By A.J. Drenth
The ENTP personality type is versatile and intelligent with a broad array of interests. While capable of excellence in any number of careers or majors, they often find it difficult to zero-in on the right one. Like ENFPs, they seek to use their creative gifts and abilities in ways that bring personal fulfillment and contribute to the greater good. Unfortunately, many jobs fail to consistently inspire them, leaving them feel restless and dissatisfied. Even those with a college degree can struggle to find enduring career satisfaction.
Like INTP career-seekers, ENTPs can need a great deal of time and experimentation to narrow their career interests. Despite this, it is possible for ENTPs to find a satisfying career niche. It may simply take a number of years, even into their late twenties or thirties, before their niche emerges with greater clarity. Thus, for many ENTPs selecting the “right” college major fresh out of high school can be difficult.
As with ENFP career-seekers, many of ENTPs’ career-related difficulties can be attributed to their dominant function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne). The interests of Ne types tend to be broad and expansive and their appetite for novel explorations insatiable. While Introverted Intuition (Ni) can be associated with a desire to penetrate ever deeper into a given subject, Ne tends to be more expansive and dilettantish. Like other NP types, ENTPs feel compelled to explore all their options before making any permanent decisions. They need to experiment and experience life in order to “find themselves.”
While ENTPs enjoy having opportunities to engage with others, they dislike working in highly structured organizations, thick with rules and protocols. ENTPs are sensitive to what they see as meaningless or unnecessary red tape or bureaucracy. Like other NPs, they seek ample creative freedom and autonomy in their work.
Overview of ENTP Career Interests
Instead of beginning with a discussion of specific career choices or college majors, it is often better to start with a look at the personality functions that characterize a given type. For ENTPs, this includes considering their Ne, Ti, and to a lesser extent, their Fe.
First and foremost, ENTPs enjoy exploring a wide range of ideas or possibilities (Ne) with others (Ne/Fe). They love to brainstorm and debate, while aiming to move toward consensus (Fe). While ENTPs are naturally open to all sorts of ideas (Ne), they hope to see people come together around a common set of values (Fe). They may even have utopian ideals involving a community of people who love to discuss ideas, but can still work together to find common ground. Therefore, ENTPs are often drawn to religion/ministry, politics, journalism, or education.
In addition to their love of intellectual ideas, ENTPs value humor, wit, and creativity. This often leads to interests in the arts and culture. In this vein, ENTPs can make great comedians, actors, satirists, script writers, or talk show hosts (e.g., Jon Stewart).
ENTPs who develop their Ti can make excellent philosophers, analysts, writers, and journalists. While many ENTPs prefer speaking to writing, with sufficient practice and discipline, they can make for strong writers.
While ENTPs often display some measure of scientific interests, they are more apt to function as popularizers of science than they are as scientists. Formal scientific study tends to be too methodical and tedious for ENTPs. Moreover, like INTPs, they are less interested in discovering or working with facts than they are in exploring a broader range of ideas and possibilities.
ENTP Holland Career Code / Interests
To further our discussion of ENTP career interests, we will now turn to six interest themes described by John Holland and the Strong Interest Inventory. The Holland 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 domain(s), 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.
Realistic (R) Careers
Individuals with Realistic interests prefer physical, hands-on work. They may enjoy construction, computer repair, forestry, etc. Research suggests that Myers-Briggs S, T, and P types are somewhat more drawn to Realistic work than are N, F, and J types. As Perceiving types, ENTPs may be a bit more inclined toward Realistic work than their ENTJ counterparts. However, since ENTPs’ dominant function is Intuition, they usually gravitate toward ideational or creative types of careers. Thus, we have no Realistic careers to recommend for ENTPs.
Investigative (I) Careers
The Investigative domain incorporates analytic, scientific, and academic interests. Investigatives enjoy working with ideas, theories, facts, or data. As with the Realistic domain, Thinkers outnumber Feelers when it comes to Investigative interests.
As I alluded to earlier, many ENTPs find the hard sciences (i.e., physics, chemistry) too demanding in the way of precision, patience, and attention to detail, not to mention their relative disconnect from the world of people. Hence, ENTPs are more apt to find interest in the social sciences (history, economics, psychology, sociology, geography, anthropology, political science, etc.). ENTPs with Investigative-Artistic (IA) interests may also study philosophy, religion, investigative journalism, or interdisciplinary fields, such as environmental or peace studies. While ENTPs could feasibly make excellent trial lawyers, many lack sufficient concern for detail and tolerance for bureaucracy to make law a satisfying enterprise (generally, law is a better fit for TJ types). While by no means a comprehensive career list, ENTPs may find the following Investigative careers, jobs, or majors worth exploring:
- Theoretical physicist, mathematician
- Engineering, all types
- Computer science
- Social sciences (sociology, anthropology, political science, geography)
- Psychology: evolutionary, personality, social
- Investigative journalist, reporter, editor
- Philosophy, theology / theologian
- Religious studies, comparative religion
- Peace studies
- College professor
- Investment planning
I am sometimes asked if becoming a doctor or physician is a good career choice for ENTPs. Beyond the gathering of subjective information from patients, there is little about medicine that strikes me as particularly congruent with Ne. I also see modern medicine as characteristically Te (rather than Ti) in its approach, which is another cause for concern for ENTPs. With that said, I think ENTPs may be somewhat better suited for medical practice than INTPs. For one, I think being an extravert can help one survive and navigate the hectic nature of most medical settings. However, one study found ENTPs to be among the least enthusiastic among medical students in clinical settings, joined, unsurprisingly, by INTPs and INFPs. They posited that NPs propensity for independence and individualism may have been largely responsible.
Artistic (A) Careers
The Artistic domain captures those with unconventional and creative interests, including actors, painters, dancers, poets, sculptors, writers, designers, and the like. This domain strongly correlates with Intuition, as well as, to a lesser extent, Feeling and Perceiving. Thus, it is typically the ENTP’s first or second preferred interest area.
In concert with those displaying Investigative interests, Artistics often have an intellectual or cultural-orientation. Like those with IA interests, those with AI types may also gravitate toward philosophy, the social sciences, or interdisciplinary studies. ENTPs may enjoy and excel in a variety of Artistic occupations:
- Comedy writing / comedian
- Graphic / website / UI / UX design
- Creative media professional
- Photography / photographer
- Humanities / liberal arts
- Creative writer, blogger
- Playwright, screen writer
Social (S) Careers
Individuals in the Social interest domain enjoy working with people. Social interests are common among teachers, healthcare workers, clergy, trainers, and caretakers, to name a few. The Social domain relates to preferences for Feeling and to a lesser extent Extraversion.
Since ENTPs are Extraverts but not Feelers, they must tread carefully when it comes to Social careers. ENTPs may be enticed by the prospect of various social careers, such as teaching, ministry, healthcare, counseling, or psychology. As Intuitives, they generally prefer working with adults or higher-level students, those who are more capable of or interested in abstract learning.
Here are a few Social careers that ENTPs might find fulfilling:
- Teacher (higher-level students)
- Priest, pastor, minister
- Life coach
- Translator / languages
- Mediator, diplomat, peace work
Enterprising (E) Careers
The Enterprising domain involves the promotion of products, ideas, or services. Such individuals tend to be persuasive, assertive, and enjoy competitive environments. Typical Enterprising careers include sales and marketing, business and management, law, politics, journalism, insurance, and public speaking. Enterprising individuals often prefer Extraversion.
In general, sales and business is probably better suited for Sensing types than for ENTPs. While ENTPs may do well with marketing, they may ultimately deem it a rather vein enterprise. Along with ENFPs, ENTPs are probably better suited for journalism than any other type. ENTPs love to travel, engage with people, explore ideas, and to write about their experiences. They also tend to fare well with public speaking and interviewing.
Many ENTPs also find entrepreneurship an attractive career option. Entrepreneurship grants them the autonomy and freedom they desire, sans the strictures of organizational life. Entrepreneurial ENTPs may try their hand with a variety of art forms or business ideas: graphic and web design, freelance writing or journalism, photography, blogging, self-publishing, etc. Their Ne-Ti combination can also help with the strategic marketing of their work.
Here are a few options for Enterprising ENTPs:
- Motivational speaker
- Consulting, all types
- Radio host, podcaster
- Business / marketing
- Public relations
Conventional (C) Careers
Individuals with Conventional interests enjoy administrative work (Yes, some people do enjoy administrative tasks!). They are organized, detail-oriented, and skilled with managing and manipulating data. Those in this domain often prefer Sensing, Thinking, and Judging. In general, ENTPs are not well-suited for and tend to avoid Conventional careers.