The INFJ personality type is skilled with people and enjoys helping others solve their problems. INFJs often take up work in teaching, ministry, counseling, etc.—career choices that allow them to guide and support others.
Like INTJ career-seekers, INFJs are not necessarily opposed to assuming positions of leadership. Their primary stipulation is that they are working toward goals that accord with their ideals. For this reason, they may be drawn to non-profit work, often rising to positions of leadership in which they do a little of everything—casting the vision, writing grant proposals, marketing, hiring, etc.
INFJ Career Challenges
INFJs are driven to see the ideals generated by their dominant function, Introverted Intuition (Ni), come to fruition in the real world. One of the more common frustrations for this type is the disparity between their idealistic visions and the less than ideal way things tend to play out in reality. For instance, those interested in teaching or politics may feel their hands are tied as a result of deeply-entrenched practices or power structures. The INFJ is left with the choice of spending their lives fighting what seems like an uphill battle or to opt for a path of lesser resistance.
In response, some INJs may try to content themselves with being mere producers of ideals without direct involvement with their actualization. In typological terms, they focus on N while downplaying the importance of S. This may be why INJs are so common among academics (especially INTJs), since the academy allows them to develop their theories more or less independently of their application. INJ writers also enjoy the opportunity of expressing their ideals without direct concern for their application.
INFJs are generally less interested in career hopping and trial-and-error experimentation than INFP career-seekers are. They prefer to lay down roots when possible, as changes in outward circumstances can be unsettling to them. Their anxiety toward outer instability may be exacerbated by a difficult economic climate, which may lead them to settle for mediocre jobs. Even those preferring to go back to school or do something different may avoid doing so because of looming economic fears.
INFJ Holland Career Code / Interests
To orient our discussion of INFJ 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 Career Code” (e.g., IAS, RAI). This can help individuals identify their best career match. While often possessing career interests in several different domains, of the six RIASEC categories, INFJs commonly gravitate toward Social, Investigative, and Artistic pursuits.
Individuals with Realistic interests enjoy physical, hands-on work. Those attracted to Realistic work tend to enjoy working with “things” more than people. It is therefore unsurprising that this interest domain is correlated with a preference for Thinking (T). Research suggests that S, T, and P types are more drawn to Realistic work than are N, F, and J types. Hence, INFJs tend to avoid careers in this interest domain.
The Investigative domain incorporates analytic, scientific, and academic interests. Investigative types enjoy working with ideas, theories, facts, or data. As Fe types, INFJs are typically less interested in the hard sciences (e.g., physics) than they are the social sciences (psychology, sociology, geography, political science majors, etc.). They are more apt to display Investigative-Artistic (IA) interests than IR interests. INFJs with IA or AI interests commonly major in the humanities, social sciences, philosophy, religion, critical theory, the humanities/liberal arts, investigative journalism, or non-fiction writing. Law and medicine are generally not the best fit for INFJs, as these professions are better suited for TJ types.
In concert with those displaying Investigative interests, individuals with Artistic interests often have an intellectual or cultural-orientation. The Artistic theme strongly correlates Myers-Briggs Intuition, as well as, to a lesser extent, Feeling and Perceiving. The Artistic interest domain requires little explanation. It captures those with unconventional and creative interests, including actors, painters, dancers, poets, sculptors, writers, designers, and the like. Unsurprisingly, Artistic types are highly represented among students studying the arts and humanities. Those interested in library science also tend to fall under this interest domain.
INFJs commonly possess Artistic interests. Even if not great artists themselves, INFJs may choose to study the arts. As discussed in my Book, My True Type, they often possess exquisite and refined tastes, displaying a deep appreciation for quality artistry of all sorts. As N dominants, most INFJs are gifted with language and writing. As J types, their natural writing style is fairly structured and analytical. While holding their own with regard to poetry and creative writing, their aptitude may be even greater in non-fiction writing, be it critical, analytical, or theoretical.
Individuals in the Social interest domain enjoy working with people. This domain is often conceived as the conceptual opposite of the Realistic domain, although some individuals enjoy working with both people and things. Social interests are common among teachers, healthcare workers, clergy, trainers, human resource professionals, and caretakers, to name a few. The Social domain relates to preferences for Extraversion and Feeling. Among the most popular careers, jobs, and majors for INFJs, are those in religion / ministry, education, mental health counseling, and medicine / healthcare.
The final two Holland domains, Enterprising and Conventional, are typically not the first choice for INFJs. The Enterprising domain entails 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 stock trading. Enterprising individuals often prefer Extroversion.
Individuals with Conventional interests enjoy administrative work. They do well with manipulating data and are organized and detail-oriented. Those in this domain often prefer Sensing (especially Si), Thinking (especially Te), and/or Judging. Hence, ISFJs are typically a better fit for Conventional careers than INFJs are.
In sum, INFJs are generally best suited for careers that emphasize Investigative, Artistic, or Social types of work activities. What follows is a list of INFJ job/ career choices and college majors organized according to their respective Holland domains:
INFJ Careers & Majors
- Careers in this domain are typically avoided by INFJs.
- Philosopher / theologian
- Scholar, religious studies
- Social scientist: psychology, sociology, political science
- Researcher or research assistant
- Instructional designer
- Art / museum curator
- Graphic / web design
- Actor / actress
- Painter, illustrator
- Critic: art, film, literary, food
- Editor, writer
- Counseling / counselor / therapist
- Psychologist, clinical or counseling (typically prefer the latter)
- Human resources professional
- Teacher / college professor: art, religion, English, literature
- Priest, pastor, rabbi, minister
- Office manager, administrator
- Paralegal / legal assistant
Learn more about INFJs—their personality, relationships, life struggles, paths to growth, and much more—in our new INFJ book (the “#1 New Release in Jungian Psychology” on Amazon):
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3 Roles of the INFJ: Artist, Theorist & Counselor
I’m an INFJ and I found this article extremely relatable! The part about feeling detached from my body and the world feeling hopelessly strange and unnatural, THAT was scarily accurate. I’ve never found someone who could put that sensation into the right words. I can also attest to the fact that my Se has been keeping my in an unsatisfying job. I work as a Restaurant Manager, and while I wholeheartedly believe and expand upon the company’s idealistic vision, the lack of its manifestation leaves me feeling drained and almost worthless. My job is also fast paced, requires attention to detail, and usually stressful. The only part that brings meaning into my life is seeing truly satisfied customers leaving with smiles on their faces, but that small bit of wholeness pales in comparison the other aspects of the job that drain me.
I was interested in pursuing my side art as a career, but decided against it for the same reasons listed here: my perfectionistic attention to detail eventually drives me crazy, I hate working against deadlines, and creating art for someone else negates my personal belief that art should be created for the self, not others. I am now planning for a career change that is more suited for my desire to serve others.
I would have to disagree that teaching is a good choice for INFJ… at least public school teaching.
I absolutely agree. I am an INFJ teacher and went into it with idealistic and unrealistic expectations. I had 34 5th graders for 8 hours a day last year. Prior to that I never fully realized how draining large groups are for introverts. The noise is what really got to me. Now I teach ESL to small groups of middle schoolers and stay for the paycheck just like the article says. I find it exhausting and unfulfilling.
I think INFJs can do well anywhere as long as they believe that what they are doing has a positive impact and they are intellectually stimulated (major plus if they can get creative and help people). We just have to be creative about finding our path:)
I work as an illustrator for a Christian curriculum company, so I like what my work ends up doing, but I have to work with kids on the weekend and have my own personal art projects to actually feel like I have a “purpose”. I can easily get overwhelmed by too many things going on at once or overlapping projects. Not by my own work or lack of it being “good” cause I’m pretty happy with how it looks. You can judge for yourself on Instagram. I can go realistic with it, but for me, as long as the message behind the art hits the “Feels” it is good. INFJs, I have to agree, do not work well in the highschool and under for teaching. Bleh. The worst. I think my “I” is too high of a level for that. One on one though? Glorious. I can teach that way.
Reading this has been extremely eye-opening (thank you!!) I am an INFJ and the moment I discovered my personality type, it’s as if everything clicked. All that you’ve written is spot on – I’ve never felt like I fit in and also I’m also extremely dissatisfied in my high-paying energy sector job. I grew up in a very academic and goal-oriented family where, at a very young age, my desire to be an artist was quickly met with warnings from my parents about a pauper lifestyle.
I feel lost in life at the moment. I hate what I do for a living, however I treasure the security I get from my paycheck. I am thinking of starting a blog – I have a lot to say, especially about my experience post-grad school working in energy. At the same time I am exploring other opportunities. I am rambling now, but I honestly have never felt so lost in my life. I’ve always been lost in my head and never fully been present in the world (INFJ!!) but this is different. Again, thank you for writing this! I don’t feel as alone as I used to knowing there is a reason for what I feel and that there are others like me out there.
Thank you for writing this article. For awhile now I’be have been struggling to find my career path that works with my personality but I’m glad I found this article
Oh my gosh me too! It’s amazing how so many INFJs seem to struggle with finding their way in the world career-wise. I’m nearly 30 and had a few jobs, travelled and then got ill, so starting again. Thinking about working in international development.., or some kind of social service closer to home. This article is spot on, and thank you everyone who has shared their stories, really helps.
Very accurate. I have struggled all my life with poor paying careers because I am an artist and writer. Being an intuitive INFJ means I also lack many practical or technical skills, as I have no patience. I hate anything to do with administration, therefore compiling my tax return is like putting me in jail for a week. I hate to be pinned down, so any routine jobs that mean I am stuck at a desk make me feel claustrophobic. I am neither fast-paced and like to think things through carefully and considerately, which means others can get frustrated with me. My last editor was very clever in that realised he couldn’t pigeonhole me, or push me into doing anything. So, he just left me to my own devices and I flourished and paid him back threefold because he trusted that I needed to do things my way in order to perform, and perform I did to an impressive level. There is nothing I loathe more than being micro-managed. I have no interest in freeloading, work is the most important thing to me, as long as I can do the work the way I want. Generally having a good financial package means being owned, and that is my worst nightmare. It means INFJs are always caught between a rock and a hard place.
I want to share the perspective of an INFJ who became a medical doctor. I knew it was the wrong fit the entire time. Medical school was a living nightmare for me! Talking to patients was enjoyable, but I hated memorizing minute details, writing prescriptions for treatment, working overnight, and doing procedures. Also, the competitive environment and influence of Big Pharma made me lose respect for medicine. So I ended up specializing in pathology (making diagnoses by inspecting biopsies/tissue under the microscope). I loved looking at the beautiful cells under the microscope but could not handle doctors constantly yelling at me for diagnoses. Also, the amount of information to learn and keep track of was unbelievable! Although I appeared calm on the outside, I was constantly panicking on the inside because I wasn’t 100% sure of my diagnoses. The 13 hour workdays and stress levels (ex: the fear of malpractice for misdiagnosing a cancer) finally got to me. I quit 1.5 years ago and still haven’t figured out what to do next. My main obstacle is employers see me as “overqualified” for entry-level positions in other industries such as non-profits. But I have no desire to return to the medical field again.