effective stepping stone for personal growth.

3. Firefighter

Being a firefighter involves responding to emergencies where life, environment, and property are in danger and literally (drumroll please!) putting out the fire. Firefighters must be physically and mentally suitable to handle stress and crises. And that’s only one of the reasons why ISTPs make great firefighters. It’s well known that ISTPs feel their best when they’re challenged and put in risky situations. They’re action-oriented and enjoy being at the epicenter of things. Also, they’re most suitable at jobs where they do something and get instant results.

Firefighting is a noble and responsible profession. However, feeling like they belong to a greater cause is not a leading power in the ISTP’s life. They’re more focused on their internal world rather than the outside one. But it does bring them a sense of satisfaction when they’re not obliged to follow a certain schedule especially when their working environment is dynamic and unpredictable. So in the end, although they’re not driven by a sense of purpose, they can choose to project their energy in a positive direction. Even if it involves helping people’s cats get off trees twenty times a week.

4. Lawyer

Lawyers advise and represent people on legal issues and can be both advocates and advisors. Being a lawyer is a straightforward profession and it doesn’t involve abstract subjects, which is one of ISTPs’ weaknesses. ISTPs make fantastic lawyers due to their ability to stay objective and to look at things realistically and practically. As a personality type, the ISTP person likes specific information with practical application. And once they see results they feel extra engaged to push on.

But being a lawyer can be challenging for an ISTP. This personality type likes movement and doesn’t appreciate static, monotonous professions. Also, lawyers must be very disciplined and structured which doesn’t fit within the ISTP idea of a perfect working environment. However, the law is a broad concept where anyone can find their jam. People that practice law confront both theoretical and practical matters. But there are many directions that one can follow and it’s up to the person to customize their career based on their preferences.

5. Dentist

It’s not surprising that ISTPs are also called the ‘craftsmen.’ Out of all the Myers-Briggs personality types, ISTPs are the best at working with their hands. They like crafts and enjoy fixing things. For this reason, ISTPs make great dentists — the profession is straightforward, has a physical movement involved, and requires the specialists to work alone. They can direct their energy toward fixing their patients’ teeth and they can get even more motivated if there’s a challenging case to solve. Although being a dentist is not the most exciting doctorate one can do, it can bring a sense of satisfaction to the ISTP.

6. Leadership

ISTPs value their time and perform best when they make their own schedule. They don’t like following orders and they can’t be forced into someone else’s philosophy. This is why they make great leaders. They have a strong sense of self and a developed belief system. ISTPs can be fantastic managers and they’re the perfect example of a flexible hands-off modern leader. They’re practical and concrete in their approach and expect their employees to be as independent as themselves.

Here are some more suggestions for a suitable ISTP career path:

  • Audiovisual Specialist
  • Banker
  • Carpenter
  • Computer Programmer
  • Corporate Executive
  • Criminal Investigator
  • Emergency Room Physician
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Information Services
  • Mechanic
  • Pilot
  • Driver
  • Photographer
  • Private Investigator
  • Software Engineer
  • Economist
  • Leadership Positions
  • Jeweler
  • Stockbroker
  • Systems Analyst
  • Electrical Technician
  • Project Manager
  • Surveyor
  • Exercise Physiologist

ISTP Careers to Avoid

The ISTP personality is one of the most adaptable MBTI personality types, and that flexibility is one of their greatest advantages. However, their occupation must be chosen based on their strengths and take into account their weaknesses. Because when an ISTP is dissatisfied with their job, they can engage in irrational behavior. That not only affects their performance in the workplace but can also have a negative impact on their mental health in general.

ISTPs are introverts, and as such they find it challenging to engage in professions that include extensive amounts of social interaction. As a personality, they are optimistic and energetic, but those qualities are directed towards their inside world. And sometimes it’s hard for them to validate others’ emotions, feelings, and opinions.

For this reason, there are some careers that an ISTP person should avoid, and we’ve managed to collect them and put them all together. Here’s a list of some of the job positions that an ISTP person should dodge in order to feel fulfilled in their professional career.

1. Psychologist

Although psychologists are quite analytical — which is one of the strongest ISTP personality traits — this profession brings more challenges than benefits for the ‘Craftsman’ personality type. Having to comfort people, considering their emotions rather than facts, is the most unpleasant thing for an ISTP to deal with. Especially when they have to do it for a living.

ISTPs like to concentrate on the current moment as well as the future. Talking to people about the effects of past situations on their emotional state is a literal nightmare for ISTPs. That’s why they’ve often been described as insensitive, and it’s hard for them to overcome their own opinions.

ISTPs like movement and it’s good for them to be physically challenged in the workplace as well. Also, they like tangibility and to touch and see the result of their actions. In clinical psychology, everything is relative and subjective which leads to job dissatisfaction for the ISTP psychologist. For this reason, psychology isn’t a great career path for an ISTP to follow.

Nevertheless, being a psychologist doesn’t always mean you must interact with people and solve their personal problems. It’s completely possible for an ISTP to be interested in the human mind. And research psychology is a great way for them to find value in it. That’s the field in psychology where the scientists’ methodology revolves around understanding human behavior and thought. For the Tinkerers out there it could be a fantastic way to embrace their ISTP interest in figuring things out. They just have to steer their path carefully.

2. Writer

Some ISTPs make good writers – it’s sort of like solving a riddle for them and they do like solving puzzles. However, in most cases, ISTPs are recommended to follow professions that don’t involve such static activities. It’s a bad idea for them to sit behind a desk and stare at a computer all day. Especially if that doesn’t result in any tangible final product (like with engineering, for example). So they need to be somehow stimulated and challenged physically in order to feel satisfied with what they’re doing for a living.

That doesn’t mean that ISTPs are bad writers. They have a lot of potential, and if they make it their mission to succeed most of the time they do. They’re great at writing short stories and articles. Look at Ernest Hemingway for example (check out our ISTP famous people article for more!). He was also an ISTP and was a great journalist. Later on, he decided to take the path of a novelist which is rare for an ISTP. But he managed to pull it off and now he’s well known in his field. However, when an ISTP person is considering following a career path that involves writing they should know that it could be challenging for them.

3. Customer service

Putting an introvert in customer service rarely leads to anything good. Especially if you’re an honest and direct person like the Tinkerer. In an industry where the customer is always right, you have to be quite careful with how you’re delivering information. And ISTPs are not known for their patience and calm. They’re restless, and often feel stuck in customer service jobs. They prefer to work on their own and they hate motionless activities. For this reason, ISTPs are not a great match for customer service jobs. Even if they’re not terrible at doing their job, they don’t find any fulfillment in doing it.

ISTPs might be very ambitious and they’re good at many things. But they must select their career path based on their strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a list of careers that an ISTP person should avoid:

  • Clergy
  • Receptionist
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Market Research
  • Actor
  • Social Worker
  • Entrepreneur
  • Reporter
  • Journalist
  • Urban Planner
  • Market Researcher
  • Special Education Teacher
  • Social Service Director
  • Receptionist
  • Public Health Nurse
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Family Physician
  • Pediatrician
  • Veterinary Technician

ISTP College Majors

Although ISTPs are naturally curious, they’re not the best at staying consistent. They lose focus easily if they’re not engaged in their task. For this reason, they must be careful when choosing their college major. It’s important for them to make the right choice since it affects their career path after graduation. However, they’re naturally curious and there’s a variety of majors that fit their personality type.

Given their need to fix problems and to solve riddles, they might be interested in criminology, for example. ISTPs enjoy figuring things out. It keeps them on the edge which is an emotion they feed on. In criminology, one has to look at things objectively and not be biased. ISTPs have the ability to look at the situation realistically, which makes them perfect for such a major.

Another fantastic choice for an ISTP major is engineering. Majoring in engineering is the first milestone of becoming an engineer and as we already mentioned it’s a great path for ISTPs to follow. The same goes for a computer science major as well as pre-dental. There are many paths that an ISTP can follow but the most important thing is to stay consistent. Here’s a list with some more suggestions for majors that would suit an ISTP:

  • Art
  • Athletic Training
  • Biology
  • Business Administration
  • Business Information Technology
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Computer Science
  • Construction Management
  • Criminal Justice and Criminology
  • Economics
  • Exercise Science
  • Finance
  • Geology
  • Health Science
  • Industrial Technology
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Legal Studies
  • Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Manufacturing Engineering Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering Technology
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Medical Technology
  • Natural Resources and Environmental Management
  • Physical Education
  • Pre-Law
  • Pre-Medical
  • Risk Management and Insurance
  • Telecommunications
  • Theatre