Not long ago, “introvert” was a dirty word when it came to jobs and job interviews. Hiring managers often explicitly stated that they wanted someone “extroverted,” and passed over more softspoken applicants.
Today, most people are aware that introverts can have people skills, too (even if some of us start off terribly awkward). But that doesn’t mean the work world is always welcoming. In fact, for many introverts, finding a truly satisfying career seems like an impossible quest.
Not that introverts are alone in that. In the United States, only 51 percent of workers feel satisfied with their jobs, and it’s safe to assume the other 49 percent aren’t all introverts. But introverts face obstacles that other workers don’t. For example, introverts are much more likely to want a job that’s meaningful, not just a paycheck, because they take more of their satisfaction from the work itself — and not just from camaraderie with coworkers. An introvert in the wrong work environment will burn out quickly and fall into a place where they dread going to work.
But that’s not how it has to be. Let’s explore what obstacles keep so many introverts from finding a happy career, and some “perfect” jobs for introverts.
Why Many Introverts Are Unhappy with Their Careers
As an introvert, there are plenty of external factors that can cause frustration, energy drain, and burnout on the job. For example:
- Open office layouts have become common, bombarding introverts with noise and distractions.
- Many managers wrongly prioritize collaboration instead of focused work.
- Job interviews often prize social ability over concrete skills and competence — even if the job in question isn’t a people-facing position.
- Many managers don’t realize that introverts bring unique strengths to the team, nor how to get the most out of their introverted employees.
Introverts, feel exhausted yet?
Truth is, I don’t think any of those are the root cause of why introverts are unsatisfied at work. I think most introverts just weren’t raised to truly understand or embrace their introversion. As a result, we struggle to understand our personalities, often at the same time we’re making crucial decisions about education and career. Personally, I didn’t even know what an introvert is until my late twenties, let alone that I was one.
The result? Many introverts end up in careers that aren’t well-suited to their strengths, abilities, or needs.
Introverts’ Strengths in the Workplace
Introverts bring powerful strengths to the job, which extroverts often can’t match. For example, introverts tend to be focused, diligent workers, who can be extremely productive with relatively little oversight. They listen well, taking the time to truly understand an objective (or a client’s need) rather than rushing ahead.
In team settings, introverts make sure work is actually getting done rather than simply being talked about. As leaders, introverts focus on careful, effective planning and taking the time to understand their team. This pays off, with research indicating that introverted leaders get more productivity out of strong, proactive teams than extroverts do.
And we haven’t even gotten into how introverts tend to be naturally creative. All that introspection and quiet time pays off with a vivid inner world that produces truly creative solutions, artwork, and writing.
The Best Jobs for Introverts
I believe these strengths are the best guide to finding a happy career for an introvert. Here are my top nine recommendations for careers for introverts:
1. The legal profession
When you hear “lawyer,” do you picture a strong-voiced extrovert who’s always up for public debate? That image is far from accurate. According to the data, the majority of attorneys are introverts. And that makes sense: Even trial lawyers spend most of their time researching, writing, and preparing for cases — all of which are areas where introverts excel. (Plus, many practice areas don’t involve arguing in front of a judge at all.) Introverts also make great paralegals, a detail-oriented profession that’s big on research and writing, keeping you out of the spotlight.
2. Business-to-business sales
Most salespeople sell to consumers, forcing them to be “on” to hook people with their charisma. But business-to-business (B2B) sales is a very different profession. While personality still matters, no profitable business is going to spend tens of thousands of dollars (or millions) just because you made them laugh. Instead, it’s all about listening to their needs, customizing what you offer, and working with them to get a solution that fits. Introverts can be amazing in these positions; it’s a job that prizes knowledge, listening skills, and meaningful discussion — and it’s often heavy on written communication.
3. Creative professions
We live in an age fueled by content, whether it’s video, photo, or written. That means there are more jobs than ever before for full-time professional creatives, as well as endless freelance opportunities. Since introverts tend to be creative in general, any of these can be a fit, but photographer, video editor, and animator can be particularly good positions — all involve a lot of solo work. Just look carefully at the company culture when applying, because some agencies focus entirely on collaboration, while others understand the need for focused work time.
4. Researcher (any kind)
This is a broad category, because there are researchers in just about any industry. While each field will have its own idiosyncracies, all researcher positions require two things that are introvert strengths: written communication and extensive solo work. In some cases, these positions can be easy to transition into from your existing career, which is a godsend for introverts who feel “stuck” doing something draining. Just be aware of your preferred work style: some research positions, like marketing research, are likely to involve big-picture thinking and spotting trends, while others (medical researcher) will be much more repetitive, requiring you to follow the same procedures every day.
A huge number of introverts have found happiness simply by making the switch from regular employee to self-employed. This can take many forms, whether you’re an entrepreneur striking out to start a new business (which isn’t for everyone), or you’re a freelancer doing work on a project-by-project basis. Introverts thrive as freelancers because they love working independently and getting to use their own insights. It also means you can set your own schedule, control your environment, and lower your stimulation level (no more introvert hangover, at least from work). If you’re looking to transition into self-employment, it’s often easiest to keep your day job while you build up clients as a side-business, then go full-on freelance once the numbers make sense.
6. Working outdoors
Anytime you see a list of professions for introverts, you’re likely to see at least one or two “nature-y” positions — and for good reason. Whether it’s landscaper, park ranger, forester, or botanist, outdoor work tends to involve a lot of long quiet periods. There’s no question that some jobs involve working with teams, but with the physical and unconfined nature of the work, it’s easy to be the quiet one or to simply stay lost in your thoughts. In many of these jobs, you’ll also be surrounded by natural beauty, which is good for mental health and helps imbue a job with a sense of meaning.
7. Anything IT
The burgeoning technology field is still a growth industry, especially in roles like systems administrator, software engineer, data analyst, or web developer. But these jobs aren’t just in demand (and generally well-paid); they also involve plenty of focused, individual work — often with an emphasis on creative problem-solving or building something new. (Get tips on getting started from an introverted programmer here.)
8. Social media marketing (SMM)
In most of history, it’s been almost impossible to command a large audience without putting yourself personally in the spotlight. Social media marketing has changed that, however, and it’s a highly valued skill that creative introverts excel at. SMM combines business sense, creativity with words and pictures, and the ability to pay attention to an audience and their needs. It’s also a career path that you can either get formally trained in or simply master through practice and offer on a freelance basis. As a bonus, this is a skill you can easily apply to your own projects or causes you believe in, so it can help introverts pursue their own passions as well as build a career.
Out of all the caring professions, working as a counselor or therapist might be one of the most perfectly suited to introverts. While it requires people time, much of it is one-on-one or small-group — a situation where introverts are at their best. Likewise, much of the therapist’s role is to listen, listen, listen, then put those deep-thinking introvert skills to work by helping someone come to their own realizations. Almost nothing is more meaningful than helping others and seeing the result.
Of course, there’s no one “best” career for introverts. Even in the right field, your job happiness will depend on the culture, your boss, and your coworkers — as well as simply knowing what you want in life. One of the best ways to do that is to think about what energizes and drains you, and narrow career options down from there.
You might like:
- Why Intuitive Introverts Need Meaningful Work
- 12 Things Introverts Absolutely Need to Be Happy
- If You Relate to These 21 Signs, You’re Probably an Introvert
- 12 Signs That You Have an ‘Introvert Hangover’ (Yes, It’s Real)
- Why Is Writing Easier Than Speaking for Introverts? Here’s the Science
Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for our newsletters to get more stories like this.