The Self-starter

ESTP Careers

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The ESTP personality type is someone with Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Perceiving personality traits. These people are energetic, decisive, and perceptive.

For ESTPs, taking action is important. They move confidently through life, unconcerned by the expectation of society. ESTPs are happy being the center of attention. They enjoy fast-paced conversations that can hold their interest and stimulate their intellect.

People with the ESTP personality type are comfortable taking risks. They are happy to circumnavigate anything they perceive to get in the way of forward motion.

ESTPs are logical thinkers. They enjoy using their analytical minds in high-pressure or difficult situations. Around 6.7% of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types within the global population are ESTPs.

Illustration of a person taking action towards goals

The ESTP at work

ESTPs thrive within dynamic and flexible work environments. They are attracted to working with others who can match their quick-thinking and task-oriented approach. 

ESTPs are excellent at rapidly processing information. They confidently make decisions on the fly. This makes them valuable in industries that tend to be more volatile or uncertain. They handle crises calmly and efficiently. 

People with the ESTP personality type may find more static, hierarchical organizations more challenging. They may feel constricted by heavily bureaucratic or process-driven industries. 

ESTPs enjoy working within teams where individuals have a high level of autonomy. They like to collaborate and bounce ideas off teammates. They are equally happy to make decisions independently of others. ESTPs are very self-assured. This confidence in their ability means they have a high-risk appetite.

People with an ESTP personality type are good-natured and don’t tend to take themselves too seriously. This, coupled with their self-confidence and charm, makes building professional relationships easy for ESTPs. They often have an extensive network they can lean on.

ESTPs are adept at problem-solving. They tend to stay calm and logical even in high-stress environments. They can quickly assimilate data to offer practical, and often creative, solutions. With their resourceful nature and extensive connections, ESTPs usually have no difficulty rapidly managing issues and moving on to fight the next metaphorical fire.

This can mean that ESTPs become impatient with people or processes that don’t move as quickly as they do. They also struggle with long-term planning. They prefer to deal with things as they arise rather than attempting to forecast what might be. This may mean business opportunities are lost or more challenging to pursue than might otherwise have been.

Like all of us, ESTP personality types have intrinsic traits that influence their motivation for working in a certain way and within specific work environments. 

At F4S, we’ve identified 48 traits that influence motivation and energy levels. Understanding these traits can help you choose job roles, cultures, and workplace environments that will enable you to thrive. 

These preferences are intrinsic. But we don’t always have the luxury of finding a workplace or way of working that exactly matches our needs. Coaching can help you build skills and resilience when you need to perform in a work environment less suited to your preferences. 

For example, our eight-week coaching program, ‘Reflection & Patience’, can help ESTPs develop the ability to reflect and consolidate before jumping straight to action. This program can also help support ESTPs to grow more patient with others and increase their ability to see tasks through to completion.

Working with an ESTP

ESTP colleagues are amiable and easy to get along with. They enjoy working in flexible environments that are collaborative and fun. The certainty of ESTPs can feel reassuring to less confident teammates. ESTPs often find themselves acting as unofficial leaders within their peer group.

People with the ESTP personality type are highly analytical. They can quickly help their colleagues make sense of large volumes of data. They aren’t afraid to explore more innovative or risky approaches to solving problems. Their energetic manner can act as a strong source of motivation for other team members.

ESTPs are extremely observant and also honest and direct in their communications. This forthrightness can be helpful from a task completion perspective. However, some colleagues may find them a little insensitive. Likewise, ESTPs can become frustrated with more emotional or verbose teammates. 

Managing an ESTP can be challenging as they rally against rules or regulations that get in the way of their agenda. To get the best from an ESTP, managers should try to give them as much freedom as possible within acceptable boundaries. This is most likely to result in novel idea generation and high levels of productivity. 

Best careers for ESTP

ESTP personality types are happiest in careers where they can troubleshoot tricky problems and take action to create a practical solution. Like all the personality types, ESTPs can be found in a range of careers and industries. 

However, they are likely to be most satisfied in high-pressure roles. Here their self-confidence and appetite for risk are likely to generate a reward. The ESTP personality slots neatly into many typically competitive work environments, such as sales and business negotiation. It also fits well with roles in sports, crisis management, and stockbroking.

Top career matches for ESTPs include:

Sciences and health

  • Paramedic
  • Athletic trainer
  • Sportsperson
  • Inventor

Creative arts

  • Photographer
  • Actor
  • Graphic designer
  • Creative director

Business

  • Entrepreneur
  • Sales manager
  • Marketing executive
  • Stockbroker
  • Asset manager
  • Merger and acquisition consultant
  • Chief financial officer
  • Freelancer
  • Management consultant
  • Business development officer

Information technology

  • Tech startup founder
  • Chief information officer

Education, philosophy, academia, and law

  • Commercial law attorney

Miscellaneous

  • Police officer
  • Military soldier
  • Firefighter
  • Chef
  • Travel agent
  • Food critic
  • Activist
  • Journalist
  • Disaster relief specialist
  • Oil rig worker
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ESTP-A vs. ESTP-T

Like other MBTI personality types, ESTPs can be sub-categorized into assertive or turbulent identities. These identities affect all of the four elements that make up an ESTP personality type. 

Within the characteristics of their overall type, assertive identities tend to take action more boldly and with less concern about the opinion of others. Turbulent identities are more likely to think things through before moving forward.

These two sub-categories bring a little more nuance to elements of the ESTP personality type. More self-assured ESTP-As feel confident they can overcome any obstacles they face; in fact, they enjoy the challenge. This makes them more decisive than ESTP-Ts. However, this greater hesitancy in ESTP-Ts means they are less likely to make rash decisions. 

Like all people with the Extroverted trait, ESTP-As value social interaction, but they are less needy than ESTP-Ts. ESTP-Ts are more likely to be influenced by the thoughts of others. This means ESTP-As tend to feel more relaxed when working with other team members. ESTP-As may, however, be viewed as more careless by their colleagues.

Given these nuances, let’s look at how some of the ESTP careers we mentioned above might suit the two identity sub-categories:

ESTP-A careers:

  • Entrepreneur
  • Actor
  • Chef
  • Sportsperson
  • Inventor
  • Food critic
  • Activist

ESTP-T careers:

  • Firefighter
  • Paramedic
  • Athletic trainer
  • Marketing executive
  • Sales manager
  • Creative director

Highest-paying careers for ESTP

ESTPs thrive in high-pressure, action-oriented careers. Though this isn’t the primary motivator for ESTPs, some of these can be highly paid. The average base pay for a military officer is US$101,140. Senior federal firefighters can earn US$104,653.

ESTPs’ leadership skills and good business understanding can lead to some lucrative careers. The average senior management consultant's salary is US$120,178. Senior marketing managers typically make US$109,926.

Other highly-paid career paths include:

ESTP strengths and weaknesses

At F4S, we don’t think about strengths and weaknesses the same way as the MBTI personality test does. We believe that strengths and weaknesses are often situation-dependent. We prefer to look at what motivates you vs. what drains your energy. These elements might overlap with what Myers-Briggs describes as strengths and weaknesses, but not always.

For example, perhaps (like many ESTPs) you have a real strength in assimilating information. You enjoy making rapid decisions under pressure. Your sense of purpose comes from finding creative solutions to challenging issues and taking action to mitigate problems.

However, the organization you work within has a low tolerance for risk. It requires important decisions to be made via committees embedded within multiple layers of the business hierarchy. Your ability to take action is stifled by bureaucracy. Moving tasks forward takes way longer than you have the patience for. This leaves you frustrated and disengaged. You're unable to use your strengths to the best effect.

Equally, perhaps there is something you love doing, that motivates and energizes you, but you’re not very skilled at it yet. It might not be considered an innate ‘strength’, but you’re way more likely to enjoy your career choice if you can find a job with some elements of that activity.

That said, here are some ESTP ‘strengths and weaknesses’ as listed by MBTI:

ESTP strengths

  • Action-oriented
  • Boldness
  • Innovative
  • Calm under pressure
  • Clear-thinking and rational
  • Forthright

ESTP weaknesses

  • Insensitive
  • Careless
  • Risk-prone
  • Impatient

ESTP careers to avoid

Our Myers-Briggs personality type offers insight into our likely preferences for how we work and what type of careers we might enjoy. However, it’s important to note that any personality type can be successful across all industries and job roles. 

Our preferences may mean certain types of work and work environments are more challenging for us. But, if you’re highly motivated to pursue a particular career path, there’s no reason you can’t excel.

Motivation is personal and complicated. There can be both internal and external drivers for motivation. Increased self-awareness helps you identify the internal traits that drive your preferences for how, where, and when you work. 

At F4S, we recommend starting with our free self-assessment to unlock insights about where your talents lie. This can help you to understand how you can best harness your preferences to create a satisfying and successful career.

However, sometimes there are also strong external motivating factors. For example, a lucrative pay packet, comprehensive benefits, or the ability to work from a specific location. 

External motivations may result in you working in an environment that jars with your intrinsic motivations. Personal development programs and coaching can help you rachet up the skills needed to excel when working in ways less suited to your preferences.

So, if there is something you’re excited about trying, you should definitely explore it even if your MBTI result suggests you might be better suited to something else.

ESTPs enjoy working within flexible, dynamic organizations. They excel at finding innovative solutions to business problems, especially under pressure. They are action-oriented with a high-risk appetite. They enjoy working with other driven, creative individuals. Bureaucratic or process-driven organizations will stifle ESTPs. They will rebel against rules and managers that micromanage them.

Given this, some roles typically have work environments or approaches that may be more challenging for ESTPs. Remember, this list is just a guideline of job types you might not enjoy or may find draining. It doesn’t mean you won’t excel at them.

The following careers may be less suited to ESTP personality types:

  • Auditor
  • Librarian
  • Financial analyst
  • Museum curator
  • Paleontologist
  • Data governance specialist
  • Quality assurance manager
  • Preschool teacher
  • Architect
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Accountant
  • Vocational teacher

ESTP leadership

As we mentioned above, here at F4S, we’re fascinated by what motivates people. When considering leadership, it’s important to reflect on these three particular traits:

If you enjoy power and control, you will likely thrive in a leadership role. If belonging is important to you, then a leadership position may feel isolating. 

For ESTP personality types, achievement (through action) is critical. Long, circular discussions with no outcome and meetings without decisions and clear next steps are incredibly frustrating and disheartening to ESTPs. 

Managerial roles seem appealing to ESTPs. They perceive them to offer more agency and power to get things done. They can use their positional authority to make quick decisions without sending everything up the chain of command. Leadership roles in careers such as the military, which use delegated responsibility to support rapid decision-making, are ideal for ESTPs.

ESTPs, especially ESTP-As, are not overly concerned with belonging. Their Extroverted trait means they are energized by working with others. However, they aren’t excessively needy for social connection. This means they are happy to lead from the front and are confident in their own opinions. Their extensive network and strong professional relationships are, first and foremost, enablers. They allow ESTPs to get things done quickly and efficiently.

People with the ESTP personality type tend to be energetic and motivational leaders. They can easily persuade their team members to get on board with their ideas and decisions. Their calm demeanor, rational thinking, and clear communication reassure their team, especially in crisis situations or more volatile working environments. 

ESTPs live in the moment and tend to simply react to whatever is thrown at them. They are solely focused on troubleshooting the immediate problem. This means they may be less effective at long-term planning. They aren’t interested in the status quo and are happy to try novel ways of doing things. ‘Fail fast’ is part of the ESTP psyche. They are happy to learn through experimentation. This can feel unsettling for team members who prefer a more systematic approach to work. 

Raising these concerns, however, is likely to be met with a reasonably robust response from ESTP leaders. Dealing with emotions is not their strong suit. Feedback to their team members is likely to be blunt - no sugarcoating here! 

Some more astute ESTP leaders - especially ESTP-Ts - will recognize that to move forward most effectively, they need to get their team members engaged and productive. This clarity enables them to invest in improving their leadership skills to support subordinate development more successfully.

If you’re interested in getting the most from your team through delivering transformational feedback, try our eight-week development program ‘Multiply Your Impact’. This program is personalized to work with your innate preferences helping you to lead with greater impact irrespective of personality type.

ESTP teamwork

ESTPs want their work life to be fun and engaging. Gregarious and outgoing, they can help keep team spirits and energy high, even when tackling tricky tasks. People with an ESTP personality type are confident in their own abilities. They aren’t afraid to offer their opinions on potential solutions or approaches. 

ESTPs work best in smaller, dynamic teams where they can collaborate with like-minded peers and drive tasks forward. They are hardworking and adaptable and manage change well. ESTPs are happy to step up and lead their colleagues to task completion. In larger, more process-driven teams, ESTPs can feel stifled, which can make them disruptive.

People with an ESTP personality type are amiable and charming. This means they make strong professional relationships easily. They also tend to have a well-developed network. Their enthusiastic, goal-oriented manner can be very motivating to their colleagues. They’re also not shy about calling out people they think aren’t contributing. 

ESTPs’ light-hearted approach to work can lead their colleagues to consider them careless - in both their attitude to planning and with others’ emotions. To help them resolve any conflicts that arise, ESTPs should consider taking the needs of more sensitive colleagues (and the wider business) a little more seriously when necessary.

ESTP celebrities

From Joe Montana, an American football quarterback, to the magician Harry Houdini, ESTPs are recognized for their innovation, self-confidence, and unique, action-oriented approach to life.

Here are some famous ESTPs:

Madonna
Madonna is an ESTP. Madonna is an American singer, songwriter, and actor often referred to as the ‘Queen of Pop’. Known for her reinvention and imaginative stage performances, Madonna isn’t afraid to push creative boundaries.
Donald Trump
Donald Trump is an ESTP. Trump served as President of the United States from 2017-2021. The American business magnate is known for his strong opinions and self-confidence. Despite having no previous experience within either the government or military, Trump used his extensive professional network and influence to win the 2016 presidential campaign.
Dame Anna Wintour
Dame Anna Wintour is an ESTP. The British fashion journalist is a force of nature, breathing life into numerous stagnating publications. Wintour is perceived as aloof. She is known for her direct and uncompromising leadership. Not afraid to challenge the status quo, her creativity has kept her at the forefront of the fashion industry for over forty years.
Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini was an ESTP. Houdini was a famous escapologist and illusionist. He escaped from strait-jackets, from water-logged cabinets, and after being buried alive. He also indulged his high-risk appetite by becoming a pilot. He aimed to be the first person to take to the skies above Australia.
Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse was an ESTP. Winehouse was a British singer and songwriter. She was known for her unique vocals and songs that spanned multiple musical genres. She won five Grammys in a single year. Her album ‘Back to Black’ reached number two on the US Billboard. A typical thrill-seeking ESTP, Winehouse’s career and legacy were marred by her substance abuse, which led to her untimely death.
Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison was an ESTP. Edison was a prolific inventor. He had over 1,093 patents to his name. His logical and creative brain was constantly searching for novel ideas. He was highly influential in the development of the electric light bulb. He was also a freethinker. He practiced nonviolence toward all living things and passionately supported women’s right to vote.
Joe Montana
Joe Montana is an ESTP. Montana is a retired NFL quarterback. He played with the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs and won four Super Bowls. Nicknamed ‘Joe Cool’, Montana could stay calm even under high-pressure moments. He was also known as the ‘Comeback Kid’ due to his ability to motivate his team to victory even from significant late-game deficits.
Eva Peron
Eva Peron was an ESTP. The First Lady of Argentina, Peron was hugely popular among the Argentinian working classes. Despite living in a male-dominated country, Peron was unafraid to voice her opinion. She helped advance women’s suffrage and founded the Female Peronist Party. This brought many women into Argentinian politics.

Editor's note: Do you recognize yourself in any of these famous people? Are you secretly nodding along, going, "I always thought I was just like Madonna?" Whether you are or you aren't, don't worry! This list is meant to be fairly light-hearted. It is based on traits and behaviors observed in our favorite celebs rather than in-depth research. After all, it's unlikely anyone actually put Harry Houdini through an MBTI test!

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