ESTP Personality Traits, Career Matches, and Jobs to Avoid

Katie McBeth  | 

Famous ESTPs are easy to find, and include the likes of Bruce Willis, Madonna, Samuel L. Jackson, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Judi Dench, Michael J. Fox, Helen Mirren, Malcolm X, and Winston Churchill.

ESTP stands for: extroversion (E), sensing (S), thinking (T), and perception (P).

ESTPs live for the spotlight and adventure. They are energetic, intelligent, and can often be found surrounded by friends and acquaintances. Making up about 4 percent of the population, they can easily entertain large groups of people, and they’re action-oriented: meaning they’re much more interested on trying things for themselves rather than just talking or speculating over it. They may often partake in risky behavior, just for the adrenaline rush and the chance to tell a good story later on.

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 ESTP means for you!

ESTP Personality Traits

“When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m thirsty, I drink. When I feel like saying something, I say it.” – Madonna

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 ESTP, 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 be more concrete than abstract — you often focus your attention on the small details rather than the big picture, as well as focusing more on the immediate needs rather than future possibilities (sensing)
  • 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)

Daredevils and Rapid Thinkers

“Entrepreneur” or “dynamo” are common monikers for ESTPs. In a way, you are the “Evel Knievel’s” of the world — thrilled to dive into action and make rapid-fire decisions to plot your course. You are much more concerned about what is happening right here and right now than you are about planning out a future event. You live life moment-by-moment, and tend to struggle with highly-structured environments and mundane tasks.

Logical but Unstructured

In school, you may have struggled to finish homework or complete long-term assignments, but that doesn’t mean you lack intelligence. You’re exceptionally smart, and you enjoy pursuing or seeking out drama, passion, and pleasure in a logical way. You’re also a firm believer in the saying: “Rules are meant to be broken.” You don’t quite understand the purpose of structured systems, and you only live by your own morale code. Because of this, your energy and curiosity can often get you into trouble with authority figures. However, if teachers or supervisors can find ways to harness your energy and keep you focused, you can be an exceptionally hard worker.

Perceptive

You may be constantly thinking of the here and now, but that doesn’t mean you’re always distracted. You’re actually an extremely perceptive person, and you may make observations that many others didn’t notice until you pointed it out. It could be that a friend recently stopped a bad habit, or a coffee shop you visit made some small changes to the seating arrangement. You can easily pick out small changes in details, and you may be the first to ask questions about your observations. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be done with a lack of regard to the sensitivity of others, which can make some people feel uncomfortable when you point out a change that they weren’t ready to discuss openly. In the right environment, however, your perceptive side can be extremely useful in emergency situations or in business environments.

Engaging

Finally, you’re not just an engaging individual, but you can also be an extremely inspiring group leader. You have the charisma to attract all sorts of people, and your qualities make you exciting and entertaining to be around. Almost anyone will be willing and able to follow you as you venture down exciting new paths that inspire your imagination and satiate your risky behaviors.

ESTP Financial Habits

Impulsive Spender

As an ESTP, you’re probably not very frugal with your finances. Your penchant for seeking out adventure can often get you into trouble, as you’ll spend money on impulse buys, expensive outings, or even buying the latest expensive toy that will fuel your adrenaline-junkie side. Despite your aversion to structure, it can be helpful to set up a personal budget to help you keep track of your finances and keep your spending in check. You can even set aside a certain amount of “fun” money each month that just devoted to your adventuring.

Credit Card Danger

Additionally, because you often overspend, it can be tempting for you to sign up for multiple credit cards to support your habit. However, credit cards can often get you into more trouble if you don’t accurate plan out how you’re going to pay off your debt. If you have the ability, it can be helpful to avoid credit cards until you can better manage your finances.

Pursue Your Dreams

Luckily, your drive and curiosity can be utilized to create a sufficient income on the side if you decide to pursue starting your own business. You tend to have a knack for entrepreneurship, and you’re an exceptional leader, so why not pursue what interests you and make some money while doing it? Perhaps you can start up your own spelunking expedition business, or get into beer brewing, or create a scuba-diving school. Whatever it is that interests you, there are certainly people out there that are willing to pay you to lead the way. However, since you’re not very comfortable with long-term planning, it can help to have someone else help plan and structure your business for success. Find yourself a trustworthy partner that can keep you organized and out of legal trouble, and then enjoy pursuing your passions.

ESTP Strengths and Weaknesses

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” – Michael J. Fox

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 ESTP personality:

ESTP Pros

Bold and Original

The brain of an ESTP is enriched when it can be presented with new and fun activities to pursue. For you, exploring and pushing boundaries is second nature, and you are eager to follow your passion and seek out new adrenaline-pumping activities. You’re also very original and welcoming to new ideas and solutions. If someone presents you with a problem, chances are you can find a unique and quick solution that no one else would have thought of or considered possible.

Practical and Perceptive

Along with your originality, you’re also an extremely practical person. You enjoy dissecting ideas so that you can find their practical application, and you find pleasure in hammering out the small details that will lead to a successful finished product. You are much more interested in facts than you are in opinions, but you’re also eager to see how those facts play out. Although philosophy might interest you, you’re not the sort of person to have a lively discussion about philosophical ideas; you’d much rather see those ideas in action. You’re also extremely perceptive, and can easily notice changes in a room or in a person. You can also notice when things need to change — such as when a friend has a bad habit or when a project is nearing a dead-end. You often use these observations to your advantage, whether to help others fix a problem, or just to create connections with people.

Social and Communicative

As an extrovert, ESTPs enjoy being around people, and you may even prefer being in the spotlight. You’re a natural group leader — especially with the culmination of all your other positive qualities. You may not actively seek out leadership positions, but you’re a strong communicator and an excellent networker, so those opportunities often fall in your lap. Your communication style is both forward and clear, oftentimes being very direct and to the point. You see facts as either right or wrong, and your conversations reflect that belief.

ESTP Cons

Insensitive and Impatient

Unfortunately, your conversation style might be focused on facts, but not all conversations are going to be based on facts. Oftentimes you can get too caught up in being right or solving the problem at hand, that you miss opportunities to be empathetic, or you misunderstand the intentions of someone due to their emotions. You’re not as in tuned with your emotional side as other personalities, and this can sometimes make your responses seem insensitive or rude. In turn, you may feel awkward or uncomfortable in emotionally charged situations. Instead of solving the emotional situation at hand, you’d much rather move on and find a new and exciting subject to discuss. You’re also rather impatient, as you are constantly trying to solve new problems and are constantly working at a fast pace. If others ask you to slow down and explain, you may brush them off or become frustrated with their slowness in understanding your methods. ESTPs love to go, go, go, go.

Risky and Defiant

However, your constant need to move can also get you into trouble. You often seek out adrenaline-pumping activities, and try to push the boundaries for what is safe and acceptable. You love exploring new ideas or activities, but that often means those areas are uncharted territory, and you may find yourself physically hurt (or worse) simply by pursuing your passions. However, you’re much more interested in solving your current boredom than you are in determining if this current path is safe or what unintended consequences might come out of your actions. Of course, this also explains why you often act out when you feel trapped or boxed in by rules and guidelines. You’re not a fan of repetition, structure, or being lectured by authority figures. Unfortunately, it can be hard to avoid those problems in our modern world, and it can be difficult for you to stay focused and on task.

Unstructured and Unfocused on the Future

Again, you don’t like structure, and you often feel as if it can get in the way of progress or limit your ability to do what you want in the moment. Unfortunately, structures can exist for a reason, and if you break rules or try to cut corners, it can cause unintended consequences. Additionally, you’re always focused on what you can be doing in the current moment, that you often miss the big picture altogether. You’re not a very good planner, and this can cause you problems in your financial, romantic, and professional life.

Best ESTP Personality Careers

“I think you should take your job seriously, but not yourself — this is the best combination.” – Judi Dench

As an ESTP, you’re driven by action and quick decision making. You’re also social and charismatic, which means you can often have a large network of business contacts and professionals to help you secure quality job positions. However, you’re also easily bored by repetition, and it can be tricky for you to remain at one job for very long if it’s not harnessing your curiosity and desire to move.

Despite your aversion to long-term planning, it can be beneficial for ESTPs to consider your future down any career path that interests you. That’s because — 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. ESTPs 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 ESTP Types

ESTPs can have a hard time nailing down your career. However, if you consider all your best qualities — charismatic, ability to improvise at a moment’s notice, perceptive, independent, and risky but practical — then you can start to consider what jobs would be best for you. Unfortunately, getting your dream job won’t be as easy as applying and having a stellar interview (although that certainly helps). Many jobs also require an educational background and experience working entry-level jobs: both of which can be tricky for ESTPs, as you can easily get bored.

However, if you can find a way to harness your energy and focus on the task at hand, you may be able to get through those first few years of mundanity before you work your way up to a more suitable and independent position. Through your hard work, you can prove to your superiors that you’re trustworthy and know what you’re doing. Eventually, you may be able to utilize your boldness and improvisational skills to become a successful salesperson or marketer. Although you’re not a fan of authority and feeling boxed in, it can be difficult for you to win over your boss with your often precarious behavior. If your boss has the patience and ability to handle your more risky moves, then they may see you as a valuable asset to the team.

In general, ESTPs love jobs that can provide them with the action and adrenaline-rush you seek, while also keeping you curious and motivated to finish projects and solve problems with practical solutions. Your logical mind can be utilized in almost any industry, and your charisma can help you gain valuable connections for your professional network.

Other things that ESTPs look for in your career include:

  • Careers that can utilize your physical energy, mechanical skills, and athleticism
  • Coworkers that share your curiosity and logical understanding of processes or procedures
  • Environments that are either away from a desk, or have minimal desk-time
  • Little to no bureaucracy or outdated rules and guidelines
  • The ability to apply logic to find solutions for immediate needs
  • Work that provides unpredictability and adventure
  • Work that results in a tangible project, not an abstract idea

Some of the best industries and jobs for ESTPs are the following:

  • Business, Finances, and Sales: Although desk jobs are often unappealing to ESTPs, there are still plenty of positions within business, finances, and sales that could utilize your logic and practical problem solving skills. Additionally, because you are a natural fit within leadership, many management positions or supervisorial roles can provide you with the sense of independence that you crave. All of these industries also provide you with ample opportunities to network with other experts (such as at trade shows or marketing events), potentially expanding your company’s influence, while also providing you with chances to travel and experience new places. Within sales, you have the ability to showcase your charm and listen to the needs of others, providing them with an appropriate solution for their problem: whether it’s a new car or a new home.
    • Business
      • Business Development Officer
      • Chief Information Officer
      • Factory Supervisor
      • Property or Hotel Manager
    • Finances
      • Budget Analyst
      • Chief Financial Officer
      • Cost Estimator
      • Financial Planner
    • Sales
      • Insurance Agent
      • Real Estate Broker
      • Sales Engineer
      • Sales Manager
      • Stockbroker
  • Construction and Contracting: ESTPs love to work with your hands, and construction and contracting is the perfect industry for doing just that. Whether you’re inspecting the work of others as a building inspector, or scaling tall skyscrapers to install the final steel beam as a civil engineer, there are plenty of potential callings for you in this industry. Plus, you’ll often have the ability to travel, see new places, see through construction projects from start to finish, and use your athleticism on a daily basis. Many of the more risky projects could also satisfy your need for an adrenaline rush.
    • Building Inspector
    • Carpenter
    • Civil Engineer
    • General Contractor
    • Land Developer
    • Landscape Architect
    • Surveyor
  • Healthcare and Physical Fitness: Healthcare and fitness are both industries that could utilize your improvisation skills as well as your athleticism. Although you may lack the emotional capacity needed for excellent bedside manner, there are other areas within healthcare that could use your astute observations, quick thinking, and practical problem solving skills. Within fitness, you could easily excel as a physical trainer or sports announcer: both of which would be a perfect match for your enthusiasm, charisma, quick thinking, and energy.
    • Chiropractor
    • Exercise Physiologist
    • Fitness Instructor
    • Radiological Technician
    • Respiratory Therapist
    • Sports Commentator or Announcer
  • Protective Services and Transportation: There are plenty of opportunities for ESTPs in protective services and transportation. Both industries can often have unpredictable and even dangerous occurrences — something that you would both enjoy and be more than capable of overcoming. Whether you’re a firefighter, police officer, or EMT, your quick thinking, improvising, and practicality can be vital traits to have in those positions. Within transportation, you can utilize those same traits to become a highly regarded airline pilot or flight engineer.
    • Protective Services
      • Firefighter
      • Military Officer
      • Paramedic or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
      • Police Officer or Detective
    • Transportation
      • Airline Pilot
      • Air Traffic Controller
      • Flight Attendant
      • Flight Engineer
      • Mechanic
      • Mechanical Engineer
  • Sciences and Other Trades: Finally, if none of the above industries are interesting to you, there are plenty of other trades that could utilize your skills. Both biology and forestry are very active pursuits, and with your fact-based mind you can explore any theory that inspires or intrigues you. Within acting, film production, and photography, you can utilize your charisma, networking skills, practicality, and boldness to impress or inspire others, or create beautiful works of art. There are plenty of jobs out there that could be perfect for an ESTP, but it’s important that you keep your strengths and weaknesses in mind when researching potential careers.
    • Sciences
      • Biologist
      • Forester
    • Other Trades
      • Acting
      • Bartender or Mixologist
      • Chef
      • Farmer or Rancher
      • Film Producer
      • Photographer
      • Restaurant Owner
      • Television Reporter or Journalist
      • Vocational Teacher

Highest Paying ESTP Careers

As a naturally independent person with strong charisma and logic, ESTPs make excellent leaders within almost any industry. Luckily for you, being a leader often comes with a healthy paycheck, and as long as you can prove your expertise and knowledge to other leaders in the business, you can slowly work your way up the hierarchical ladder.

Additionally, as mentioned earlier when discussing your financial habits, you also have the drive and capabilities to start your own business. Although being a business owner can be stressful and require a lot of planning and forethought, you certainly have the ability to create a successful booming business with your natural talents.

If you find the right niche industry and can create the right disruptive product or tool for customers, then you could easily find yourself earning a substantial income. Of course, it takes time to build a customer base, and it’s important for you to create a strong business plan that can survive many possible slip ups or threats. If you do decide to become an entrepreneur, make sure you have a reliable team of people that can help you stay on task and grow your business.

ESTP Careers to Avoid

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

It should be noted that ESTPs — 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.

ESTPs prefer to avoid highly structured environments, as you can feel confined and limited when there are too many rules to follow. Additionally, you don’t enjoy repetitive desk work or menial tasks — you’d much rather work with your hands to solve intriguing puzzles. Because of your tendencies, you may want to avoid jobs that require a lot of analysis and research, as they are more focused on reviewing data than they are in solving problems.

Plus, as an extroverted individual, you like to work directly with other people, either offering them advice to fix a problem, or guiding them through a fun event. More isolated jobs, such as writer or animator, might be too lonesome for you. Lastly, although you love to give advice, your emotional intelligence is not as strong as other personalities, and you may want to avoid working in positions that require you to put forth more emotional energy than you can give. Working as a clergy member or as a nurse might not be ideal for you.

In general, ESTPs will not perform well in these industries:

  • Animator
  • Chemist or Chemical Engineer
  • Clergy
  • Craft Artist
  • Curator
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Electronics Technician
  • Librarian
  • Market Researcher
  • Medical Assistant
  • Organizational Psychologist
  • Physician Assistant
  • Public Health Nurse
  • Veterinary Technician
  • Writer

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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 July 12, 2018. It was originally published July 14, 2018.