Largely because being bold, outspoken, and extroverted in general are valued qualities in the workplaces, traits like “assertive,” “loud,” and “outwardly friendly” are desirable to have when you’re looking to get hired, promoted, or just simply be successful in your current gig. But if you’re introverted and looking for a career change or to re-enter the workforce after a leave, you may be wondering: What are some solid options when it comes to careers for introverts?
As a reminder, introverts generally treasures their alone time, are less motivated than others by external rewards, consider their message before speaking, and prefer one-on-one interactions to group outings. If this only sort of sounds like you, keep in mind that these are only broad-strokes traits of what it means to be an introvert. That’s because there are four introvert subcategories, and knowing with which you most identify can be helpful for identifying which of the careers for introverts are best suited for you.
Which the 4 introvert types best describes you?
In 2011, psychologist and researcher Jonathan Cheek denoted that there are actually four introversion subgroups: social introversion, anxious introversion, thinking introversion, and restrained introversion. The differences between each essentially highlights why you’re introverted, which is super-important for making professional decisions.
“Knowing what type of introvert you are is key for finding the best-fitting job environment possible,” says clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD. “Increased self-awareness is empowering and allows for greater overall discernment as to what is helpful and supportive and what is not. Knowing the specific strengths and sensitivities that are part of each type of introversion allows introverts to select a career and work environment that is as tailor-made to their unique needs as possible.”
“Knowing the strengths and sensitivities of each type of introversion allows introverts to select a career and work environment that is as tailor-made to their unique needs as possible.” —clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD
For your consideration, the four types of introverts go as follows:
1. Social introvert: This is the classic picture of an introvert—a wallflower who keeps to themselves. They operate happily alone, and really bask in “me time.” For social introverts, canceled plans are a blessing, not a curse. While that doesn’t mean they’re unfriendly or even shy, it does mean that working on a team is not a job’s selling point.
2. Anxious introvert: The main difference between social introverts and anxious introverts is the clear delineation of, well, social anxiety. Anxious introverts tend to steer clear of social interactions to avoid feeling panicked by a sense of insecurity and awkwardness.
3. Thinking introvert: This is someone whose natural introspectiveness makes them come across as a little, well, head-in-the-clouds, if you will. While in this state, thinking introverts are conceiving brilliant ideas at a rapid-fire pace, and this ideating habit is what classifies them introverted—not any strong avoidant feelings against social interaction. So unlike social and anxious introverts, thinking introverts happy to work on a team.
4. Restrained introvert: Finally, a restrained introvert is someone who shows up to a party as a caterpillar, might cocoon in the bathroom for a hot minute, and then blossoms into a social butterfly. They’re reserved at first, but once they get familiar with a person or situation they’re willing to open up.
Great careers for introverts
Mistal says this is ideal for social introverts, allowing you to work more one-on-one with clients and colleagues versus being part of a vast conglomerate.
2. FREELANCE WRITER
Whether you’re a social, thinking, or anxious introvert, Mistal says this career option is great. It appeals to the story-crafting desire that many thinking introverts have, and allows both social and anxious introverts to operate independently. Furthermore, introverts are more naturally inclined to express themselves in writing rather than verbally. “Introverts usually make incredible writers, which is crucial if you want to communicate and create content for the audience you serve,” Lucht says.
3. MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Mistal recommends a medical environment for restrained introverts. The job security allows for longevity, and room to grow with their colleagues. “Doctor, orthodontist, and dentist offices also offer small, close-knit team environments and a steady, long-term patient base that the introvert can get comfortable with and be less restrained over time,” she says.
4. DATA ANALYST
Mistal says jobs focusing on “numbers, formulas, and spreadsheets” are best suited for anxious introverts. If you’re not into the idea of of interacting with people but enjoy seeing how they function via Google Analytics, this could be a good path.
5. TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER
Excellent for a creatively minded social introvert who wields a camera like a shield, Mistal suggests travel photographer as a great option for a social introvert. Because, let’s face it, using your photography skills to capture beautiful landscapes probably feels way more comfortable than the crowded, boisterous world of wedding photography.
6. CIVIL-SERVICE PROFESSIONAL
With a restrained introvert, the objective is to lean toward an industry that won’t be pushing out workers like a factory. Stability is their key to success, and that’s why a government job might be worth looking into. “Government and civil-service jobs are traditionally low-turnover, given their history of providing pensions and retirement benefits,” Mistal says.
The list of potential civil service categories include everything from foreign affairs (good for thinking introverts, as well!) and management analysis (could be nice for anxious introverts) to information technology manager.
7. IT CONSULTANT
For an anxious introvert who likes working with their hands but would rather eat glass than present in a group meeting, IT might be a fitting career path.
“I recommend jobs where social interactions aren’t a key requirement of job success, such as work with tools or machinery, like IT Hardware, trades, farming, construction or heavy equipment operator,” Mistal says.
Working within the sciences might allow options for the thinking introvert. Mistal asserts that this type of of introvert works best when they’re using their imagination, formulating hypotheses, and organizing concepts.
If you’re a thinking introvert who keeps putting off that big side-hustle project, now could be a good moment to make it a reality. “Introverts, in my experience, are also most likely to thrive running a business and being their own boss because they don’t shy away from executing on projects alone,” Lucht says.
10. ANY KIND OF VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
Positions that use tools like internet and other mediums that provide for indirect social connection are your friend. “Remote work is good for this type, as they will appreciate working alone and won’t feel isolated,” Mistal says.
Lucht echoes this notion, adding that you don’t even have to work for a big organization in order to thrive. Rather, you can use your powers to help level someone up in a one-on-one way. “If the thought of starting a business makes you cringe, the online-business job market is rapidly expanding, meaning you could work remotely for someone who has built their own empire as their virtual assistant, project manager, or copywriter,” she says.
Even knowing that there are ideal careers for introverts, perhaps you’re an introvert who isn’t in one. The good news is that you’re certainly not doomed for failure. Many introverts have a silent power of paying attention to details, keeping their head down while working, and creating thoughtful results—no matter what job they hold. “Being comfortable with the quiet is an introvert’s greatest advantage in career and business,” says Lucht. “They can literally do anything—and do it really well—because they focus intensely on the priority at hand while bringing their own unique and subtle magic to it.”