While the terms introvert and extrovert may have been in use prior to his work, it was Austrian psychological pioneer Carl Jung who brought them to the forefront of the public consciousness. While his theories encompassed many aspects of human consciousness, his introversion/extraversion dichotomy was central to his thinking, as the former refers to an internal experience or phenomenon and the latter indicates things outside of a person.
In more recent years, the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Inventory arose to expand on Jung's work and offered a diagnostic tool that added a bit of depth and detail to his work. When the test and variants hit the internet, everyone with a connection could take the test themselves and discover more about their personalities. Once armed with the results of their MBTI, students and workers can begin to tailor their job search to discover the best job for them. While extroverts can benefit from similar guidance, this page is for the introverts among us.
Tools to Help You Get the Job
For whatever the reason, introverts often get a bad name. They are considered shy, timid, reclusive, and anti-social. However, everyone surely knows more than one introvert who can be the veritable life of the party. This is because there's a fundamental misunderstanding of what makes someone an introvert.
Rather than indicating any sort of social phobia, the labels introversion/extroversion reflect how people generate and use their energy. In the case of an introvert, they may love being at parties and even the center of attention, but when the party is over their energies are depleted. That's when they might prefer to be at home with a cup of tea and a book. Extroverts, on the other hand are energized by external interactions and are likely restless and frustrated when home alone. Introverts may externalize this by only attending smaller functions, with close friends who don’t wear them out as much as socializing with near strangers.
Still, introverts tend to have a rich inner life that fosters creativity and introspection. They also may tend to prefer to take a more quiet, subdued role than their noisy extroverted friends. This doesn’t mean that they contribute less to a work environment, only that they do it without all the hubbub. While those externally motivated folks are leaping ahead into situations, introverts are taking their time, observing, and making considered choices. Thus, they prefer to maintain a small group of intimate friends rather than taking on a large and bustling social life and they tend to be background supporters in a company rather than the face or presenter for a group.
When introverts seek out employment, they tend to seek out positions which involve thoughtful analysis in quieter environments, where they can express themselves more easily. For this reason, fields such as engineering, editing, counseling, programming, academia, and the arts tend to appeal to introverts. Even some corners of law, politics, or marketing might appeal to introverts.
Since introverts' energies are at their peak when they are left alone or with minimal interaction, they thrive in more project-oriented work environments, which require fewer meetings. For this reason, many introverts are found in fields like journalism. That may seem counter-intuitive, but these positions require that professionals interact with a few subjects, spend long hours doing research, and then write up their reports for publication. They might find a similar position with a public policy research firm or as freelance writers or editors.
Introverts need to be careful when they seek employment. There are certain positions that are less kind to these who are internally-oriented people. They tend to do less well in positions that are public-facing, and which involve a great deal of interaction with others, especially larger groups. Thus, red flag issues for introverts might include a workplace that features frequent meetings, rewards aggressiveness, and which emphasizes collaborative projects over individual efforts.
Introverts also tend to do less well in offices with open environments. Introverts tend to enjoy having an environment where they can step away when they need to, so they may soon burn out in a phone sales position where they sit around a table with other workers all day and speak to strangers on the phone. However, they may do well in a similar job if they could have a bit of privacy and a more controlled environment.
Since introverts prefer to observe before venturing out into a social or other situation, a position that commonly asks for them to improvise and act impulsively might also be a recipe for disaster. Thus, an introvert might even do well as a trial attorney where they are able to prepare and even rehearse their performances. With that said, they would be more likely to thrive in a practice that focused on non-courtroom procedures, such as a real estate closing practice or a family law practice that specialized in wills and trusts. Of course, an introvert can do well in any position if they understand their needs and are able to shift their environment to match them, it’s simply that this is much more difficult in some situations than it is in others.
Introverts are some of the best employees and they can help their firms rise above the pack with innovations, exciting new products, and bold new approaches. Since they like to observe, analyze, and process various problems, their contributions can include some startling revelations that their ever-externally focused, extroverted co-workers cannot match. It should be noted that introverts should not be constantly interrupted while they are doing their work. Excessive oversight, perhaps in the form of a micro-managing supervisor, will only stymie their process. Since each introvert is likely to have a highly individualized process, interlopers to their world are likely to be confused by what they are presented with if they insist on intervening mid-flow. As with sausage, it's best to wait until an introvert is ready to present their work than to peek in before the work is done.
While they may seem diametrically opposed, introverts and extroverts can indeed work very well together. Introverts are able to assess situations and provide insights to their extroverted co-workers which may help them land a deal, win a case, or make a sale. Each must simply understand their own strengths and weaknesses, and those of their fellow employees.
Introverts, like most people, seek a career path that best suits their specific personalities. They often prefer positions and careers that allow them to indulge in their preference for working alone, or at least without constant supervision, and relying on their inner strengths. Introverts should also investigate new job prospects to check for specific management styles, such as micro-management or an emphasis on collaborative work, as these might be detrimental to their overall enjoyment of their work.
The list below details several of the best jobs for introverts. This list can be used as specific advice or as a guidepost for introverts who are trying to figure out what path to take and feeling a bit overwhelmed. Since introverts like to consider before they leap into something, this list should be a terrific kicking off point. However, for those who are still unsure, it might be useful to take a personality test such as the Myers-Briggs, which will elaborate on their specific personality. Some introverts tend to be more analytical, while others are more creative. A personality test could help clarify where a person's specific strengths lie.
Accounting is a great career for an introvert. The job primarily involves hours of intensive work on the computer. The field offers a wide range of career paths, starting with accounting clerks and bookkeepers all the way up to the lauded CPA. In between are risk managers, auditors, fraud specialists, accounting system experts, and managerial accountants. Each of these professionals spend long hours analyzing Excel spreadsheets, reviewing tax law, or seeking the information they need to complete their work.
Accountants who pass the CPA examination and have their state licensure are able to sign tax return documents and are considered some of the more valuable members of the business community. Many introverts may appreciate that CPAs are able to work as independent businesspeople, though many also expand their practice into full-fledged accounting firms with multiple CPAs, bookkeepers, and support staff.
Accountants and auditors are known to earn healthy salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the profession earns a median salary of $70,000 per year. Meanwhile, bookkeepers and accounting clerks report a median salary of $41,000. Note that CPAs often become investment bankers, consultants, or chief financial officers (CFOs) where their salaries can rocket well into six figures.
Introverts make excellent writers and editors. This is mainly because these careers offer them the opportunity to venture into the world, collect information, and then craft a piece of writing based on their research. Editors also spend a great deal of time working in solitude. Editors may not write articles themselves but receive writing and analyze it for issues related to grammar and style. Editors also frequently assign topics to their writers based on what their publication needs.
Note that there are many different types of writers and editors. Some specialize in medicine and spend a great deal of time editing work for doctors or pharmaceutical companies. Others focus on travel writing and do their research by flying to global destinations. There are also positions available in journalism and the technical writing sphere. Writers also can work on a freelance basis and take or leave assignments based on their personal preference.
Writers and authors can earn a substantial salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that they have a median annual salary of $63,000. In related fields, editors report median earnings of $61,000 and technical writers outstrip them both with a median salary of $73,000. Writers and editors are also found in fields such as content creation and management, fields that report similar paychecks.
Information technology (IT) is a field that is typically considered to be dominated by introverts. While their extroverted friends also find niches where they flourish in the field, an introverted disposition is particularly well-suited to tasks such as programming and software development. Introverts may also like how this field features a minimum of staff meetings and even collaborations may not require you to be in the same room constantly or increase the level of supervision you work under. For the most part, IT professionals work on their own and report their accomplishments to their higher-ups for review and discussion.
There are many specific paths an introvert can take under the broad umbrella of IT. Some can pursue healthcare informatics, for instance, while others can delve into database management, cyber security, management information systems, or network administration. Each of these paths has its own demands, so introverts should look at each carefully to determine if they have the skills or desire to pursue that area. Regardless, any IT career is sure to pay well and offer a lifetime of rewards.
For instance, the BLS reports that database administrators earn a median salary of $93,000. Programmers have a median salary of $86,000 and software developers break the six-figure barrier with median earnings of $107,000. However, leading the entire pack of IT professionals are the information system managers who earn $146,000 before bonus, benefits, and other compensation.
Engineering encompasses a broad class of careers that are perfect for introverts. The field demands an acute attention to detail, rigorous analytical work, and a dedication to problem solving. Engineers may work on teams, but they are often in a class to themselves, offering pointers and overseeing projects that they have generated with their skills and talents.
Engineers can specialize to become a marine engineer, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, automotive engineer, or civil engineer. The direction a person takes will largely depend on the types of challenge they are interested in or the vision they have for themselves. Nevertheless, most engineers will spend much of their time slaving over drafting tables or working with computer-aided design (CAD) software.
The engineering field tends to pay quite well, but there is also a wide spectrum of salaries. At one end are the civil engineering technicians, who work with associate degrees. The BLS reports these technicians as earning a median wage of $53,000. The other end of the spectrum is the domain of petroleum engineers who report median earnings over $145,000. Most other engineering fields report median earnings somewhere between $60,000 and $90,000. Note that those with a bachelor's degree tend to earn closer to $90k than those with an associate degree.
Medical technician or assistant careers includes professionals who have been specifically trained to work with technologies such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, computerized tomography (CAT Scan) machines, or other imaging technology. These careers are designed to help doctors and other licensed healthcare professionals make proper diagnostic or therapeutic decisions for their patients. This category even includes veterinary technologists, who assist their vets with patient intake, examinations, and surgeries.
This is a rather broad employment category, but the BLS shows that radiologic and MRI technologists earn a median salary of around $62,000 per year. Other diagnostic technicians, such as sonographers, earn a bit more at $69,000 and vet techs earn closer to $35,000. At the top of the field are the radiation therapists who take home paychecks that add up to $85,000 per annum. Clinical lab technicians, who are considered to be in a related field, earn $53,000.
Contracting, and occupations in the building trades, are also great for introverts who prefer to work independently. These professionals can work on large building crews that construct apartment complexes, for instance, or they might work as independent contractors. Independents tend to take smaller jobs and operate with smaller crews that range from one to five workers, depending on the job.
This work often involves working with a homeowner or perhaps a property manager to determine the best course of action for a repair, renovation, or total rehabilitation of a structure. For those on larger crews, they may consult with an architect or construction manager to determine the precise materials needed and the placement of those items. An electrical contractor, for instance, will review the plans for a building to learn where to place the electrical panel, how to organize the circuits, and where and how many electrical devices are necessary for the job.
The specific area a person chooses to pursue will make a large difference in the size of their paycheck. The BLS groups these professions under the banner of construction and extraction occupations and shows that elevator and escalator installation and repair pays the best, with professionals earning nearly $85,000 in median pay. Meanwhile, carpenters earn a median annual wage of $48,000 and electricians earn around $56,000.