ISFP Personality Traits, Career Matches, and Jobs to Avoid
Famous ISFPs include: Rihanna, Frank Ocean, Avril Lavigne, Steven Spielberg, Lana Del Rey, Prince, Britney Spears, Kevin Costner, Jessica Alba, Bob Ross, Lady Gaga, and Ryan Gosling.
ISFP stands for: introversion (I), sensing (S), feeling (F), and perception (P).
This personality is well known for their artistic flair: whether it’s painting beautiful landscapes with happy little trees, or being an aesthetically bold and unconventional model. Everything has the potential to reflect the artistic mind of an ISFP, and they love to push social concepts and break traditional molds. Making up about 8 to 9 percent of the population, ISFPs are the ones redefining conventional beauty and behavior. They refuse to be boxed in by limitations, and they love to experiment with who they are, what they can do, and what is expected of them.
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 see what being an ISFP means for you!
Table of Contents
- 1 ISFP Personality Traits
- 2 ISFP Financial Habits
- 3 ISFP Strengths and Weaknesses
- 4 Best ISFP Personality Careers
- 5 ISFP Careers to Avoid
ISFP Personality Traits
“I don’t like defining myself. I just am.” – Britney Spears
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 ISFP, 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 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 often give more weight to social implications than logic, especially in cases where personal considerations or feelings are concerned (feeling)
- 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)
Outgoing and Introverted
ISFPs are also known as “the adventurer,” “composer,” or “artist.” You are creative and driven, inspired by your personal relationships and new ideas, while also remaining a true introvert. You love to experiment with new perspectives and reinvent the old. In some ways you’re spontaneous, and your friends may be taken aback by some of your more bold and outgoing choices. However, as lively as you may seem to other people, you still need time alone to recharge. When you’re by yourself, you often dive deep into your inner thoughts, possibly contemplating your principles or worldview. If you’ve had a particularly thoughtful time by yourself, you may feel both refreshed and transformed when you come back to the social world.
Passionate and Adventurous
Unlike other introverted types, ISFPs are rather charming. You love to pursue your passions and push yourself, as well as encourage others to do the same. You have the rare ability to easily focus on what is happening in the moment. This can be both a blessing and curse, as you may feel especially drawn to rather risky and adventurous behaviors (such as gambling or dangerous sports), but can also easily tap into the emotions of those around you. With your laser-sharp focus you can either provide a warm hearted compliment when it’s needed, or use it to win games and bets.
Sensitive and Poor Future Planners
You are also blessed with a high emotional intelligence, and can easily notice the feelings of others. If you feel as if someone is tense or worked up, you may know exactly the right words to help calm them down. However, you’re less inclined to be able to calm down yourself when faced with negative criticism. You highly value harmony, and when you are challenged by others you can get swept up in the moment trying to defend yourself. You may even have an emotional outburst, finding yourself later regretting your comments but pretending they never happened.
Much of your emotional state is dependent on the moment you’re currently in, and ISFPs are always focusing on the here and now: never on the future, and rarely on the past. Because of this, you tend to be a poor planner, and can have trouble building healthy habits for yourself. However, once you can overcome the challenge of starting a habit, you can find yourself growing into a person that not only reflects your goals and values, but can pursue what you love.
ISFP Financial Habits
Not a Penny Pincher
Your personality is well known for being spontaneous. ISFPs are eager to pursue whatever it is that has caught your attention in the moment, and this can be dangerous for your finances. Whether it’s a new job that has captured your interest but pays less, or it’s a new startup to invest in, your wallet easily can be damaged by unpredictable spending and income. However, if you can work on creating a personal budget for yourself that can keep you accountable, or you can find a place to keep your money safe and hidden away (such as investments or withdrawal limits set up through your bank), then you may stand a chance against some of your stronger urges.
Bad Planner but Benevolent Gifter
You may also struggle with accruing wealth over your lifetime, as planning ahead can be challenging for you. This can mean that you possibly put off saving for retirement until it’s too late, or that you’re unable to save up for big purchases, like a car or house. If that’s the case, find a way in which you can start saving money immediately — especially for your retirement. However, you are a very generous and kind hearted person, and you may spend a large amount of money helping organizations that you care about or local non profits. If you do donate money regularly, be sure to keep your receipts. Many of those charitable donations can help you save money on taxes every year, and for you, every bit of savings can be helpful.
ISFP Strengths and Weaknesses
“The idea of recognising your strengths and using them in as versatile a way as you can is cool to me.” – Frank Ocean
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 ISFP personality:
Charming and Passionate
ISFPs are warmheated people, and many of your friends and acquaintances may be charmed by your natural and carefree attitude. You can easily let things go, which many may find inspiring, and you’re fairly relaxed in everything that you do. Despite your occasional outward shyness, people may see you as an alluring and intriguing individual. However, just below the surface, you can have an intensely passionate heart, and can easily get caught up in the excitement of a moment, eager to pursue your interests.
Curious and Artistic
True to your moniker or “the adventurer,” ISTPs love to explore. You have a constant curiosity to test theories, see results for yourself, and travel everywhere. Much of this curiosity can be translated into your artwork in whatever form your art takes. You love to show off your creativity: whether it’s in a traditional art form (painting, sculpting, photography, music, etc), or a more nuanced sense (fashion, choice of words, presenting statistics, etc). You tend to have a very vivid imagination, which can be expressed in both your art and how you interact with other people. You’re very visual and emotional, and this can easily resonate with your audience or peers.
High Emotional Intelligence
Because you prioritize feeling over thinking, your mind can be very intuned with other individuals, especially those that are close to you. You have a high emotional intelligence when it comes to interpreting the emotions of others and understanding their motivations. However, your personal emotional intelligence is not nearly as strong, as you can easily get wrapped up in your emotions in the heat of the moment. Luckily, you do your best to bring harmony to every interaction, room, or environment you’re in, and you have a strong sense of good will towards other humans. Your desire to minimize conflict (as well as your other positive traits) can make you a very likeable person.
Independent to a Fault
Although having a sense of independence is perfectly acceptable, ISFPs tend to have an overabundant need to not be boxed in by others or society. One of your top priorities is your freedom to express yourself, and anything that could possibly get in the way of that may appear oppressive. Unfortunately, that can mean that traditions, rules, guidelines, and even your job may be seen as a detriment to your dream. It’s important to remember that some of those structures exist for a reason, and although it may be challenging to work around them, it’s certainly not impossible.
Stressed and Erratic Self Esteem
You are not a fan of negative criticism when it’s directed at you, and often times you may shut down entirely if your mood has gone sour. It’s very easy for you to get stressed as an ISTP because you’re constantly living in the present and relying wholeheartedly on your emotions at that time. When things get out of hand or you’re reprimanded, you can easily get frustrated and lash out. Additionally, you can sometimes be a perfectionist, and your self esteem can be hampered if your artwork or environment aren’t to your standards. Plus, in society at large, art is often not as appreciated or accepted as you may hope, and even at an early age you can feel downtrodden simply due to your natural strengths seeming undervalued.
Unpredictable and Competitive
One of your biggest challenges is your lack of ability to plan for the future. You enjoy being spontaneous, and although that might be fun for social outings with friends, that’s not necessarily a great way to live when it comes to other matter such as your career, romantic life, or finances. Unfortunately, your weakness in this area can hamper your progress in achieving successful. Additionally, you tend to be competitive. Instead of investing in long-term plans to become a more successful person, you may abandon them easily to try to win glory in the moment. That gamble rarely goes well, and you can be let down when you ultimately lose. In this case, it’s akin to the race between the tortoise and the hare: although you may feel like the hare as an ISFP, it’s better (and safer) to be the tortoise.
Best ISFP Personality Careers
“I always believed that when you follow your heart or your gut, when you really follow things that feel great to you, you can never lose, because settling is the worst feeling in the world.” – Rihanna
As an ISFP, you’re not willing to simply settle in your career. You need and want a job that is both empowering and can provide you with the creative freedom you thrive on. However, due to your poor planning skills and need for independence, it can be hard for you to get started on your career path. School and higher education may seem pointless or limiting to you, but they are essential steps that you need to take to be able to get the job you really want.
Once you can get through your educational requirements, you’ll then need to put in the work to find the perfect job for you. As with all other personalities, the biggest key 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. ISFPs 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 ISFP Types
ISFPs are unique individuals, and much of the current workforce is not structured for your imaginative and creative mind. Where most businesses function on a 9 to 5 clock, you desire the freedom to do what you please whenever you please. However, there are still plenty of jobs out there that can both inspire you and provide you with a healthy income.
Primarily, the work you are doing should be colorful and immersive, the sort that engages all your senses and possibly even pushes your competitive side. Athletic careers can be a natural fit for ISFPs, but so can more intensive careers such as psychology, counseling, teaching, and more. Unfortunately, careers in psychology and counseling often require years of higher education, and pursuing all the proper certifications necessary for the job. If you can buckle down and get through those tedious bits, you may be able to find the perfect calling for you. Unfortunately, it’s just not the sort of calling that will fall in you lap.
Another possible career for you could be in freelance work: whether graphic design, writing, or a similar profession. Within freelance, you have the freedom to choose your own assignments and schedule, and can often make your work revolve around your personal, adventuring, and social life. However, freelancing also comes with a certain amount of paperwork, so be sure to research all the important aspects of being a freelancer — such as filing your quarterly taxes — before you decide if this calling is right for you.
Other things that ISFPs look for in a career include:
- Employees with a similar mindset and ability to be flexible and supportive
- Hands-on activities with tangible final products
- Quiet work environments, with little to no distractions or outside noises
- Supportive managers or supervisors that allow them ample freedom
- The ability to participate in causes that you believe in, such as volunteer work with charities
- Work environments that are aesthetically pleasing
Some of the best careers for ESFP types include:
- Art, Crafting, and Design: Art, crafting, and design is a natural calling for ISFPs. Although it can be hard to get started in this industry, there are many useful platforms being created (such as Etsy) that can help you build a customer base. Plus, working as an artist or designer allows you all the creative freedom you want, and you can often work on your own schedule.
- Art and Crafting
- Fashion Designer
- Graphic Designer
- Interior Designer
- Landscape Architect
- Art and Crafting
- Education and Social Work: As mentioned above, education and social work can be perfect callings for ISFPs, but they often require intensive schooling before you can qualify for jobs in the industry. If you can make your way through higher education to be qualified, then you would certainly enjoy the ability to work one-on-one with others, help calm their emotions, and inspire them to express themselves creatively.
- Art Teacher
- Occupational Therapist
- Preschool Teacher
- Residential Counselor
- Social Worker
- Special Education Teacher
- Teacher’s Aide
- Healthcare and Athletics: Within healthcare, you have the ability to use your high emotional intelligence to provide exceptional bedside manner, and much of the healthcare world is sporadic and spontaneous (just like you). Whether you’re a nurse or ER physician, you will always be on your toes ready for the next unexpected thing to happen. Although many nursing jobs don’t allow for flexible scheduling, you could always pursue more adventurous callings and become a travel nurse. Within athletics, you can utilize your physical energy and need for freedom by becoming a fitness trainer or even a professional athlete.
- Dental Hygienist
- ER Physician
- Fitness Trainer
- Massage Therapist
- Physical Therapist
- Physician Assistant
- Veterinary Assistant or Animal Trainer
- Legal and Protective Services: Another calling that offers spontaneity is the protective services of society. Although structure is not something you enjoy, you may find pleasure in being firefighter or police officer, as you’ll always have interesting experiences and stories to tell. As a paralegal, you can utilize your emotional intelligence to help clients find the right solution for their problems.
- Air Traffic Controller
- Police Officer
- Sciences and Other Trades: Finally, if none of the above callings are inspiring you, you can always pursue forestry or botany, or even a host of other trades. There are plenty of callings out there that can match your need for flexibility, freedom, and creativity, and some may even be able to satiate your more risky behaviors. Whatever you decide to pursue, make sure you keep your strengths and weaknesses in mind to find the perfect calling.
- Other Trades
- Tour Guide or Recreation Worker
Highest Paying ISFP Careers
For many ISFPs, being rich and famous is not something you really care about or seek out. Instead, you’d much rather just exist as you are: creative, free, and inspired. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t high-paying careers out there for ISFPs, and it doesn’t hurt to try to seek them out.
Art and acting are both callings that can either result in fame and fortune, or personal struggle and hardship. However, if you are an active artist that is proud of your work, you may find that there is an audience out there willing to pay top dollar for your pieces. It can be tough to get noticed in our overly-saturated world, but there are plenty of online platforms that can help you get the exposure you need. Acting work in much the same way: find the route you need to get exposure, and go down that path.
Outside of art and design, you can also make a decent income within healthcare and social work. Although neither will get you a millionaire’s income, they can provide you with a comfortable living and a very supportive retirement. Hopefully, whatever calling you do decide to pursue, it will have ample paid vacation time to allow you to live out your adventurous side.
ISFP Careers to Avoid
“[On being a drill sergeant] I was the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work. The job requires you to be a mean, tough person. And I was fed up with it. I promised myself that if I ever got away from it, it wasn’t going to be that way anymore.” – Bob Ross
It should be noted that ISFPs — 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.
ISFPs don’t work well in highly structured environments, and certainly don’t enjoy being forced to work a typical schedule if it limits their freedom. You thrive outside of the traditional office, and you aren’t one to seek out the spotlight. Because of that, you certainly wouldn’t enjoy working as an auditor for a large company, or even as a manager or executive leader in a business setting. You’re also much more interested in tangible products than you are in data and numbers, so marketing research or even engineering might be too uninspiring. Plus, many of the jobs below lack the creative touch that you crave and need to feel fulfilled in life.
In general, ISFPs would not enjoy working within these industries or positions:
- Aeronautical Engineer
- Biomedical Engineer
- Chemical Engineer
- Executive or C-Suite (CEO, COO, etc)
- Healthcare Administrator
- Marketing Manager
- Retail Salesperson
- Sales Manager
- School Administrator
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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 16, 2018.