Best Careers for Introverts and Extroverts
Check out some hot career picks for introverts and extroverts.
Do you love interacting with people? Maybe you'd prefer to limit your time to the most interesting person you know...you.
These are important questions if you're thinking of going back to school to pursue a new career. After all, if you're an introvert - someone who prefers solitary activities such as reading and writing - chances are you won't really enjoy being a nurse or selling ads.
On the other hand, if you're an extrovert - a person who is energized by being around people and groups - you'd likely go nuts programming computers or crunching numbers all day.
And though clinical psychologist Dr. Suzanne Anthony says people should think of the introvert-extrovert scale as a continuum, with no one being purely one or the other, she says it's important for your career goals to understand where you fall on the scale.
"You want to find the right fit for your personality in a career because you'll be spending a large portion of your life at work," Anthony says. "So you want to pick a field you'll be comfortable with. Do that and you'll have a better chance at achieving satisfaction, happiness, and success."
To help you match your personality to a career, here's a quick look at five careers for those on the introvert side of the scale, and five for those falling on the more extroverted end. We've also broken them up by various fields of study.
Read on to see if one fits your lifestyle...
Field of Study: Business and Marketing
Introvert-Friendly Career - Market Research Analyst
If the idea of analyzing data and research gets you pumped up instead of slumped down, the introvert-friendly career of market research analyst might be a good option.
"From what I know about this career, they tend to work more behind the scenes, conducting research and doing analysis, so it's a career where you might spend a lot of time by yourself, 'inside your head,' so to speak," Anthony says. "That's much better for an introvert."
The U.S Department of Labor's description of this job seems to suggest the same thing. It says market research analysts might forecast market sales trends, examine data using statistical software, and translate complex data into clear reports and graphs.
Education Options: The Department of Labor says these analysts need a bachelor's degree in market research or a related field, such as math, statistics, or computer science. It adds that some have backgrounds in business administration, communications, or a social science.
Extrovert-Friendly Career - Public Relations Specialist
Let's see if we can decipher why this may be a good extrovert career. Public. Relations. Specialist. Yes, it might help to be a specialist in relating with the public, aka, people. Basically, it's a great career for people with the gift of the gab.
Anthony agrees. "My understanding of a public relations specialist is you have to interact with a lot of different people, so being outgoing, or a people person, would help you in that career. Definitely an extrovert's career," she says.
In fact, the first skill the U.S. Department of Labor suggests as an important quality to possess in this career is interpersonal skills. Why? They say public relations specialists "must be open and friendly to build rapport and get good cooperation from their media contacts."
Education Options: The Department of Labor says public relations specialists usually need to have a bachelor's degree, with employers wanting applicants with a background in public relations, journalism, communications, business, or English.
Field of Study: Information Technology (IT)
Introvert-Friendly Career - Computer Programmer
Spending time alone with a computer could be a dream come true for any introverted techie. For them, life as a computer programmer might sound like a dream that could also pay the rent.
"From my understanding, computer programmers work by themselves, in the world of ideas," Anthony says. "That's more on the introverted side because introverts are more comfortable alone and like working on their own."
In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, a computer programmer's typical responsibilities include using code libraries, writing code to create software programs, and debugging, fixing, and testing computer programs. Like we said, an introvert's dream job.
Education Options: The Department of Labor says most computer programmers have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related area. They add that some employers could take on applicants with an associate's degree.
Extrovert-Friendly Career - Computer Support Specialist
If you're a computer geek - sorry, computer aficionado - who isn't afraid of terms like face time and small talk, you might be hard-wired for a computer support specialist career.
"I think as a computer support specialist you have to feel comfortable interacting with people, unlike a computer programmer where you'll be working alone for long periods," Anthony says. "You'll want to make sure people are at ease so you can get information about their computer problems and then be effective in solving them."
That sounds about right if you read the U.S. Department of Labor's description of this job. It says that computer support specialists "...provide help and advice to people and organizations using computer software or equipment."
Education Options: "A bachelor's degree is required for some computer support specialist positions, but an associate's degree or postsecondary classes may be enough for others," says the Department of Labor. It adds that more technical positions will likely require applicants to have a degree in computer science, engineering, or information science.
Field of Study: Health Care
Introvert-Friendly Career - Medical Records and Health Information Technician
It's all right there in the job title, isn't it? "Records," "information," "technician." These are words that just might make an introvert's heart sing.
Yes, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, medical records and health info techs work on a lot of coding and categorizing (two more introvert-song-worthy words). They also manage and organize health data in both paper and electronic form. We'd go on, but all you introverts might stop reading as you jump for joy.
And here's Anthony's take on the career: "When you're doing medical billing and coding, you're working not with patients but more with paperwork and computers. Again, you'll likely be working on your own, so that would be a great choice for an introvert," she says.
Education Options: According to the Department of Labor, medical records and health info technicians are generally required to have certificate in health information technology. The Department also notes that these technicians may have an associate's degree. Many employers also require applicants to have a professional certification.
Extrovert-Friendly Career - Registered Nurse (RN)
Whether you're sick, need a shot, or just going to the doctor for a routine checkup, you probably want a person with a calming, personable attitude taking those vital signs, right? In other words, you'll likely want someone tipping the extrovert side of the personality scale.
Anthony agrees this is a good career fit for people with a more outgoing personality. "Typically, nurses interact a lot with patients, doctors, and other nurses," she says. "So extroverts would be more comfortable working closely with other people, especially in the sometimes anxiety-inducing settings of hospitals and doctors' offices."
Indeed, the U.S. Department of Labor verifies this by listing some of the skills that are good for nurses to have: compassion, patience, and speaking skills. Nurses could use these skills to record patients' medical histories, take vital signs, consult with doctors, and explain care and treatment to patients.
Education Options: An associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma from an approved nursing program are two educational paths that can help you prepare to pursue a career as an RN, the Department of Labor says. RNs must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination to receive their license.
Field of Study: Finance
Introvert-Friendly Career - Accountant
Crunching numbers, balancing spreadsheets, preparing taxes...these may be some of an introvert's favorite things.
"Typically, accountants are working with numbers, paperwork, computers, and not as much with people, so I think that career is a better fit for an introvert," Anthony says. "It's for someone who wants to work with ideas versus people."
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, accountants could do everything from computing taxes and preparing tax returns to organizing and maintaining financial records. Of course, as an accountant, the Department of Labor also says you may need to explain your work to clients and companies. So save a little extrovert for this one, too.
Education Options: Most accountants are required to have at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field, according to the Department, which notes that some employers may favor applicants with a master's in accounting or business administration.
Extrovert-Friendly Career - Personal Financial Advisor
Want to take that number-crunching and financial planning introvert out for some social interaction? Personal financial advisor could be a great profession to do it.
"As opposed to an accountant, a personal financial advisor works more directly with clients to help them plan their finances and future, so I think it's very important to be comfortable with people," Anthony says.
That sounds about right, since three out of the five important qualities that the U.S. Department of Labor lists for this career are interpersonal, selling, and speaking skills. And these skills could go a long way, as personal financial advisors often meet with clients to educate them on investment options and risks and answer their questions.
Education Options: Personal financial advisors generally need a bachelor's degree, says the Department of Labor, which notes that a degree in business, accounting, finance, to name a few, could provide good preparation.
Field of Study: Legal
Introvert-Friendly Career - Paralegal
Do you enjoy research, analytical writing, and critical thinking? You might be an introvert. And chances are you might also be a perfect fit for a paralegal career.
Just check out the job description from the U.S. Department of Labor. It says paralegals assist lawyers by investigating the facts of cases, researching relevant laws, regulations, and legal articles, drafting contracts, and writing reports.
Anthony agrees this is a good career choice for introverts, but adds that it might require a little extrovert in you, as well. "Dealing with the world of ideas is a good fit for introverted personalities," she says. "However, I think you'll interact with attorneys and clients at times, so you might need some desire to work with people, too."
Education Options: "Most paralegals and legal assistants have an associate's degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree in another field and a certificate in paralegal studies," says the Department of Labor.
Extrovert-Friendly Career - Court Reporter
Here's a career where your job is to pay attention to people, so you probably won't be alone much. But, says Anthony, this is another career, like paralegal, where it might be best to also have a little of the opposite personality - i.e., introvert - in your DNA.
"This I see as a career that's in the midrange between introvert and extrovert," Anthony says. "That said, I could imagine this being a good pick for an extrovert. Extroverts like being around people, so you might like the dynamics and energy of a courtroom setting."
And according to the U.S. Department of Labor, many court reporters do more than merely take down transcripts at court hearings and trials. They also could attend events that need transcription, work with the deaf and hard-of-hearing to turn speech to text, and even write the closed captioning for TV and movies.
Education Options: The Department of Labor says that a good chunk of court reporters obtain formal preparation at a community college or technical institution, adding that program options vary from certificate programs to associate's degrees in stenography.
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