INTJ Careers, Jobs, & Majors

By Dr. A.J. Drenth

INTJs seek a career that utilizes their unique gifts and abilities. Settling for mediocre or mundane work is not an option for this type. Fortunately, INTJ career-seekers have a number of good career choices available to them. They may take up work as scientists, engineers, scholars, computer systems analysts, attorneys, architects, etc.

INTJs tend to enjoy the role of change agent or reformer. Their Introverted Intuition (Ni) is adept at formulating grand visions, while their Extraverted Thinking (Te) serves up plans for implementation. Their drive for change and reform may find an outlet in any number of fields—from politics, to business, to education, and so on.

Like like ISTJ and ENTJ career-seekers, INTJs can generally better tolerate structured work environments (particularly those that are well-designed and effectively managed) than INTPs can. Their willingness to function as part of a larger system opens vocational doors that seem forever closed to INTP career-seekers. Due to their ability to work with and within Te systems, INTJs can carve out a niche for themselves in a variety of settings, capitalizing on their analytic, strategic, and visionary powers. In organizations where promotions are based on competence rather than on politics or popularity, INTJs can quickly make their way to the top. They can be easily frustrated by situations where organizational politics or red tape stifle opportunities for real change or advancement.

INTJ Career, Professor

INTJ Career, Professor

Like INFJs, the disparity between their idealistic visions and the recalcitrance of reality is one of INTJs’ greatest frustrations. This may be one reason why INTJs may opt for academic or creative careers, allowing them to focus on abstract pursuits sans the difficulties of real-world implementation. In fact, INTJ is by far the most common personality type among university faculty. Academic positions can be satisfying to INTJs because, unlike INPs, they don’t mind focusing their interests on a relatively small chunk of reality. This is understandable in light of their functional stack, which begins with an Ni intuition and converges toward exacting Te analysis.

INTJ Holland Career Code/Interests

To orient our discussion of INTJ career interests, we will now draw on six interest themes described by John Holland and the Strong Interest Inventory. The Holland career interest themes include the Realistic (R), Investigative (I), Artistic (A), Social (S), Enterprising (E), and Conventional (C) domains, collectively known as “RIASEC.” After identifying one’s preferred interest domains, these letters can be combined in a way similar to the personality types to form a multi-letter “Holland Code” (e.g., IAS, RAI). This can help individuals identify their best career match.

Individuals with Realistic interests enjoy physical, hands-on work, often involving machines (e.g., repairing vehicles, tinkering with computers, construction). They may take up careers such as computer science, engineering, the physical sciences, architecture, or construction. They are often visual or kinesthetic learners, commonly excelling in what is known as spatial visualization. Those with strong spatial-visualization abilities often do well with schematic charts and diagrams, as well as envisioning and mentally rotating three-dimensional objects. As I’ve discussed elsewhere, INTJs’ dominant function, Ni, often has a strong visual component. This may make INTJs especially gifted when it comes to work involving visuospatial intelligence. Because of the holistic and visual nature of Ni, INTJs often exceil in higher-level mathematics that require more theory, visualization, and imagination.

Realistics enjoy working with “things” more than people. It is therefore unsurprising that this interest domain is correlated with a preference for Thinking over Feeling. Research suggests that S, T, and P types are somewhat more drawn to Realistic work than are N, F, and J types. While rarely interested in exclusively Realistic work, such as construction, INTJs commonly pursue careers that combine Realistic with Investigative interests. Science, computers, technology, and architecture, to name a few, may all have Realistic features and can be a good fit for INTJs. As long as the work is not too mundane or disconnected from theory, INTJs can find satisfaction in these sorts of fields.

The Investigative domain incorporates analytic, scientific, and academic interests. Investigative types enjoy working with ideas, theories, facts, or data. They generally perform well on the mathematics portion of aptitude tests. Those with interests in the physical sciences or mathematics will often pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, computer science, etc. Those interested in investigating “things” will generally have a Holland code of IR (Investigative-Realistic).

While IRs may gravitate to the “hard sciences” (e.g., physics), INTJs with Investigative-Artistic (IA) interests may be drawn to the social sciences (history, economics, psychology, sociology, geography, anthropology, archeology, political science, etc.). IAs are often intrigued by psychological or sociocultural issues and may study the social sciences, philosophy, critical theory, or investigative journalism. They might also take up non-fiction writing. INTJs seem equally well-equipped to excel in either IR or IA careers. What direction they go may depend on the strength of their verbal (IA) versus non-verbal/spatiovisual skills (IR).

(This Personality Junkie post is continued on the next page.)

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Comments

  1. Marc Anthony says

    Thanks for the great article! Could I get your opinion on my situation?

    I am recently laid-off computer engineer who has failed to secure another engineering position. But, I worry that engineering is my way of pleasing my inferior function (extroverted-sensing). I originally abandoned physics for engineering for material purposes (salary, prestige, etc.).

    Now, I’m unsure what to do. Do I return to pursue physics for the sake of intellectual pursuits or return to engineering for the sake of a comfortable lifestyle? I don’t want to enter an unsustainable scenario. I must also say my passion is making comics and I previously used my engineering salary to fund self-publishing.

    What would you recommend? Are there specific questions I must ask myself to help me make the right decision? Please help.

    Thanks! – Marc

  2. Pa says

    Oh my gosh this is soooo me.

    I’m INTJ.

    Always had a creative side my whole life. Kind
    of had to swallow that and chose to become
    An RN because of the benefits, job security and pay.

    After 6 years everything flopped. Continuing stressed, burnt
    out and job feels reality unrewarding.

    Creative side feels like a child that’s been neglected
    And has now turned into a starving monster.

    Quit job and now thinking of perusing dream in design

    • Mike L. says

      @Pa,

      INTJ here. I worked in an Se-driven corporate job for 5 years, which completely burned me out. I eventually quit to pursue a career in User Experience (UX) design. It’s proving to be a very rewarding journey so far, with enough knowledge and problem-solving to indulge Ni Te for a lifetime (while being exposed to a world of delightful aesthetics). You don’t need a background in design — curiosity and hunger will serve you well!

      One thing to be aware of is the INTJ’s inner perfectionist. Designing from scratch can eventually become a pain, especially when you want to get things just ‘right.’ It’s okay to get incomplete/imperfect work out the door and revise it after. From my experience, the INTJ strength is in improving existing designs or in applying design thinking to solve problems in new areas.