ISTJ Personality Traits, Career Matches, and Jobs to Avoid
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Famous ISTJ personality types include the likes of Angela Merkel, Denzel Washington, Natalie Portman, George Washington, Condoleezza Rice, Jeff Bezos, and Queen Elizabeth II of Britain.
ISTJ stands for: introversion (I), sensing (S), thinking (T), and judgment (J).
People with this personality are often referred to as “inspectors” or “logisticians.” ISTJs are truthful, uphold traditions, practical, logical, and dedicated to reaching their goals. Making up about 11 to 12 percent of the population, ISTJs are believed to be one of the largest personality groups represented in the modern world. They not only are driven by duty, but they’re also essential elements of the modern workforce and are a vital core to many families.
If you’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment and received the result of an ISTJ, you may be wondering what this personality 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 ISTJ means for you!
ISTJ Personality Traits
“What you know today can affect what you do tomorrow. But what you know today cannot affect what you did yesterday.” – Condoleezza Rice
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 ISTJ 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 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)
As an ISTJ, you’re an eager worker and a dedicated individual. You’re unlikely to shirk responsibilities, are accurate and patient when working towards a goal, and you can dedicate all your time and energy to completing a task. You’re an analyzer of your surroundings, no-nonsense, and are quick to take action when a situation calls for it. You’re never one to be indecisive, but if your road is plagued with unclear or impractical ideas, you may get frustrated as your deadline approaches. You thrive on clear guidelines that allow you to jump into action at a moment’s notice.
Two of your biggest annoyances are laziness and dishonesty, and thus in everything you do, you avoid those vices. In turn, those that you see as lazy and dishonest are instantly on your bad side. You value not only meeting expectations, but sacrificing yourself in order to fulfill your duty or obligations. Anything less, and you’ll feel as if you’ve failed.
Your mind is also focused primarily in logic and facts over emotions. You enjoy being independent and self-sufficient, and any reliance or dependency on others may be seen as a weakness in your eyes. You prefer to be dependable, rather than being dependent. Along with this comes your adherence to rules and traditions and your dedication to always telling the truth, no matter what cost or personal mistake you’ve made.
However, you are certainly not devoid of feelings, but you aren’t as well equipped to express them outwardly, either. Although some people may see your dedication to truth as a robotic or emotionless reaction, you know that below the surface you are a well of emotions and personality. You often keep your opinions to yourself, as you prefer that evidence speaks for itself — especially in your work.
Taken For Granted
Unfortunately, being a dedicated worker can also have its determinants, as others might take advantage of your sense of duty. Those that work with you or are close to you are familiar with the fact that you will always pick up the slack if there is any, often at a detriment to your personal well being. In fact, you may struggle with taking care of yourself, and you may even let transgressions and pressure from others go on for years before you break and are forced to address it. However, if you can be lucky enough to find appreciative friends, coworkers, and partners, then you may find that your dependability, truthfulness, and positivity are not only highly regarded but loved. When you can become a stabilizing role in the life of others, you can feel satisfied knowing you fit perfectly in place where you are.
ISTJ Financial Habits
Your sense of duty and dependability as an ISTJ can truly shine within your financial game. Not only are you logical about your decision making, but you’re also practical, and you’re not one to be thrown off by the constant flux of the economy. You value long-term planning and self-discipline in life, and that can reflect in your diligent planning for a personal budget, retirement, savings for college, and whatever other personal financial goals you make.
Where you most likely struggle financially is when new opportunities arise, and you feel inclined to pass them up out of fear that it might be a bad decision. You’re not one to take leaps of faith, and although not all financial opportunities may be right for you, there’s a chance you may miss some ideal situations if you turn them away.
Sometimes taking risks can be profitable, especially when you’re younger and have more time to see investments pay off. Instead of passing up any and all financial risks, try to set aside some money that you can use for those spontaneous moments. If an opportunity arises that might be profitable twenty or so years down the road, do your research and don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith.
ISTJ Strengths and Weaknesses
“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.” – George Washington
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 ISTJ personality:
Honest and Dutiful
As an ISTJ you have a strong sense of duty and honesty that is unmatched to any other personality. You don’t understand the point of being manipulative or lying, as it’s just so much easier to get to the point and tell the truth. Luckily, this honesty bleeds into everything you do, and within your career your honesty can transform into a strong sense of duty for your job. You are a hard worker and you can easily stay focused on your goals. When you say you will complete a project or do a particularly hard task, you mean it.
You’re also extremely responsible — another side effect of your strong sense of integrity. Everything you say is essentially a promise, and you’d much rather sacrifice your mind and body than break a promise. You’re loyal to your word, but also loyal to those closest to you. Whether you’re a member of a church congregation, or a senior fellow with a university, you will always commit your time and energy to those organizations and people that you’ve partnered with throughout your life.
ISTJs are also gifted with the ability to do almost anything. Similar to INTJs, you can easily take on any task that you set your mind to. You’re a “jack of all trades” and are eager to complete every assignment diligently and on time — no matter how new the concept is to you or how much work you already have on your plate. Your brain is simply a well of knowledge — primarily based in facts and statistics — and you can easily absorb new information, apply it, and understand even the most challenging details of a problem in order to find the solution.
Practical and Logical
Along with your inherent ability to do almost anything, you’re also extremely skilled at finding practical solutions to almost any problem. You always have a calm head about you, and all your decisions are based on rational factors. You aren’t one to emotionally explode or get frustrated easily, and so even the most difficult problems have little effect on your psyche. At work, you can very easily delegate tasks based on the effectiveness of others, and you can quickly pick up on the practical individual qualities of those you work with. If you need to delegate a task because someone else is better at it, then you very easily can find the right person for the job. This calm and practical nature also means you’re not one to take criticism to heart, but instead can approach criticisms (both for yourself and others) with a logical frame of mind.
Lastly, you’re a dependable and effective enforcer of rules. You understand that everyone involved in a project should understand their duties and roles, so as to make the team the most efficient it can be. You highly value traditions and societal structures, and you’re certainly not one to deviate from a set of guidelines. Without order, there is chaos, and with chaos there is poor work and missed opportunities.
Stubborn and Adverse to Change
Although you’re a responsible, law-abiding, and logical person, this also can create some trouble for you. All of your positive traits can cause you to be a stubborn and sometimes insensitive person. You’re a rule follower through-and-through, but the reason why you follow rules is because of your strong attraction to facts. The facts show that rules are effective, and work is done correctly when the rules are followed. Unfortunately, this means you’re extremely adverse to change or new ideas that aren’t supported by strong facts. You may also be unaccepting of personal mistakes, as you feel that following the rules, your factual approach, and thus your results are infallible. Although you might be logical about criticisms, that doesn’t mean you incapable of making mistakes or disagreeing with those that oppose your idea or method.
Insensitive to Others
In the same vein, your unfettered honesty can sometimes be insensitive, as you focus more on the truth behind the fact of the matter than you do on the emotional impact of that fact. For more sensitive types, you may come off as harsh and uncaring when you try to communicate your concerns or criticisms.
You can often be so focused on facts, that you forget that other people don’t see the same truth as you. Additionally, not everyone has lived the same life as you or had the same experiences, upbringing, and opportunities. Because of this, you can sometimes be so zeroed in on a singular fact, that you completely disregard the opinions of others — unless they can convince you of the facts that they know. If they can’t convince you, then you may see them as ignorant, and you may struggle to understand why they can’t see it from your perspective. Unfortunately, this can cause rifts between people that are hard to repair.
Unfortunately, because of your stubbornness and judgemental side, you may be unable or unwilling to share the burden of your work, simply out of fear that you’re the only one capable of doing it right. Your dependability and loyalty can mean you shoulder more work than you’re actually able to take on, but you also are too afraid to ask others for help. Because of this, you can slowly wear yourself down, resulting in severe burnout at work and home. Eventually you may be unable to deliver results at all, and you may feel as if the burden of failure is only your cross to bear. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, and although it’s difficult to ask for help, there is strengths in being vulnerable. It can be helpful — both for your energy and your mind — to let go of some responsibilities and ask others for assistance.
Best ISTJ Personality Careers
“I chose to pursue a career in physics because there the truth isn’t so easily bent.” – Angela Merkel
Although ISTJs are extremely dependable people, you also crave dependability — especially where your career is concerned. You prefer to work in an environment that is structured, can provide long-term growth and support, and that respects tradition and authority. Luckily for you, the best way for anyone to become successful over time is to stick to a specific calling, dedicate yourself, work hard, and eventually you can make your way into a stable and secure position that provides you with a healthy paycheck.
However, just like any other personality, your career options are not limited to the results of a personality quiz. ISTJs 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 ISTJ Types
ISTJs have the skills and ability to match almost any calling, but many of those with your personality type are drawn to very traditional roles within institutions or businesses that reflect structure, authority, and consistency. This can mean you favor jobs that have a military-like set of principles and hierarchy, as you flourish in well established roles that have a rich history.
You’re also extremely detail-oriented, and can easily notice inconsistencies. Having this sharp-eye for details pairs well with your honesty, and you can be the sort of essential member of a team that notices problems, reports them, and fixes them in a timely manner. Where you might struggle is in team roles where your responsibilities are not clearly explained. You may feel as if you’re wasting time trying to understand who’s in charge of what, and this might result in an incomplete or unacceptable final product.
You also have strong opinions, and are not afraid to voice them. If you feel as if time is being wasted or someone is making a wrong move, you’ll most likely become vocal about it. Unfortunately, you may not be very comfortable with change, and you may become a vocal opponent of organizational change that needs to happen. It’s best to accept that — even though traditions are important — so is change. You don’t want to develop a reputation of being against new ideas.
As an introvert, you do well in independent and quiet scenarios, where your own dependability and reliance on facts can be the driving force to help you complete your work. However, you do also understand the importance of teams, and as long as the rules are well defined, you can excel in groups as well.
Other aspects that ISTJs look for in a career include:
- Careers that uphold societal standards, traditions, or expectations
- Environments that don’t change rapidly, but allow for a slow and steady adjustment to new ideas
- Jobs with well established rules, roles, deadlines, and guidelines
- Jobs that allow you to create detailed plans of action that you can follow with little (to no) variation or deviation
- Leaders that recognize and appreciate your work or achievements, but without shining a spotlight on you directly
- Like-minded and equally dependable coworkers
- Positions that don’t require a lot of emotional input or labor
In general, the best jobs for ISTJs include:
- Architecture, Construction, and Maintenance or Repair: Your logical mind can come in handy within any career path, but within construction and maintenance you can flex many of your other inherent ISTJ qualities. Within building construction, you can delegate tasks, direct plans, coordinate with others, and use your practical side to find solutions for almost any problem. Similarly, maintenance and repair requires a very practical and sound mind — one that is willing to put in the time and effort needed until the problem is fixed. Plus, many workers in this field are independent contractors: an alluring position for introverts. As an ISTJ, you’re the perfect person for the job.
- Architecture and Construction
- Construction Equipment Operator
- Construction or Building Inspector
- Construction Worker or Manager
- Plumber, Pipefitter, or Steamfitter
- Sheet Metal Worker or Steel Worker
- Maintenance or Repair
- Aviation Mechanic or Technician
- Automotive Mechanic or Technician
- Electrical or Electronics Installer or Repairer
- General Maintenance or Repair Specialist
- Heating, Air Conditioning, or Refrigeration Mechanic or Installer
- Heavy Vehicle or Mobile Equipment Service Technician
- Line Installer or Maintenance Worker
- Medical Equipment Repairer
- Architecture and Construction
- Business, Finances, Administrative Work, and Management: You highly value structure and organization, and within business, finances, and management, you can find the rule-setting and dependability that you crave out of your career. Whether you’re working within a front-desk role, or your working as a manager or executive leader, you have the logical background to find solutions, you eagerly follow rules, and you can both set or meet the expectations of others. What you will want to look out for is joining a company or industry that is constantly changing. Start-ups are most likely too unstable for you, but more established businesses that have a foundation already in place might suit you better.
- Labor Relations Specialist
- Management Consultant or Analyst
- Real Estate Appraiser or Assessor
- Accountant or Auditor
- Budget Analyst
- Claims Adjuster, Appraiser, Examiner, or Investigator
- Compensation, Benefits, or Job Analysis Specialist
- Cost Estimator
- Financial Analyst, Examiner, or Manager
- Insurance Underwriter
- Loan Officer
- Personal or Business Financial Advisor
- Purchasing Manager or Agent
- Tax Examiner or Revenue Agent
- Administrative Work
- Administrative Services Manager
- Bill or Accountant Collector
- Financial Clerk
- Office or Information Clerk
- Material Recording Clerk
- Postal Service Worker
- Advertising and Promotions Manager
- Architectural or Engineering Manager
- Community Association Manager
- Compensation or Benefits Manager
- C-Suite (CEO, COO, etc)
- Education, Media, and Entertainment: Your love for rules and guidelines can certainly come in handy in education administration. However, you can also utilize your logical side to find solutions for teacher, students, and parents, and can also be a responsible and dutiful school leader. Within media and entertainment, you can work in a variety of roles that provide you with the structure and rule-following you crave, as well as allow you to enjoy more physical pursuits.
- Career or Technical Education Teacher
- Library Technician or Assistant
- Post-secondary Education Administrator
- Media and Entertainment
- Athlete or Sports Competitor
- Broadcast or Sound Engineering Technician
- Sports Official (Referee, Umpire, etc)
- Healthcare: As with other logical personalities, you might not have the emotional capabilities to perfect your bedside manner. Because of this, nursing and other health-aide careers are not an ideal fit for you. However, you have the factual and solution-oriented mind needed for more specialized care, and you can excel within healthcare when you focus more on the physical (rather than emotional) needs of the patient. As a specialist or trainer, you can find practical solutions for patients, can use evidence-based medicine and facts to guide your practice, and can rely on a steady and historic institution to provide you with a dependable career path and income. Change comes slowly within healthcare, which can be reassuring for you. Plus, many surgeons and specialists work independently or with a small team of people, which provides you with the freedom to delegate tasks and work with a small team of competent professionals.
- Athletic Trainer
- Cardiovascular Technician
- Medical Assistant
- Medical or Dental Lab Technician
- Medical Records or Health Information Technician
- Occupational Health and Safety Specialist or Technician
- Orthotist or Prosthetist
- Physician Assistant
- Radiation Therapist or Radiologist
- Surgical Technologist
- Legal and Protective Services: Another institution that is drenched in history and is slow to change is that of the legal and protective services. These jobs don’t just uphold the rules of society, but have the ability to create new rules as well. If you’re someone that is invested in your community as much as you are in your career, then these jobs might be ideal for you.
- Court Reporter
- Judge or Hearing Officer
- Paralegal or Legal Assistant
- Protective Services
- Correctional Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist
- Fire Inspector or Investigator
- Military Officer or Private
- Officer or Detective
- Private Detective or Investigator
- Probation Officer
- Security Guard or Surveillance Officer
- Production, Transportation, Sales, and Trades: As an ISTJ, you truly are a jack-of-all-trades, as you can easily fit your personality into a plethora of roles. Your logical mind can be utilized within a variety of trades and services, and your sense of duty can make you a hard worker within any industry. If none of the other jobs on this list speak to you, then you can always try your hand at production, transportation, sales, or other trades.
- Assembler or Fabricator
- Industrial Production
- Machinist, Tool, or Die Maker
- Metal Worker
- Power Plant Operator
- Quality Control Specialist or Inspector
- Stationary Engineer
- Water and Wastewater Treatment Operator or Manager
- Welder, Cutter, Solderer, etc.
- Airline or Commercial Pilot
- Material Moving Machine Operator
- Railroad Worker
- Tractor-trailer Truck Driver or Mover
- Real Estate Broker or Agent
- Sales Agent (Insurance, Financial Services, Commodities, etc)
- Sales Engineer or Manager
- Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representative
- Agricultural Worker
- Brickmason or Stonemason
- Farmer or Rancher
- Tile or Marble Setter
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM): Finally, your fact-based mind is always welcome within the STEM fields. Whether you’re working as a civil engineer or an application developer, you have the ability to solve problems, find practical solutions, and see your projects through to the end. However, where you need to be careful is when an industry is in the throes of disruption or rapid change. You can be overwhelmed by new ideas and a lack of structure, and oftentimes technology startups can struggle with building a reliable foundation. Luckily, other industries (such as engineering or sciences) have less rapid changes, and you can rely on these jobs to withstand automation, industry changes, and societal evolutions. Engineers, mathematicians, and scientists will always be needed to study the facts, interpret data, and find solutions.
- Agricultural Scientist
- Atmospheric Scientist or Meteorologist
- Biological or Chemical Technician
- Environmental Science and Protection Technician
- Environmental Scientist or Specialist
- Forensic Science Technician
- Forest or Conservation Technician
- Geological or Petroleum Technician
- Natural Sciences Manager
- Nuclear Technician
- Computer and Information Security Analyst or Manager
- Computer Network Architect
- Computer Programmer
- Computer Support Specialist
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Database Administrator
- Network or Computer Systems Administrator
- Software, App, or Web Developer
- Aerospace Engineer or Technician
- Biomedical Engineer
- Chemical Engineer
- Civil Engineer
- Electrical Engineer
- Industrial Engineer
- Materials Engineer
- Mechanical Engineer
- Petroleum Engineer
- Operations Research Analyst
Highest Paying ISTJ Careers
Logical careers are always in high demand, and as a dedicated and hard worker, ISTJs should always be able to find a stable and well-paid job. No matter what calling you decide to pursue, chances are you will stick with that calling for quite some time, and will eventually become an expert. With expertise also comes a healthy paycheck, which means you can slowly work your way up to a comfortable income.
Of course, you already have a step up on others, as well, as you can excel in STEM careers, healthcare, and management. Even within entry level positions for STEM careers, you can make a comfortable starting wage. Additionally, if you work your way up the ladder of management within a company, each step can come with a significant increase in pay. Your dedication to your work, sense of duty, dependability, and your honesty can all earn you a coveted and honored position within any company. If you have the opportunity to pursue a promotion, you should certainly take it, if it interests you.
Finally, if you work on becoming an expert within your industry, you can always dedicate yourself to starting your own small business or consulting firm. As with any startup, the first few years might be rocky, but you have the ability to set a strong foundation and the drive and practicality needed to meet your individual goals. Over time, you may be able to support yourself with a decent living through your own hard work and dedication to your business.
ISTJ Careers to Avoid
“I’d be more frightened by not using whatever abilities I’d been given. I’d be more frightened by procrastination and laziness.” – Denzel Washington
It should be noted that ISTJs — 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 ISTJs, any job that requires extensive human contact and emotional labor might be especially draining for you. You’re much more interested in facts than you are in being sensitive to the needs of others, and customer service or similar roles might be too demanding of emotional input. Additionally, you enjoy working independently and with unchanging structure, so it would be best to avoid jobs that require consistent change or require you to work in large groups. Without clear guidelines or structure, ISTJs can feel lost or as if their skills are wasted.
In general, ISTJs should avoid these career options:
- Art Director
- Child Care Provider or Preschool Teacher
- Craft Artist
- Dental Hygienist
- Graphic Designer
- Public Relations Specialist
- Restaurant Host
- Retail Salesperson
- Speech Pathologist
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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 26, 2018. It was originally published June 27, 2018.