ENTP Personality Traits, Career Matches, and Jobs to Avoid
Some of the most well-known ENTPs include: Alfred “Weird Al” Yankovic, Sarah Silverman, Tom Hanks, Neil Patrick Harris, Amy Poehler, Gene Wilder, Lily Tomlin, Jon Stewart, Gillian Anderson, Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”), and Chris Rock.
ENTP stands for: extroversion (E), intuition (N), thinking (T), and perception (P).
ENTPs make up about 3 percent of the population, and are often called “debaters” — for good reason. They’re the sort of people that love to play “devil’s advocate” and will argue points simply for the fun of it. They love to showcase their mental prowess, exercise they knowledge and quick wit, and find connections between concepts to prove their point. They are eager to see every idea from every side, and they don’t mind being an underdog in a mental fight. For them, the fun is in each question they ask and each idea they explore, not necessarily finding a solution, but simply understanding and debating an idea to its fullest.
If you’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment, then you may be wondering what this personality type says about you. What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how can they be applied to your career? How might your personality affect your life and your livelihood?
Let’s find out what being an ENTP means for you!
Table of Contents
ENTP Personality Traits
“I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that.” – Gillian Anderson
The MBTI test has 16 possible personality results, which determines your results based on the following:
- How you focus your attention or re-energize (extraversion (E) / introversion (I))
- How you perceive or take in information (sensing (S) / intuition (N))
- How you make decisions (thinking (T) / feeling (F))
- How you orient yourself to the outside world (judgment (J) / perception (P))
As an ENTP, your results are as follows:
- You re-energize around other people and prefer to be surrounded by friends or groups of people — you feel comfortable in social situations (extraversion)
- You tend to think in abstract concepts, or think more “big picture” and don’t worry about the small details — often concentrating on a final product instead of individual tasks that lead to its completion (intuition)
- You prefer concrete facts over personal experiences or feelings, often giving more weight to logic than to social considerations (thinking)
- You tend to withhold judgement or put off important decisions, preferring instead to keep your options open so that you don’t limit your possibilities should your circumstances change (perception)
Honest and Strategic Truth-Seekers
As an ENTP, you have an interesting juxtaposition in how you see and talk about your ideas. You’re an extremely honest person — always seeking out the truth and expecting the truth from others — but will also devote countless hours and effort into arguing for points that you don’t even believe in. Often, your reason behind this is simply because you’re curious and driven to see all perspectives of an issue — even the perspectives that combat your own. What better way to understand an issue to its fullest than to see all sides of it? In this way, you’re much like your introverted counterpart, the INTP.
Big Thinkers but not Big Doers
You love mental exercises, and getting the opportunity to stretch your mind and explore a new idea is certainly alluring to you. However, when it comes to putting your ideas into practice, you’re not as well equipped. You’re much more capable of brainstorming and envisioning the big picture than you are of actually planning out a course of action. You’re not very interested in grunt work or the essential steps that you need to take to see that idea come to fruition. This can often get in the way of your working life, but your original ideas are also a valuable skill. Luckily, there are plenty of other, more capable personalities out there that can take on the more monotonous work, and hopefully you can both benefits from each others strengths.
Thinking Over Feeling
Your unyielding quest for truth and honesty can often get you into hot water. Whether it’s picking apart the details of a plan your boss has laid out, or starting petty arguments with your romantic partner: your penchant for debating is not always welcome or appropriate. Many people are averse to conflict, and most people prefer you don’t point out the harsh truths of a situation. You may be frustrated by others’ attempts to simply lie or avoid reason in an effort to avoid conflict and remain sensitive. You’re much more in tuned with your rational mind than you are with your emotional mind, and can struggle with normal human emotions. Unfortunately, this also means you can struggle to create long lasting and deep relationships with others, as you’re much more likely to burn bridges when things go awry.
Independent and a Natural Leader
As an ENTP, you highly value your freedom and independence. You’re not interested in following the vision of others, and would much rather forge your own path. Luckily, if you are in a position of power at your work, you can often delegate the more menial tasks to those that excel at doing them, and can save your own time for contemplating ideas and debating different courses of action. However, if you’re not in a position of power, it can be difficult for you to follow through on tasks and earn the respect of those above your position. Your desire to play devil’s advocate can be your biggest challenge, but you also have the ability to argue for compromise. If you can find the balance between logic, progress, and emotional perspectives, you may become a more successful individual and leader.
ENTP Financial Habits
When it comes to your finances, no problem is impossible for you to solve. You can easily run the gambit of plausible outcomes through in your head — debating decisions and finding the pros and cons of every options — in a way that many personalities may struggle to do. Luckily, this rapid problem solving can come in handy, and you can easily find solutions when the stock market crashes, or when your finances are in a pinch. No matter how you employ your skills, you finances are sure to benefit.
Unfortunately, where you do struggle is with routine. You hate feeling stuck, and can very easily get bored when things feel repetitive — especially with your long term financial goals. You can avoid this, however, by setting micro-goals for yourself that help you stay on track for your personal finances. Set up a personal budget and find ways to keep things interesting. If you have some extra money that you can set aside every month, use that (wisely) to invest in new projects or hobbies, or to spice up your daily life. There’s nothing wrong with exploring new concepts, but it’s important to keep your long term financial goals — such as saving for retirement or paying off credit card debt — in mind and on track.
ENTP Strengths and Weaknesses
“My wife keeps on telling me my worst fault is that I keep things to myself and appear relaxed. But I am really in a room in my own head and not hearing a thing anyone is saying.” – Tom Hanks
Of course, just as with any other MBTI personality type, your personality comes with its own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Here are the pros and cons to having an ENTP personality:
Original and Knowledgeable
You’re eager to explore new ideas and systems, and because of this, you have a repertoire of knowledge and original ideas in your head. You’re also creative, which can help give your original ideas more flair, and you approach every opportunity for problem solving with a sense of excitement. Additionally, any new idea that is presented to you isn’t just absorbed, but you are legitimately fascinated by new information. Your commitment to learn and use that knowledge to solve problems is both inspiring and extremely useful in many career pursuits.
Quick Thinkers and Problem Solvers
With so many ideas in your head, you can very easily find the right solution for almost any problem. You’re quick to consider all the pros and cons of an idea, and can be very flexible when it comes to trying new methods. You also don’t hesitate to back up ideas that might contradict your own, as long as they’re based in logic and make sense for the problem at hand. Where you can really flex your mental muscle is in brainstorming sessions, as you can easily combine your originality and knowledge to suggest or reject any and all possibilities.
Energetic and Charismatic
Where others might see a challenging problem, you see a near-endless list of exciting possibilities. You are truly fascinated by accumulating knowledge and challenging your own worldview, and this energy can be both impressive and inspiring to others. Similarly, you have a level of confidence in what you do, that other people are often intrigued by you. Your charisma is on full display when you have the opportunity to flex your quick wit, and find new and exciting ways to share information or connect seemingly-unrelated ideas.
Argumentative and Insensitive
With such a strong thinking side, your logical mind often outweighs your more emotional side. Unfortunately, this can develop into insensitive comments, and you can often argue a point to exhaustion just to prove you were right. In the process, you may end up dismissing the emotions of others, and can come across as rude and argumentative. Your quest for truth can also cause tension in conversations, and you may not notice how others are effected until they lash out or walk away. You’re accustomed to exceeding the tolerance levels of others, although you may not realize it until it’s too late.
Averse to Practical Work
As much as you love to solve problems as an ENTP, you do not enjoy the labor that might be involved in fixing those problems. You’re much more of a big ideas person than you are a small task person, and you are often bored with the essential, routine labor that needs to be done. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a team of people to help you work through your project, your grand ideas may never see the light of day, as you’re much more interested in pursuing new ideas that call for your creative flair. In the end, your strengths can often be seen as counter-productive to day-to-day operations that rely on routine maintenance and menial labor.
Again, you’re not very in tuned with the emotions of others, and as an ENTP you can sometimes be ignorant of tolerance levels and situations that call for empathy. Unfortunately, that means you can be very intolerant to emotional cries from others, especially if it involves an idea that has very little backing in logic. You are quick to dismiss others when a suggestion falls flat to rational scrutiny, but not all suggestions are going to be based in facts. Becoming more in tuned with your emotional side can help you become a more practical and well-rounded individual.
Independent to a Fault
You’re also a very independent person, but sometimes that need for independence can get in the way of progress. Especially within your career, you can easily get swept away with your own ideas, and might even get in trouble for not staying on task. It is easy for you to get bored, and your initial reaction may be to drop everything and work on something exciting and new. Unfortunately, that’s not always the best course of action.
Best ENTP Personality Careers
“The road to success is always under construction.” – Lily Tomlin
As an ENTP, you have a versatile set of skills that can come in handy within almost any career path. However, you may not be able to showcase your skills until you’ve spent years working within lower, menial jobs. Unfortunately, you may find yourself getting easily bored or distracted, but putting in the time to work your way up the hierarchical ladder is certainly worth it. As with all other personalities, the biggest key for you to become successful is to work in a field that aligns well with your personal belief system and values. Once you can find a calling, dedicate yourself, and stick with it, you may find that you can be extremely successful over time.
However, just like any other personality, your career options are not limited to the results of a personality quiz. ENTPs can perform well in any industry, and the trick is to play off your natural talents to find a calling that best suits you and to stick with it to become an expert. No matter what your MBTI result maybe, there’s a future for you down many different career paths.
Best Career Matches for ENTP Types
The ideal career for an ENTP is one that both offers chances for problem solving, as well as provides you with chances to push your creative limits. You’ll happily utilize your brainstorming skills, and any industry you choose is going to have some sort of problem that could benefit from your ideas. Luckily, some of the most mental careers out there are also some of the most independent, which fits well with your need to explore concepts freely. These callings include engineering, art (acting or photography), and entrepreneurship.
Additionally, you have the added benefit of being charismatic and an excellent, logical communicator — both of which can come in handy within leadership positions. Although you may feel a bit constrained by bureaucracy, you do have some natural leadership qualities, and you can excel by delegating the menial tasks needed to see your idea come to fruition to more capable individuals. Additionally, your eagerness and excitement to learn any and all perspectives can easily make you an expert in the field. Whether it’s the sciences or simply business acumen, you can quickly become a well-respected leader within the industry of your choosing.
You are also attracted to a sense of personal freedom, and you want your job to provide you with the ability to pursue whatever you want. You also want to work for a company that isn’t bogged down by tradition or routine. Because of this, you may be naturally attracted to freelance positions, which allow you the opportunity to work on your own schedule, at your own pace, and with your own discretion. Freelance consulting may be ideal, but there are also plenty of opportunities within art, writing, web design, and more.
Other things that ENTPs look for in your career include:
- Conceptual work that requires little physical labor on your part
- Constant opportunities for growth and acquiring personal or professional knowledge
- Few limitations on your ability to perform your duties
- The opportunity to apply innovative solutions to problems to improve efficiency or effectiveness of a system
Some of the best industries and jobs for ENTPs are the following:
- Art and Design: The art and design fields can offer you plenty of opportunities to play off your strengths, including being creative, problem solving, showcasing your charisma and expertise, and being an independent worker. There are many famous ENTPs that are successful actors or personalities, and you can easily follow in their footsteps if the spotlight is calling to you. Additionally, careers within design are always requiring a logical mind that can notice and solve problems quickly and efficiently, without necessarily requiring you to be the person to actually fix the issue.
- Art Director
- Creative Director
- Film Producer or Director
- Urban Planner or Civil Engineer
- Business, Marketing, and Management: ENTPs can make natural leaders, and where you can showcase this well is within the business and marketing industries. Not only do these fields require creative solutions and constant problem solving, but they can also provide you with the personal freedom you crave to pursue your own interests — that is, as long as you find the right company that fits your professional and cultural needs. Additionally, you can easily work on becoming an expert within your industry, and eventually earn the respect and trust to become a top leader within your chosen company.
- Ad Account Executive
- Executive (CEO, COO, C-Suite etc)
- Human Resources Manager or Recruiter
- Management Consultant
- Market Researcher
- Marketing Manager
- Property Manager
- Legal Services, Finances, and Sales: If there’s one calling that is perfect for ENTPs, it’s being an attorney or lawyer. Within this profession, you can utilize your intellect and natural debating skills to defend your client or prove the guilt of those on the stand. Plus, your eagerness to learn and grow constantly can make you a fast legal expert. In a similar way, your expertise and charisma can come in handy within sales, and your desire for truth and problem solving can easily be translated into a financial role. Although you might not be attracted to the more menial side of these careers, you can excel within other areas, and may even be able to hire an assistant to help you keep track of paperwork, numbers, and your clients.
- Attorney or Lawyer
- Financial Planner
- Certified Personal Accountant (CPA)
- Real Estate Agent
- Venture Capitalist
- Sciences and Engineering: Whether within the sciences or engineering, your natural attraction to problem solving can make you an exceptional worker within these fields. Troubleshooting is often an essential part of the job, and you certainly have the ability to approach every problem with a creative, knowledgeable, and logical mindset needed to find a solution. You may be such a perfect fit for this job, that you may even notice problems before anyone else.
- Environmental Scientist
- Political Scientist
- Social Scientist
- Organizational Psychologist
- Aerospace Engineer
- Civil Engineer
- Software Engineer
Highest Paying ENTP Careers
As an ENTP, you’ve been blessed with some unique and covetted strengths; primarily your creative problem solving and ability to accrue and apply your knowledge to decision making. You also are extremely flexible, willing to accept differences and believe others as long as they can present their idea on the basis of fact and logic.
Due to all your qualities, you can make a natural leader within your industry, and as a leader you can often grow into top-earning positions. You will, of course, have some challenges along the way, but as long as you can prove your talents to those above you, you can earn the respect of those around you.
Luckily, you also have the talents to become an exceptional freelance worker, and you may be able to apply your charisma and knowledge to become far more successful as a free agent than a general employee. Just be sure that if you do decide to become a freelancer, you fully prepare for the challenges ahead (especially with your taxes and personal finances). Long term planning might not be one of your strong suites, but if you become a freelancer, it will be an essential skill that you will want to master.
Other callings that might help you earn a high paycheck include engineering, executive (C-suite) positions, acting, architect, management consulting, and software development. No matter what calling interests you, the best way to earn a high-paycheck is to dedicate yourself, stick with it, and become an expert.
ENTP Careers to Avoid
“You don’t need to be defined by your job.” – Alfred “Weird Al” Yankovic
It should be noted that ENTPs — or any other personality, for that matter — can succeed in any career. However, there are some careers that might better match your personal talents, mode of thinking, or natural behavior. If your career is not playing off your natural inclinations, then you could find that job draining, unappealing, or might even suffer from burnout. It could be that you need to quit your job and switch career paths.
ENTPs can feel restrained and confined by heavily bureaucratic or structured work environments, and you most certainly wouldn’t enjoy working within military-like environments. Additionally, because you’re much more interested in the big picture and are easily-bored with menial tasks, doing repetitive work that requires a serious attention to detail might be difficult for you. It’s most likely best that you avoid receptionist, front desk, or administrative assisting roles. Additionally, your emotional intelligence isn’t as well developed as other personalities, and because of this you may struggle with developing an appropriate bedside manner. That can make many healthcare careers difficult for you.
In general, ENTPs will not perform well in these industries:
- Administrative Assistant
- Airline Pilot
- Bank Teller
- Elementary or Preschool Teacher
- Factory Supervisor
- Family Physician
- Library Assistant or Librarian
- Medical Assistant
- Medical Records Technician
- Military Officer or Private
- Nurse’s Aide or Nurse Practitioner
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Katie McBeth is a researcher and writer out of Boise, ID, with experience in marketing for small businesses and management. Her favorite subject of study is millennials, and she has been featured on Fortune Magazine and the Quiet Revolution. She researches SEO strategies during the day, and freelances at night. You can follow her writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter: @ktmcbeth
This post was updated February 28, 2019. It was originally published July 25, 2018.