INTP Personality Traits, Career Matches, and Jobs to Avoid
Albert Einstein, Ellen Page, Bill Gates, Kristen Stewart, Sir Isaac Newton, Marie Curie, Charles Darwin, and Harper Lee all share the personality of an INTP.
INTP stands for: introversion (I), intuition (N), thinking (T), and perception (P).
INTPs are thinkers and inventors, logicians and architects. They pride themselves on being unique and creative, being intelligent and pushing boundaries. They are responsible for many scientific discoveries and philosophical theories throughout history: Kant, Descartes, and Pascal are all famous INTP philosophers. Only about three percent of the population identifies as an INTP, which many INTPs enjoy. The last thing they want to be is ordinary.
If you’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment and received the results of an INTP, then you may be curious just how unique you really are. How can you apply your skills to your career, and what are your strengths and weaknesses? How can you start improving yourself to become an even better, more competent person?
Let’s dive in and find out what being an INTP is all about!
Table of Contents
INTP Personality Traits
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie
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 INTP 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 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)
INTPs are referred as the “logician” or the “architect,” as your mindset often revolves around one thing: logic. You want to find patterns and solve puzzles, and you may even enjoy finding discrepancies in people’s stories when they’re lying. You’re a truth-seeker, both in conversation and in life.
You’re also the most eager personality to find solutions to problems, and although you might not be very speedy in solving them, you’re extremely thorough. You don’t let anything slip between the cracks, and you’re not prone to falling for biases. Your mind is constantly buzzing, and while others might see you as a “space cadet,” you’re actually harboring an unendingly active brain. From the moment you wake up till the moment you’re in bed, you’re thinking, holding debates, and processing information.
You’re friendly and relaxed around people that you know or can connect with. Around new people, you may appear shy and distant, but you’re profoundly protective of your theories. If people are casually talking about a subject that you’ve extensively researched, you’re not afraid to jump in and defend your conclusions — even turning a friendly conversation into a combative debate if you feel criticized.
You’re also eager to share your ideas with anyone that will listen, even before your ideas are fully fleshed out or realized. You may use your friends as a sounding board for your theories, but instead of holding a conversation you might have an out-loud debate with yourself.
If you become excited by a new idea, you might run off on an incoherent tangent. A million and one thoughts are flooding your brain, trying to solve the problem at hand, and people with different personalities may have a hard time following your train of thought or understanding you. If people ask you to clarify, you might not be able to lay the groundwork for them to understand, and might instead just try to change the subject and move on from the topic at hand.
INTPs are intelligent, unique, and pride themselves in thinking logically about the world and not letting their emotions get in the way of finding solutions. With so many famous scientists and philosophers sharing this personality type, it’s no wonder that you’re eager to prove yourself and climb the ranks into infamy.
INTP Financial Habits
Because INTPs are so focus on logic and reason over emotions, you can actually be a very reasonable and safe spender. Your logical INTP mind is exceptional at making sense of complex financial topics like insurance or credit cards, but you can also be less tolerant of risk and ambiguity, making investing a challenge for you.
When it comes to your job, you’re more eager to have the opportunity to solve puzzles than you are to actually make a decent paycheck. Because of this, you might not bother to negotiate your salary or ask for a raise, which means you might miss out on opportunities to make more money or be paid what you’re actually worth.
However, because you’re also so easily swept up by your imagination and theorizing, it can be easy for you to forget your most important duties. In fact, to you money management might be boring and difficult. You don’t understand the need to set a financial routine because you scoff at routine. For this personality type, in particular, it can be especially beneficial to just remove the possibility of forgetting your financial responsibilities by setting up automatic payments on bills or direct deposit on your paychecks. You can work on creating a “hands-off” approach to managing your money. The less time you spend trying to balance your checkbook, the more time you have to explore your great ideas.
INTP Strengths and Weaknesses
“I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act.” – Bill Gates
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 INTP personality:
Imaginative, Unique, and Objective
Your personality can be summed up easily in only a few words: imaginative, unique, and objective. You have the ability to be open-minded and original, all without sacrificing your underlying goal of finding solutions for every problem. You see the world as one giant computer or machine: each tiny part playing an essential role in keeping it all running. You love to analyze connections between everything, from the most obtuse concepts to the most common problems. You can find relations between everything, whereas other people are unable to make the connection.
INTPs are also remarkably original and ingenuitive. You’re a natural-born innovator in many ways. You flourish in environments that can provide you with an outlet for your inner creative genius.
Along with your hyper-analysis of the world, you’re able to keep an open-mind and stay enthusiastic about new ideas or concepts. You’re very welcoming to new or alternate theories to old problems, so long as they’re supported by facts and statistics. In other areas that are more subjective, such as traditions or religion, you’re not interested in debate or disproving opinions — you approach is more with a “none of my business” approach. You’re much more interested in human ideas, and refrain from judging.
As mentioned, you’re a truth-seeker. You can easily tell when someone is lying, and you’re not someone to walk around the truth. You’re upfront when people ask for your advice or opinion, and although the truth can be harsh, it can also be beneficial. You understand the importance of kindness, but you value the truth above all else.
Due to the value you place in truth, you find fulfillment and purpose in being a logical and theoretical leader. You feel in a way that you’re a conduit to truth, and you’re proud to both radiate and find the ultimate solutions to many of life’s mysteries.
For INTPs, your introverted side mixed with your imaginative side can make it hard for you to break out of your shell. To new people, you may seem shy and reserved, but even to friends you can be very private. You rarely let people see behind the curtain of your mind, and you can even seem emotionally detached from friends or family. Since you give more weight to logic than feelings, your lack of emotions can be detrimental to your personal relationships.
Cold and Unemotional
To you, emotions seem like a human inconvenience, and you rarely allow your own emotions to show. You’re not as in tuned with your emotions as others, and might even shy away from them as you believe they get in the way of finding logical solutions. Instead, you wish emotions had less pull on humanity, and prefer creative reasoning over social implications or feelings.
However, this can make you appear very insensitive in many situations, and it can cause a strain in your relationships with people with different personalities. Being in a very emotional environment or situation, you can feel extremely puzzled and confused, and you may offend if can’t have an appropriate or timely emotional reaction. Plus, if people try to explain to you their problems in a subjective and emotional way, you may feel confused or bored.
Your logical side also has the disadvantage of taking over your attention the moment you’re swept away with a new idea. Many people may call you absent-minded, but it’s because this new idea has completely consumed you. Unfortunately that means you can completely forget about your duties or promises you’ve made in the physical world. You may forget to clean up after yourself, or miss important special events.
In addition, your logical side can also cause you to be condescending when people ask about your thought processes. If you’re asked to explain each step in your process and the listener can’t keep up, then you may simplify it to the point of insult, or even just move past it with a dismissive “never mind.” Much of this is due to the fact that you shun rules and guidelines — which can make you extremely innovative, but also can hurt you as you’re forced to demand autonomy while giving up security.
Fear of Failure
However, feelings aren’t your biggest fear — failure is. You may find yourself stuck in a mental loop, assessing and reassessing your theories, and fearing that you’ve missed an essential piece to the puzzle. This mixture of fear and self-doubt can be your biggest obstacle to overcome, but when you do, the discoveries you make are magnificent.
Best INTP Personality Careers
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein
Your personality is often referred to as “logicians” or “architects”, and certainly many famous scientists were INTP types. However, your future doesn’t necessarily lie exclusively in the sciences. Many INTPs are also innovative philosophers or abstract artists or writers.
In fact, INTPs can have many different callings — and even the jobs that are listed here might not be right for your individual career path. INTPs 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 continue down that path to become an expert. Once you can find a calling, dedicate yourself, and stick with it, you may find that you can be extremely successful over time.
Playing off your natural talents and interests can be advantageous, but in no way should you limit yourself to the results of a personality quiz. Keep in mind that no matter what you decide to do with your career, your personality may play a part in amplifying your success or adding to your struggles.
Best Career Matches for INTP Types
INTPs are thinkers, and having the ability to use your logic on a daily basis is an easy way to make you feel fulfilled at your job. This is why it’s so important that INTPs find a job that challenges you intellectually, allows you to analyze concepts, and apply unique approaches to solving problems.
You may be easily drawn to certain fields such as engineering, technology, sciences, and mathematics: essentially the core elements of STEM fields. However, these are not the only callings that can challenge and excite you. Because you’re naturally very creative, there are also fields that blend elements of technology, sciences, and art that can also draw your attention.
What interests you the most is the ability to solve complex problems in innovative ways. You’re not interested in traditional business hierarchy, bureaucracy, or organizational traditions: instead you scoff at old rules and systems for being inefficient. However, you’re also much more driven to come up with an idea than you are to actually see that idea come into fruition. In this way, you may do better in positions that allow you the autonomy to create a structure for an idea, without requiring you to perform the more tedious aspects of solving practical problems or creating the final product.
Other things that INTPs look for in a career include:
- Flexible and non-traditional working environments (many INTPs are also freelancers)
- Favoring ingenuity over conformity
- Independent environments and assignments, little to no supervision
- Avoiding jobs that require emotional satisfaction or repetitive service work
- Small businesses with minimal people and minimal business hierarchy
Some of the best jobs for INTPs include:
- Art and Communication: Your creative side can manifest in different ways, and for many INTPs, you can find fulfillment and satisfaction in the arts. Especially in areas where art and technical expertise intertwine, you can find a perfect fit for your intellect and need for creative and personal independence. Not only do the arts provide you with the creative freedom you crave, but many artists and writers are also freelancers, which means they can work on their own schedule and without having to report to anyone other than the client. If you feel that the allure of working freelance is strong for you, then make sure you fully understand your worth and how to price your services, how to financially plan as a freelancer, and how you can best offer up your services to clients.
- Animator or Digital Artist
- Graphic Designer
- Industrial Designer or Architect
- Musician or Musical Composer
- Technical Writer
- Business and Law: Although bureaucracy is something that many INTPs wish to avoid, there are still some interesting positions that you can find within business and law. Primarily, they’re the sort of positions that allow you to create unique ideas and be an expert in your field, without requiring you to perform the tedious tasks needed to see your grand ideas into fruition. Especially in the financial side of business, many of these positions don’t require an extensive amount of supervision, and you can use your logic to balance business finances and solve problems without having to explain yourself in detail. Within law, you can also be an extremely ingenuitive and creative lawyer for your clients, and work on becoming a legal expert in your field.
- Auditor or Accountant
- Executive (C-Suite)
- Financial Analyst
- Management Analyst
- Market Research Analyst or Specialist
- Sales Engineer
- Engineering: This field is a fairly obvious one for INTPs. Not only can you unleash your creative side, but you can also apply your highly analytical and logical mind to almost every aspect of engineering. Plus, there are many potential callings for engineers, and it’s a field that will continue to grow in importance as our world evolves and increasingly relies on technology. Although some jobs may be lost to automation, engineers will always be needed to help maintain, supervise, and create new technologies.
- Aerospace Engineer or Rocket Scientist
- Architectural Engineer
- Biomedical Engineer
- Chemical Engineer
- Civil Engineer
- Computer Hardware or Software Engineer
- Electrical Engineer
- Environmental Engineer
- Geological Engineer
- Mechanical Engineer
- Nuclear Engineer
- Etc …
- Sciences and Mathematics: Just like engineering, the sciences and mathematics are obvious callings for INTPs. Again, these callings provide you with the opportunity to find creative solutions, but many sciences also allow you to focus on complex and abstract ideas; even allowing you to create new theories to solve common problems. You can become a specialist in your field, as well as work independently, and let your creative imagination run wild while you try to understand the problem and come up with a solution.
- Anthropologist or Archaeologist
- Atmospheric Scientist or Meteorologist
- Biochemist, Biophysicist, Biologist, or Microbiologist
- Environmental or Conservation Scientist
- Geographer or Geoscientist
- Mathematical Theorist or Researcher
- Medical Scientist
- Physicist or Astronomer
- Political Scientist
- Psychologist or Sociologist
- Survey Researcher
- Urban or Regional Planner
- Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist
- Technology: Technology is another branch of STEM that works well with INTP personality types. In fact, you may find that at an early age you were always drawn to technology; especially computers. This branch of STEM allows you to flex your creative side and your reasoning skills. If you make your love of technology into a career, you can be an exceptional innovator within the industry. In fact, many of the people employed in Silicon Valley with all the major tech giants are of the INTP personality type. Besides the careers listed below, there are a plethora of different options for you within technology.
- App Developer
- Computer Network Architect
- Computer Programmer
- Computer Scientist
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Database Administrator
- Information Security Analyst
- Network Administrator
- Software Developer
- Web Developer
Highest Paying INTP Careers
Just as with any other personality type, the best way for INTPs to make a decent living is to stick with one career path and work on becoming an expert. With time, dedication, and perseverance, you can work your way up the ranks and be paid more for your knowledge and expertise.
However, INTP personalities do have a leg up on making a decent living because many INTPs are drawn to STEM fields. You may find that your knack for innovating and solving problems can land you a decent career and a healthy paycheck. Especially if you can work in a city that has a flourishing tech industry — such as Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Seattle, Baltimore, Raleigh, or Vancouver BC — you can easily obtain highly coveted jobs with competitive salaries.
Additionally, if you decide to pursue a future in freelancing, you may be able to eventually open your own small business. Over time, your business may turn into its very own tech giant — similar to Bill Gates and Windows, or Jeff Bezos and Amazon. All it takes is some financial backing to get started, perseverance, a great idea, and a strong vision for success. Additionally, if you find that your innovations are particularly fruitful, you may be able to work your way up the ladder to become a C-suite executive in a more traditional business environment.
INTPs are not natural born leaders like ENTJs or other personalities, but you are extremely imaginative, logical, and can lead many businesses down the road to greatness. In turn, you can find yourself making a comfortable living doing what you love.
INTP Careers to Avoid
“It’s better to be silent than to be a fool.” – Harper Lee
It should be noted that INTPs — 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 most INTPs, the best job is one that has very little contact with other people. Mostly this is because you’re not emotionally equipped to interact heavily with other people, and you often don’t have the patience to explain yourself. Plus, some of the jobs listed below require more supervision than you feel comfortable with — meaning you won’t have the autonomy that you so heartily crave in a job.
In general, the following jobs are not ideal for people with an INTP personality type:
- Correctional Officer
- Dental Hygienist or Assistant
- Elementary, Preschool, Junior, or High School Teacher
- Licensed Practical Nurse or Nurse Practitioner
- Massage or Physical Therapist
- Mental Health Counselor or Therapist
- Public Health Nurse or School Nurse
- Recreation Worker or Service Worker
- Religious Educator
- Restaurant Manager
- Retail Salesperson
- Sales Manager
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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 June 19, 2018. It was originally published June 13, 2018.