INTJ Personality Traits, Career Matches, and Jobs to Avoid
Elon Musk, Michelle Obama, Colin Powell, Jane Austen, Stanley Kubrick, Jodie Foster, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Nikola Tesla are all believed to share one thing in common: the personality of an INTJ.
INTJ stands for: introversion (I), intuition (N), thinking (T), and judgment (J).
This personality type is often referred to as the “mastermind” or “architect.” They are ambitious, curious, intellectual, and imaginative. Their mind is like a chess board, and they always consider all possibilities before making a move. They value theory over reality, and are extremely confident and self-assured.
Only about 2 percent of the population is believed to be an INTJ, and women INTJs are even more rare, at about 0.8 percent of the population. However, despite their rarity, they are shining lights, and many of them become influential cultural, political, scientific, or artistic icons.
If you took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment and received the result of an INTJ, you may be wondering what this says about you. How can you apply this information to your life and career, and what can you do to improve your weaknesses and harness your strengths?
Let’s dive in and find out what being an INTJ means for you!
Table of Contents
INTJ Personality Traits
“It’s an interesting combination: Having a great fear of being alone, and having a desperate need for solitude and the solitary experience. That’s always been a tug of war for me.” – Jodie Foster
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 INTJ your results are as follows:
- You tend to be more quiet and reserved, you prefer small groups of friends over large circles of friends, and you expend energy in social situations, but recharge when by yourself (introversion)
- You tend to think in abstract concepts, or think more “big picture” and don’t worry about the small details — often concentrating on a further possibilities instead of immediate realities (intuition)
- You prefer concrete facts over personal experiences or feelings, often giving more weight to logic than to social considerations (thinking)
- You rely on controlling what you can by making decisions early, predicting outcomes, and sticking to plans — predictability is your preference over spontaneity (judgment)
Referred to as architects or masterminds, INTJs are extremely curious learners and are constantly eager to gain knowledge about the world around you. Even as a child, people may have referred to you as a “bookworm,” as you were rarely found without your face in a book. You’re proud of the information you’ve collected over your lifetime, and you love to share your acquired knowledge with those that are willing to listen. One thing that you’re not interested in is gossip or small talk. You hate to waste your time discussing subjective opinions when there are facts out there in the world that you want to learn!
However, INTJs are also such unique and enigmatic individuals to other personality types, as you often have contradicting beliefs. For example, you can be both cynical of human nature — assuming everyone other than yourself is unmotivated or self-serving — but also optimistic of possibilities and have an idealistic view of the world. You understand that with time, dedication, passion, and intelligence, almost anything is possible.
Luckily, your idealism is unlikely to get you in trouble, as you often are extremely rational in situations that call for caution. No matter how eager you may be to see something out till the end, you’re willing to take every step carefully and to consider all possible outcomes before making a move. When it comes to new ideas or new approaches, you’re happy to hear these theories, but you first have to run it through your mind in a “will this work” scenario.
INTJs are open-minded, confident, and ingenuitive. You are an avid observer of the world around you, and you are eager to make changes that can simplify processes and benefit everyone. You’re also someone that doesn’t place much weight on traditions or rules. You’re much more critical of the world, and you’re eager to question the purpose of anything limiting your options or standing in your way. You give more weight to logic than feelings, and when structure appear imperfect or immoral, you’re eager to tear down the idea and rebuild anew. If questioned, you may immediately blacklist or lose respect for people that are unable or unwilling to understand your point.
However, despite all your knowledge and expertise in the areas that interest you, you’re most likely someone who struggles with human interaction. This isn’t to say you have few friends or find it difficult to hold an engaging discussion, but you’re certainly not someone to beat around the bush or spend time talking about trivia subjects. Even traditional social events — such as weddings or other celebrations — you may see as a waste of time.
You’re also someone that values your alone time. You can be confident and assured when you’re not in the spotlight, and you can think clearly when you’re alone or spending time with someone like minded. You thrive when given independence and freedom to pursue your ideas, and you are eager to prove yourself and win at any game you play. To you, your world and the people in it are all akin to a chess board: you strategize, make moves, and try to outmaneuver your opponents at every turn.
INTJ Financial Habits
As an INTJ, you’re ambitious and eager to prove yourself, and with your finances you can harness this energy to master your checkbook. Simply setting goals for yourself — whether it’s retirement, putting a child through college, or investing in stocks — can be enough to drive you to succeed. You’re eager to make strategies and find new ideas, which all can lead to further goals and financial achievements. Creating a well-crafted budget or investment plan can be useful, and will allow you the opportunity to flex your planning skills.
However, it can be easy for you to overestimate your abilities and fall into financial blunders. You may be able to avoid this if you seek out professional help from a financial advisor or certified public accountant (CPA) to make sure your financial plans are solid. Never be afraid to have people double check your work!
INTJ Strengths and Weaknesses
“If you can talk brilliantly about a problem, it can create the consoling illusion that it has been mastered.” – Stanley Kubrick
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 INTJ personality:
Your personality type is one of the most strategic of the MBTI profiles. Much of this is due to a combination of factors: you’re open-minded, imaginative, and a quick learner. You are welcoming to new perspectives or theories yet also critical of them, can find creative ways to apply different theories, and are quick to plan your course of action. Your combination of creativity and imagination might be useful in other personalities for creating art, but for you, you enjoy mapping and playing out many different scenarios in your head before you make a decision or plan your course of action. You’re also skilled at explaining your reasoning to others, unlike other logical personalities such as INTPs, that struggle to explain their mind’s processes.
Your open-mindedness can also benefit you in other ways. You’re receptive to new ideas that are supported by logic, and you’re particularly interested in ideas that might contradict or prove your own theories wrong. Additionally, you’re generally accepting of different ways of life, and are tolerant or receptive to social movements that promote the dismantling of toxic or illogical systems.
INTJs are also very independent individuals. You don’t need someone breathing over your shoulder to motivate you: your own curiosity and your inherent responsibility makes you a dedicated and motivated person. In general, authority figures or hierarchies are uninteresting to you, as they often follow a sense of tradition that you find pointless. The easiest way to get you to complete a project is to pique your interest, as you’ll efficiently take on any task needed to see the idea through to completion. Unfortunately, you can fall into the pitfall of bypassing what you see as redundant or unnecessary steps, but this can lead to mistakes. Especially in work scenarios, it can be important to double check your work.
Partnered with your independence is a decisive and unwavering support for your beliefs and theories. You’re willing to stick to your idea, even if the whole world seems to be against you. Within a business setting, you may present the most rational (in your mind) idea, and until anyone can prove you different, you mind is made up. Any other idea is simply wrong. Luckily, you can often remain detached from these charged conversations, and you can appear calm and confident to others involved.
In general, INTJs exude confidence in almost any project you take on. You trust and value rationalism more than anything, and when you can come to a sound and reasonable conclusion, you have no reason to doubt your findings. Additionally, your dedication to the truth means you’re never one to fall to politics or perceived social norms: you’re an honest communicator. Whether you’re discussing a project, correcting someone, or finding an error in your own work, you’re eager to come to the right conclusion, even if it means stepping on toes or exposing your faults.
With all these different traits — independence, open mindedness, determination, strategy, and confidence — comes the unique ability to do anything that you set your mind to. You’re excited to analyze anything that is placed before you, more than capable of diving into the methodology or background of any system or concept, and to take on any challenge that may be in your way. Because of this, you can easily join almost any profession. Once you can find a way to apply your talents, all you need to do is dive in, and you’ll soon be an expert.
Unfortunately, your highly analytical side also comes with its own set of detriments. Although you’re eager to dive into the meaning or methodology of almost anything, not everything requires or needs your highly-analytical input. Where this mostly can be a detriment is in human interpersonal relationships. Whether it’s your friends or a love interest, your critical mind and perfectionism should rarely be applied to human situations. If you do, you can end up hurting friendships or struggling with relationships.
You may also struggle with being too judgmental in your human interactions. You have tremendous confidence in your thought processes but also a total lack of regard for those that think differently. Your logical mind always outweighs emotions, and you may see your proponents as people that are unable to think at your level. Unfortunately, not only is that untrue, but you can close off your own mind to hearing out their idea — unless they can convince you through logic that they’re right. Arrogance is an unfavorable quality that you might struggle with.
In human relationships — especially romantic ones — your judgmental side can be a major detriment. It’s important to remember that being right isn’t always a priority, and humans are never perfect, so you shouldn’t hold unreasonably hard standards against your partner.
Lastly, because you’re someone that scoffs at inefficiencies and traditions, you may grow to hate highly structured environments. You may feel that the status quo is something that needs to be changed or broken, and you may feel that blindly following structure is stifling to human innovation or ingenuity.
However, this isn’t always true, and sometimes structures exist for a specific reason — such as to double check work, or create checks and balances for systems of power. Regardless, you may grow to loath people that follow these systems, which can cause you to clash with different personality types. This can make work and social interaction difficult, and you may need to practice withholding judgement in situations that call for a less logical, more emotional response.
Best INTJ Personality Careers
“Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude.” – Michelle Obama
As an INTJ, you’re capable of taking on almost any profession that piques your interest. You’re a jack of all trades, and eager to prove yourself and test your ideas. With this in mind, the best way to become successful would be for you to work in a field that can harness your curiosity and encourage innovation. 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. INTJs 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 INTJ Types
INTJs are certainly capable in many career fields, but where you can really shine is when you’re in a position to unravel situations or get to the core of an issue. If you can find a way to sort out the messes of others, or even reinvent processes into a simplified but intricate design, both your curious side and ingenuitive side can be satisfied.
Unfortunately, those sorts of positions might not fall into your lap. You will first have to prove yourself to others — especially authority figures — in order to gain the trust and rapport of your business. Pandering to authority is certainly not one of your strengths, but you can still show yourself through dedication and hard work, as well as being honest about your failures and promising to perfect them. Once you can work your way up to a position that really showcases your strengths, you’ll be able to flourish. Just be prepared to put in the time, and be patient with the potentially menial labor you might have to perform before you can make it to the top.
Other things that INTJs look for in a career include:
- Active and strategic positions within a company
- Control over your own plans or initiatives
- Coworkers that share your dedication and curiosity for your work, as well as coworkers that can carry their own weight
- Jobs that promote evolution, change, and progress (both for the company and for you personally)
- Organized environments, or the ability to organize the environment you’re in
- Roles that don’t require a lot of talking or collaborative group work
- The ability to be responsible for your own work and ideas
- The ability to work independently, in small groups, or alone
In general, these jobs and industries are the most suitable callings for INTJs:
- Arts, Architecture, and Design: You love the ability to plan and see your ideas come into fruition. You also love to work independently, innovatively, and with a purpose that interests you. All these aspects make INTJs into imaginative and competent directors, architects, or artists. You aren’t the sort of artist that would dive deep into paintings or design, but you do enjoy the more logical and practical side of creating, directing, or planning different art mediums or buildings. You also are eager to discover the underlying meanings of everything, which can work well within engineering, inspection, translation, and similar callings.
- Art Director
- Editor or Writer
- Reporter or Journalist
- Technical Writer
- Architecture and Design
- Architect or Architectural Manager
- Building Inspector
- Civil Engineer
- Construction Manager
- Industrial Designer or Engineer
- Business and Finances: Your analytical nature pairs well in business and finances, but what really helps you flourish is your organization and penchant for finding new ways to create and maintain systems. You can not only apply your logical mind to crunching numbers, but you can also easily pinpoint inconsistencies, notice ways to streamline processes and save money, and suggest ways to either enhance revenue or reduce costs. Once you can formulate your ideas and put them into practice, you can benefit any business that takes you on.
- Accountant or Auditor
- Budget Analyst
- Cost Estimator or Analyst
- Executive (CEO, COO, C-Suite, etc…)
- Financial Analyst
- Financial Manager
- Loan Officer
- Management Consultant
- Market Research Analyst
- Personal or Business Financial Adviser
- Sales Engineer
- Tax Examiner or Estimator
- Education: Although INTJs are not as emotionally equipped as other personalities to be empathetic educators, INTJs do have the ability to explain your mind and ideas clearly to others. You can make an exceptional and strategic college administrator or professor, or a more technical educator. As long as the environment you’re in doesn’t require a lot of hand-holding on your part, and your students are eager to learn about the subject at hand, you can excel at sharing your knowledge and passion for the topic you teach.
- College Professor or Administrator
- Technical Education Teacher
- Healthcare: Just like within education, your INTJ personality might not be the sort to have the emotional capacity to take on bedside manner that is essential to healthcare. However, you are eager to solve problems, and the human body is chalk full of potential ailments that need your analytical approach. If you’re interested in solving human issues, and are willing to put in the work for your educational foundation, then you can excel as a physician or specialist within the healthcare field. Plus, many specialists have the ability to work in small group settings or independently, which provides you with the freedom you need to really dive into your work.
- Physician or Surgeon
- Legal and Protective Services: You love researching, analyzing, and finding solutions for any problem. Because of this, INTJs can make exceptional legal advisors or investigators. You’re eager to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, and you’re not afraid to lose nights of sleep to solve the problem at hand. Additionally, you can very clearly voice your reasoning behind your decisions, which can make you a skilled orator in the courtroom or if you’re explaining your process to coworkers in a precinct. With the additional benefit of being able to work independently in many of these positions, the legal field is a perfect fit for many INTJs.
- Judge and Hearing Officer
- Paralegal or Legal Assistant
- Protective Services
- Police Detective
- Private Investigator
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM): STEM jobs and INTJ personalities are a perfect match for each other. Within STEM, you have the ability to follow your curiosity, solve problems, streamline processes, and so much more. Many STEM employees also have the ability to work independently, and most technology startups are small businesses with minimal staffs and similar mindsets: an ideal environment for INTJs. Within STEM industries, there are a plethora of perfect opportunities: from building software for applications and debugging programs within technology, to finding the source of infectious diseases and eradicating them as a microbiologist. Your possibilities are nearly endless, and if you’re lucky, you might even be able to start your own business based on your findings and inventions.
- Atmospheric Scientist
- Biochemist or Biophysicist
- Chemist or Materials Scientist
- Environmental Scientist
- Medical Scientist
- Political Scientist
- Computer Network Architect
- Computer Programmer
- Computer Scientist
- Computer Support Specialist
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Database Administrator
- Information Security Analyst or Manager
- Network Administrator
- Software, Application, or Web Developer
- Aerospace Engineer
- Agricultural Engineer
- Biomedical Engineer
- Chemical Engineer
- Computer Hardware Engineer
- Electrical Engineer
- Engineering Manager
- Environmental Engineer
- Health and Safety Engineer
- Mechanical Engineer
- Mining or Geological Engineer
- Nuclear Engineer
- Operations Research Analyst
Highest Paying INTJ Careers
The best way for anyone to make a decent living is to dedicate your time and energy to a singular career path to become an expert. With time and perseverance, you can earn both respect and praise for your knowledge as well as a high-earning position and paycheck. Luckily for INTJs, sticking with a single industry or career fits well with your character.
INTJs are gifted individuals, and because of your natural attraction to roles in STEM fields or more analytical and data-driven positions, you will most likely earn a steady paycheck throughout your entire working life. Even within entry-level positions — especially for tech or engineering fields — you can start out with a strong salary, as long as you have the educational foundation needed for those jobs.
Managerial positions aren’t necessarily for you, unless you’re working with a small team of people. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue leadership roles when they become available, but do be conscious of what the position requires. Although you aren’t necessarily drawn to leadership roles, you will most likely work to become an industry leader, simply because of your dedication and curiosity. With these highly-regarded positions also comes a healthy pay raise.
Fortunately, you’re also the sort of person that can easily start your own disruptive business. Your penchant for independence and your love for strategizing are both winning combinations for startups. Over time, you may prove yourself to be the next Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, or Bill Gates figure.
INTJ Careers to Avoid
“The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
It should be noted that INTJs — 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.
For INTJs, any job that requires extensive human contact might be draining for you. Your emotional side is not as well equipped as your logical side, and so taking on jobs such as medical assisting, customer service, or social work might prove to be difficult and frustrating. Additionally, you enjoy working independently and free of redundant structures, so it would be best to avoid jobs that require you to report to someone regularly or that have traditional hierarchies.
In general, INTJs should avoid these jobs:
- Advertising Sales Agent
- Dental Hygienist
- Home Health Aide
- Medical Assistant
- Nurse’s Aide, Licensed Practical Nurse, or Nurse Practitioner
- Preschool Teacher or Teacher’s Aide
- Production Worker
- Secretary, Receptionist, or Front-End Clerk
- Social Worker
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 June 25, 2018. It was originally published June 27, 2018.