So you took a Briggs-Myers personality test and discovered that you have an INTP type personality. Congrats! You are, like me, a fairly rare breed. Around only 3% of the people in the US have an INTP personality. It isn’t the rarest type, but it’s not every day you’ll meet someone like yourself.
But, what careers are best suited for INTP types? We’ll start with an explanation of the INTP personality type, INTP strengths and weaknesses, and end with career ideas and tips.
What Does INTP Mean?
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INTP is one of 16 different four-letter personality types that the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) scale uses. The MBTI was created by the mother-daughter duo of Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers partly as a product of WWII. It was published around 1944 and has heavy ties to the work of Carl G Jung.
INTP stands for Introversion, iNtuition, Thinking, and Perceiving. These descriptors aren’t always as on the nose as they sound, so let’s break them down.
Introverted doesn’t mean you don’t like being around people (though you might). It’s more about how you recharge your mental batteries, or what gives you energy in life. According to the source, if you’re introverted, you could say this about yourself:
“I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world.”
While these individuals may not mind or enjoy being a member of a team, they are comfortable being alone. In fact, they may find that being with other people can be exhausting, and having time to themselves is refreshing. In addition, introverts tend to have a small and tight-knit group of close friends, rather than a broad friend group.
Intuition is a little harder to define, and it becomes clearer when it’s compared to its opposite: Sensing. People that are Sensing tend to focus on the immediate reality of things; the look, feel, and even scent of the world around them. They tend to be experiential, visual, and hands-on learners.
Intuition, on the other hand, describes those that read between the lines. They are more concerned with the resulting pattern, meaning, or abstraction of the sensory information around them. People described as intuitive can learn by reading something in a textbook, and tend to work better with metaphors; looking at the big picture.
Falling in the Thinking category means you tend to value or use thinking logic over emotional logic. In fact, INTP personalities are also referred to us ‘logicians.’ When making a decision a Thinking person weighs pros and cons, then picks the most logical solution. This decision isn’t necessarily Spock-like and devoid of feeling. However, straight facts are the primary factors used and one’s own emotions and the emotions of others are just a consideration.
Perceiving is also a little difficult to pin down. Essentially, this category has to do with how others see you, and how you interact with the world. Perceiving people tend to be flexible and go with the flow. They’re often less organized, maybe even a little messy. Their creativity comes in bursts, and they sometimes (maybe all the time) find themselves rushing to meet deadlines.
As a complete type, people with INTP personalities tend to be creative and logical, if a little lost in their own head at times. INTPs are often compared to absent-minded professors, and to that point, the image of Albert Einstein comes to mind. The German theoretical physicist had an INTP type personality.
If you’re an INTP, then you probably tend to think big picture but miss small details. You focus on theories and abstract ideas, and love to analyze complex problems (especially if you have an interest in them). Overthinking is a common habit. You may have trouble focusing if you’re doing something you don’t like or there’s something else you’d rather be working on.
INTPs have a lot of useful traits:
- Logical and big picture – Having the ability to look at many working pieces and see a whole machine. Can apply straight logic to situations.
- Analytical and honest – Able to examine concepts, products, and even beliefs. Can produce a straightforward and unbiased analysis, whether the result is positive or negative.
- Creative and open-minded – Loving new ideas almost as much as coming up with new ideas.
- Passionate and awed – Having an interest in discovering new things or finding results, and willing to pursue an interest deeply.
INTPs have just as many weaknesses, at least in a traditional environment:
- Difficulty focusing and sticking to one idea – Often jumping from idea to idea. They follow inspiration rather than holding down a single idea, and have more ideas than they can hold on to.
- Critical, insensitive, and condescending – Focusing on only the facts and missing the emotion. They often deliver criticism because it makes sense before considering the emotional impact, and expect others to see it the same way. This criticism is also often complex or high-minded and comes across as condescending.
- Self-doubting and unconventional – Tending to break the rules in favor of creativity, but also doubting final products and often revising work.
- Inconsistency and messiness – Working better in bursts and when creativity strikes, often in an unorganized way.
Many people find the results of their personality test (like the free one found here) surprisingly accurate. It’s good to remember that personality tests, in general, describe us, but do not define us. These tests—like this guide—are simply suggestions and should be taken as such. Just because we are both INTP doesn’t mean we will be successful in the same career field. It just means we tend to think similarly.
Now with that out of the way, let’s take a look at careers well suited for INTP personality types.
INTP-A vs INTP-T
Within the INTP personality we find two distinctive subtypes: Assertive Logicians (INTP-A) and Turbulent Logicians (INTP-B). They differ in a variety of areas, including their outlook on life and how they deal and perceive consistency and change.
For example, according to 16Personalities, NTP-As are more consistent than their Turbulent counterpart. NTP-As have more confidence in their decisions and are less affected by others’ opinions. On the other hand, INTP-Bs tend to change their goals more often. This can make them more flexible problem-solvers (although they run the risk of being too flexible).
As an INTP you’re probably a bit of an innovator, independent, and a little rule averse. There’s a good chance you’re not a fan of small talk, and a social career doesn’t sound fun. You likely have strong critical and analytical skills, along with a creative streak. Also, if you’re like me, you enjoy coming up with ideas more than actually implementing them.
Best INTP Tech Careers
Each position is unique, as every company has a different structure and business methodology. However, tech jobs can be some of the best for INTP type personalities. Many tech occupations allow remote work from home. This means employees don’t have to chat with people every day and there in no one constantly looking over their shoulder.
In tech careers, planning and solid infrastructure are key. You may find programming is one of the most incredible mixtures of both creativity and logical structure.
Here are some positions that you might find interesting:
Software engineer is a broad term for those that create software programs, often used interchangeably with software developers (though they are different). Different positions with this title can have different responsibilities. However, getting to plan, design, code, and debug software can be really appealing. As an added bonus, software engineers make around $90k per year.
Data Analyst/Data Scientist
If you are pretty good with science, analytics, and numbers in general, then a career in data science analytics might be for you. These professionals require more education, but they get to create their own algorithms instead of using existing ones. Data scientists make an average salary well over six figures.
This is a difficult to obtain yet highly sought-after position, but it also happens to be perfect for many INTP personalities. You’d get to design with broad strokes, coming up with systems and gameplay mechanics. Other professionals (although sometimes yourself) are responsible for implementing your design. On average, however, they make a little under $60k.
While this isn’t a complete list, it contains some of the major technology careers for INTPs. While some technology career paths require higher education, many don’t. The skills required can be obtained from a faster and less expensive coding bootcamp or from self-study. There are outstanding data science bootcamps, data analytics bootcamps, and even product management bootcamps. Many hiring managers in the tech field care more about your skills than your qualifications.
Engineering/Science Careers for INTP Types
You may have a more technical leaning without being a fan of computers. If this is the case, you may be more interested in a science or engineering career. Exploring and understanding the world and how it works is appealing to many INTP personalities. Designing things while keeping natural laws in mind is also satisfying. However, the attention to detail and near perfection required for these jobs may make them less suitable choices.
Here are specific careers in the science and engineering fields:
Designing things that fly, sometimes into orbit, is a pretty exciting field. This is a field that requires strong design and a deep understanding of physics and its practical applications. This will appeal to those with a penchant for innovative and technical design. Aerospace engineers earn around $80k yearly.
If you happen to have the stomach for seeing some less than pleasant things, then forensic science might be for you. You’ll help solve crimes from the safety of a lab or a crime scene. It’s like solving a puzzle but the puzzle pieces are made out of blood. Forensic scientists make around $60k a year on average.
If you’ve never thought about being an architect then you’re probably at the end of a bell curve. Being able to both create something artistically beautiful and structurally functional is right up the INTP alley. You get to make amazing designs without ever having to build them yourself. Architects bring home around $70k yearly.
Other Careers for INTP Types
So none of the above work for you. Maybe science seems like too much work, or you’re not a fan of computers. That’s ok, there are plenty more jobs that appeal to INTP personalities. Here are just a few more ideas:
If talking to people is something you enjoy (yes some of us do), then consider journalism. Many people with an INTP personality find writing enjoyable. They like getting to the bottom of a story or finding an interesting lead. Journalists make around $40k per year.
Many INTP types have trouble communicating, so some would assume a job in advertising would be bad. However, having trouble communicating something in person doesn’t mean you can’t or don’t understand how people think, which is at the core of advertising. Creative directors are the art-brain behind adverts and brand campaigns, which involves creativity as much as it does tactical thinking. Also, they bring home around $125k a year, which might also be important to you.
Not everyone can go to school for 12 years or attend college. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a satisfying ‘normal’ job. Electricians need to be good at troubleshooting and design. They have to solve minor engineering mysteries daily. Mechanics work with some of the most complicated machines in common use, finding and fixing broken components. Electricians earn a little under $50k a year, and mechanics a little under $40k. However, this figures change quite a bit depending on where you live and your local union.
Here’s a list of the 9 best INTP Careers that will make the best use of your unique skills:
- Software Engineer
- Data Analyst/Data Scientist
- Game Designer
- Aerospace Engineer
- Forensic Scientist
- Creative Director
This list, like personality types, is just a suggestion. If your dream is to be a pilot, a sword fighter, or a doula, don’t let this article stop you. Hopefully, whatever you find will stimulate your brain and let you loose on the world to make/discover some amazing things.