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INTP Careers

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The INTP personality type is someone with Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Perceiving personality traits. These people are logical and analytical. They enjoy making sense of the world through conceptual models. 

As well as sense-making, they may also use models to uncover novel approaches to problems. INTP personality types are also adaptable. They respond positively to change and take advantage of new opportunities.

INTP personality types are one of the least common of the 16 Myers-Briggs (MBTI) types. Only 4.6% of the global population are INTPs.

Illustration of a woman with long hair analyzing something

The INTP at work

INTPs are independent thinkers who don’t like to be contained by conventional wisdom. In the workplace, INTPs are happy to challenge the status quo. They do this in a thoughtful and insightful way rather than a bullish one.

INTP personality types can get caught up in their own thoughts as they grapple with complex business problems. Others may perceive them as detached or aloof. Once their thinking is complete, their solutions are often surprisingly innovative. 

While INTPs are logical and analytical, they don’t shy away from abstract ideas or intangible concepts. They often enjoy trying to ‘solve’ these problems. But they aren’t interested in ethereal or fanciful notions.

Though they are extremely logical, they can be highly theoretical. Sometimes, their innovative solutions are not practical from an implementation perspective. 

Where solutions can be implemented, INTPs prefer that others work through the detail of translating their conceptual thinking into tangible outcomes.

They don’t like to be bound by orthodox or rigid thinking. INTPs are more likely to excel in environments where they have to solve unique problems, optimize underperforming processes, or provide innovative solutions to business challenges.

Like all of us, INTP 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. 

While these preferences are intrinsic, 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 8-week coaching program ‘Increase EQ’ can help INTPs develop their emotional intelligence (EI). Improving your EI can make working within a team dynamic much easier.

Working with an INTP

INTPs often prefer to work independently and may find working within a team dynamic more challenging. INTPs value logic and are likely to try to influence others via data, analysis, and facts. 

They can lack patience with those who can’t quickly follow their train of thought. They may seem dismissive of others’ ideas. It’s tricky for INTPs to understand that human nature can’t be packaged into a neat conceptual model. They can struggle with the irrationality of human emotions and feelings.

INTPs love to innovate and co-create with others who can match their mental flexibility. They are happy to swap ideas and engage in rigorous debate about concepts and theories. 

INTPs love the stimulus of complicated, theoretical discourse. But, they can become exhausted by a lot of meetings, socializing, and noise or interruptions. 

People with the Introverted trait can find a lot of interaction tiring. To get the most from INTP colleagues, make sure they get time and space to be alone during the working day. 

INTPs can also be skeptical, so if you need them to make a change, you’ll need to convince them of the benefit of doing so. Providing supporting information, facts, and analysis is the best way to influence an INTP.

INTPs admire their intellectual capacity. They can be flattered by the notion that only they possess the expertise required to solve complex challenges. If you’re managing an INTP person, give them the space and time to solutionize. They may surprise you with their innovative ideas. 

Offering them ‘freedom within a framework’ can be wise.  Sometimes, INTPs get so caught up in their own research and exploration that they lose track of how they are meant to be contributing. So, be clear about the expected outcome and let them manage the approach to getting there.

Best careers for INTP

INTP personality types are happiest in careers where they can use their strong analytical skills to solve complex problems. Like all the personality types, INTPs can be found in a range of careers and industries. 

However, they are likely to be most satisfied in jobs where they can work independently to analyze data, research problems, and issues, and create innovative solutions to difficult challenges.

Their unconventional thinking can lead to breakthroughs in business, science, and the creative arts. INTPs aren’t afraid to break the mold. They are happy to challenge norms, assumptions, or ‘the way we’ve always done it.’

Top careers for INTPs include:

Sciences

  • Physicist
  • Aerospace engineer
  • Mathematician
  • Chemist
  • Research scientist
  • Biologist
  • Biomedical engineer

Creative arts

  • Authors
  • Artists
  • Playwrights
  • Musicians
  • Poets
  • Actors (especially method actors)
  • Orchestra conductor
  • Creative director

Business

  • Data analyst
  • Process improvement specialist
  • Management consultant
  • Financial strategist
  • Start-up founder
  • Change manager
  • Business analyst

Information technology

  • Computer programmer
  • Web developer
  • Computer scientist
  • Software engineer

Education, philosophy, academia, and law

  • College professor
  • University researcher or lecturer
  • Attorney
  • Legal analyst or researcher
  • Psychologist

Miscellaneous

  • Activist
  • Charity campaigner
  • Think-tank member
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INTP-A vs. INTP-T

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

Within the constraints of their overall type, assertive identities tend to be more self-assured, calm, and confident in their decisions. Turbulent identities tend to have more self-doubt. They counteract this by pushing hard to perform well and achieve success.

These two sub-categories bring a little more nuance to elements of the INTP personality type. For example, all INTPs are adaptable and open to change. However, INTP-A types are more likely to be a little more discerning. Once they’ve made a change, they are less likely to be distracted by the myriad of other choices. 

On the other hand, INTP-T types are continually looking for novel and exciting ways to improve things. This can make them easily distracted. INTP-A types are also more likely to be comfortable with changes suggested by others. INTP-T types prefer to lead change fuelled by their own ideas.

When it comes to working with people, INTP-A types are rarely affected by the feelings or opinions of others. They are quite happy to pursue their own agenda. This can lead to others perceiving them as arrogant or standoffish. 

INTP-A types don’t mean to be condescending toward others. They just feel so confident in their own ideas and abilities that it leaves little room for other contributions. This can be problematic in a collaborative environment or within a team.

INTP-T types, however, are more influenced by the thoughts and opinions of others. This can make them more accessible to co-workers but can mean that sometimes a great idea is lost if they lack confidence in sharing it.

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

INTP-A careers:

  • Computer programmer
  • Web developer
  • Management consultant
  • Financial analyst
  • Attorney
  • Mathematician

INTP-T careers:

  • Artist
  • Academic
  • Start-up founder
  • Think-tank member
  • Activist 
  • Charity campaigner

Highest-paying careers for INTP

INTPs thrive on working independently and challenging the norms. This makes it more difficult to assess a typical career path for an INTP than for other personality types. 

Within the creative arts and sciences, the highest-paid roles are likely to involve recognition or specific academic breakthroughs. For example, INTP actor Christopher Walken is worth an estimated US$50 million, whereas the typical pay for an actor in the US is US$59,086

The analytical nature of INTPs tends to be valued in typically more lucrative industries, such as technology, law, and finance. The average base salary for a computer scientist in the US is US$109,027, and for a financial analyst, it’s US$71,022.

Other highly-paid options include:

  • Management consultant (average base pay: US$99,286)
  • Attorney (average base pay: US$87,461)
  • University professor (average base pay: US$116,636)

INTP strengths and weaknesses

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

For example, perhaps you have a real strength in building professional relationships. Or you are skilled at mediating any conflict that arises within your team. However, doing so drains your energy and leaves you exhausted at the end of every day. You're not able to use your strengths to make a difference. Over time, working within a team construct might make you miserable and be unsustainable as a career in which you’re going to thrive.

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 INTP ‘strengths and weaknesses’ as listed by MBTI:

INTP strengths

  • Innovative
  • Logical
  • Curious
  • Objective
  • Problem-solving skills

INTP weaknesses

  • Perfectionism
  • Insensitive nature
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Impatience

INTP 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. However, if you’re highly motivated to pursue a particular career, 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 unique talents lie. This helps you 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 motivation. 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.

INTPs are excited by things that are interesting, complex, and uncommon. They like to stretch their intellectual capacity. They enjoy working independently to tackle thorny problems. They are likely to feel uninspired by routine work or by working within a well-understood process.

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

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

  • Accountancy
  • Quality assurance
  • Nursing
  • Factory production work
  • Data entry
  • Human resources
  • Electrician
  • Realtor

INTP leadership

INTP personality types can be good leaders. Their analytical nature means they are confident in making and communicating decisions to their teams. They are also objective, which makes them fair. They are not interested in office politics or playing games. They value straight-talking and data-driven ways of working. 

INTPs will do best leading teams that appreciate their logical approach and are happy to work independently. INTPs may find it more challenging to lead teams who need more support and development or who can’t easily and quickly grasp their ideas.

In short, INTPs may find they are motivated to lead, or otherwise, depending on their team culture and work environment. 

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:

  • Whether you enjoy power and control
  • How much you value belonging
  • How much you’re motivated by achievement. 

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. 

INTP personality types tend to be less concerned with belonging. Having the independence and freedom to pursue their interests is much more critical. If they can find a team of innovative and flexible thinkers who are both curious about the world and logical in their approach to making sense of it, they may enjoy the status of being in a leadership position. 

To increase your comfort and confidence in a leadership role, try our eight-week leadership development program ‘Personal Power’. This program is personalized to work with your innate preferences helping you to lead with greater impact irrespective of personality type.

INTP teamwork

We’ve already touched on the fact that INTPs like to work independently. This is important to enable them to find the focus needed to dig deep into the analysis of a complex problem. They are happy to tackle projects that don’t require the input of others. They are also comfortable taking responsibility for what they are working on.

A challenge of this desire to work alone is that sometimes INTPs can be blind to what the rest of the team is working on. This means they can miss out on vital information that would help them unlock some of the business problems they may be grappling with. 

If you’re an INTP, improving your collaboration skills through coaching or other personal development opportunities can mean greater visibility and context for your work.

INTP celebrities

From Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most well-known scientists, to the American comedian, actor, producer, and writer Tina Fey, INTPs are recognized for their deep thinking, innovation, and logical approach to problem-solving. 

Here are some INTP famous people:

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein is an INTP. He was a highly influential German-born theoretical physicist. He is most famous for developing the theory of relativity. The development of this theory, and his contribution to the theory of quantum mechanics, were enabled by Einstein’s ability to use conceptual models to make sense of intangible phenomena.
Stephen King
Stephen King is an INTP. He’s highly creative but likes to analyze his work through a framework of logic. He often tackles several books at once. He consistently analyzes and rewrites to ensure the best possible outcome for his audience.
Bill Gates
Bill Gates is an INTP. He’s a software developer and business leader who co-founded Microsoft in 1975. An instinctive problem-solver, Gates is fascinated by the way technology can be used to benefit the world.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is an INTP. Widely regarded as one of the best golfers of all time, Woods is highly analytical in his approach to performance. Woods is fastidious in his use of data to generate a competitive advantage. He is also unafraid to try innovative approaches in his quest to be the best.
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant is an INTP. He was a famous German philosopher and one of the most innovative thinkers of his time. Fascinated by the complexity of the world, Kant sought to make sense of it through comprehensive and systematic analysis.
Tina Fey
Tina Fey is an INTP. She’s an American actor, writer, producer, and comedian. She has won multiple Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild awards. Fey is well-known for her original writing. She enjoys the creativity her profession affords her.
Cathy Freeman
Cathy Freeman is an INTP. Freeman is an Australian sprinter. She won the women’s 400m gold medal at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. She adopted many novel approaches to racing. Freeman famously wore an all-in-one body suit during her gold-medal-winning race to ‘minimize drag’.
David Byrne
David Byrne is an INTP. Byrne is the lead singer and guitarist of the famous rock band ‘Talking Heads’. His song lyrics are often quite abstract and metaphorical. This reflects his innovative and unconventional way of viewing the world.

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 Tiger Woods?” 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 Albert Einstein through an MBTI test!

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