As for ENTP career-seekers, the road to a satisfying career can be a rough and rocky one for INTPs. INTPs feel they must understand themselves and their place in the world before settling into a career. This includes identifying their skills, as well as their interests and values. Nailing down exactly what they want to do can be a frustrating affair for INTPs, requiring a great deal of experimentation. Despite this, it is possible for INTPs to find a satisfying career niche. It may simply take many years, even well into their thirties, for their niche to emerge with sufficient clarity. Thus, selecting the “right” college major right out of high school might well be considered a dubious enterprise for INTPs. Hopefully this article will help INTPs find greater clarity and therefore make fewer mistakes in their career decision-making.
Because of their rugged individualism, INTPs may struggle to find satisfaction with traditional careers choices and are reluctant to function as employees. Perhaps more than any other type, they want to work independently. They loathe the idea of answering to someone else and can have difficulty embracing an organization’s vision as their own. Like INFPs, they are sensitive to what they see as meaningless or menial aspects of a given job. This is exacerbated by their innate skepticism, which urges them to question the ultimate value of most tasks. Because of their need for autonomy and control over their work, many end up as self-employed entrepreneurs.
INTP Holland Career Code/ Interests
To orient our discussion of INTP 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, which are sometimes called “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 Career Code” (e.g., IAS, RAI). This can help individuals identify their best career choice.
Those 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, or architecture. Such individuals are often visual or kinesthetic learners, commonly excelling in what is known as spatial visualization. Those with strong spatial-visualization skills often do well with schematic charts and diagrams, as well as envisioning and mentally rotating three-dimensional objects. Einstein undoubtedly excelled in this regard. Realistics often 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 INTPs tend to be less Realistic than their ISTP counterparts, there are several Realistic careers that may be well-suited for INTPs, many of which I will list below.
Like INTJ career-seekers, the Investigative domain is typically the foremost Holland domain for INTPs, involving 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).
INTPs’ Investigative interests may range from the hard sciences (e.g., physics) to the social sciences (history, economics, psychology, sociology, geography, anthropology, archeology, political science, etc.). For many INTPs, the hard sciences, may seem to demand too much in the way of precision, patience, and attention to detail. Or, they may seem too Realistic or too far removed from the world of people (more on this later). INTPs with IA interests are often concerned with psychological or sociocultural issues and may study the social sciences, philosophy, critical theory, investigative journalism, or take up non-fiction writing.
Like Investigatives, individuals with Artistic interests often have an intellectual or cultural-orientation. They generally excel on the verbal portion of aptitude tests. The Artistic domain strongly correlates with Myers-Briggs Intuition, as well as, to a lesser extent, Feeling and Perceiving. Artistic types are highly represented among students studying the arts and humanities. Like those with IA interests, those with AI interests may gravitate toward philosophy, the social sciences, or interdisciplinary studies, all of which allow them to utilize both the creative and rational aspects of their personality. (This Personality Junkie post is continued on the next page).