Careers Where Quiet People Are Assets

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Feel like your quiet personality makes you the office outsider? Here are six careers where a reserved nature is an asset, not a limitation.

By Amy Howell Hirt

Does the phrase "small talk" make you cringe? If you're a quiet person, navigating the social niceties of the professional world could be a real drag. You may even feel like your personality is holding you back from getting a leg up in your current career.

But don't count yourself out just yet. A quiet demeanor could conceal great powers of observation or analysis.

"People who are quiet might focus on data and things, rather than people, so there are some occupations [in which] they might be able to do a better job," says Laurence Shatkin, a career expert and author of several books, including "50 Best Jobs for Your Personality."

Ready to let your quiet attributes do the talking? Consider pursuing these careers where your natural inclinations could be your greatest assets.

Career #1: Accountant

When data talks, are you usually listening? An ability to sit quietly while poring over numbers could serve you well as an accountant.

"Shhhh!" Factor: If you prefer to keep quiet and focus on the details, this number-driven occupation could play to your strengths, Shatkin says. Reviewing financial statements, computing taxes, and reviewing accounting systems are some of the duties required of accountants, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Accountants carry out their duties in either an office or at home, according to the Department of Labor. Sounds like you'll have plenty of quality time to spend with your number-friends.

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Just keep in mind that this job may require meeting face-to-face with clients on occasion, in order to provide recommendations or explain your findings, the Department notes.

Education Options:*


Career #2: Graphic Designer

Would you rather express yourself through images than words? Your skills as a visual communicator could take center stage in a graphic design career.

"Shhhh!" Factor: Quiet people are often considered better listeners, Shatkin says, which means they may have an advantage in this creative field.

Why do graphic designers need active listening skills? In order to "really focus on what the client is trying to convey with the graphic," Shatkin says.

But taking direction from clients isn't the only time you'll find yourself keeping mum. As a graphic designer, you might spend much of your time figuring out the best way to use colors, images, text, and layouts to communicate ideas, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Sounding a little lonely? Don't worry, graphic designers aren't completely solitary. Being able to work in teams is also an important quality, as graphic designers often collaborate directly with a client or in conjunction with marketers, programmers, or other graphic designers, the Department of Labor notes.

Education Options:*


Career #3: Software Developer

If you come up with your best ideas during quiet contemplation, a career as a software developer could deliver rewarding work.

"Shhhh!" Factor: "Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs," according to the U.S. Department of Labor. While they may work in teams, most of the day-to-day work is solo, Shatkin says.

Daily tasks might include designing computer applications such as word processors or games, or creating the operating systems used in consumer electronics, the Department of Labor reports.

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Still, software developers don't work in a vacuum. They will need to address feedback from customers about programs they develop, says the Department.

The good news: if a customer finds a problem with a program, it's likely back to the quiet drawing board for the software developer, where he or she will work independently to fix it.

Education Options*:


Career #4: Database Administrator

Do you like to quietly and thoroughly think over the task at hand before taking action? If so, you may want to think over a career as a database administrator.

"Shhhh!" Factor: Talk about the need for quiet concentration: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in this career "a minor error can cause major problems."

That's because database administrators are responsible for organizing large amounts of data for important processes, like credit card transactions, the Department of Labor reports.

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Of course, where there are important databases, there are also users of those databases, which is why this career can also require "a fair amount of collaborative work," Shatkin notes.

Education Options*:


Career #5: Writer

Do you feel most comfortable when you're up to your eyeballs in research and facts - with not a person in sight? Then you might have a calling as a writer.

"Shhhh!" Factor: Quiet people often have a great ability to concentrate on slogging through information, Shatkin says. This kind of endurance can be a prized skill for writers, who, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, need to demonstrate strong research and proper citation methods to establish credibility in their work.

Writers produce work for many different mediums. In addition to writing for books and magazines, writers might create content for an advertisement, website, or TV or film script, according to the Department of Labor.

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Yes, writing is often a solitary endeavor, but a supporting cast is needed to see manuscripts through to publication. As a writer, you would likely communicate regularly with an editor or client, the Department notes.

Education options*:

  • Bachelor's degree, preferably in English, journalism, or communications

Career #6: Survey Researcher

Surveys are used regularly to help organizations test the waters of public opinion, but did you ever wonder who designs the questions? Survey researchers - that's who. If you're one for long hours of quiet contemplation, this could be the career for you.

"Shhhh!" Factor: The listening skills that seem to go hand-in-hand with quiet personalities can be the key to designing surveys that deliver reliable, meaningful results, Shatkin says.

No, surveys won't tell you how they should be designed, but your employers might. "Part of [survey research] is finding out what someone needs to learn from the survey, and that requires really listening," Shatkin says.

As a survey researcher, you could enjoy a good amount of silent work - like researching the survey topic, determining the best method for accurately capturing the desired information, or using statistical software to analyze the results, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Just note that you won't be spending all of your time on Silent Street. Survey researchers can also be responsible for conducting surveys themselves by facilitating focus groups or interviewing people over the phone or in-person, according to the Department of Labor.

Education Options*:


*All education options are those that are needed, required, or preferred by employers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition.


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