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Career Planning: Personality & Careers: INTP


Introvert, iNtuitive, Thinking, Perceiving - INTPs represent approximately 1% of the population. INTPs value knowledge above all else. Their minds are constantly working to generate new theories, or to prove or disprove existing theories. They approach problems and theories with enthusiasm and skepticism, ignoring existing rules and opinions and defining their own approach to the resolution. They seek patterns and logical explanations for anything that interests them. They're usually extremely bright, and able to be objectively critical in their analysis. They love new ideas, and become very excited over abstractions and theories. They love to discuss these concepts with others. They may seem "dreamy" and distant to others, because they spend a lot of time inside their minds musing over theories. They hate to work on routine things - they would much prefer to build complex theoretical solutions, and leave the implementation of the system to others. They are intensely interested in theory, and will put forth tremendous amounts of time and energy into finding a solution to a problem with has piqued their interest (1,2,8).

INTPs do not like to lead or control people. They're very tolerant and flexible in most situations, unless one of their firmly held beliefs has been violated or challenged, in which case they may take a very rigid stance. The INTP is likely to be very shy when it comes to meeting new people. On the other hand, the INTP is very self-confident and gregarious around people they know well, or when discussing theories which they fully understand. INTPs are autonomous, curious, detached, inquisitive, logical, original, skeptical, and theoretical individuals (1,2,8).


An INTPs Career Choice Should Probably Include...

  1. Working in-depth on one creative challenge at a time and the opportunity to give it their full attention without a lot of interruptions.
  2. The chance to apply logic to theories to find solutions and develop innovative approaches and systems but not get bogged down in the details of implementation.
  3. When given an environment which supports his/her creative genius and possible eccentricity, the INTP can accomplish truly remarkable things
  4. An opportunity to work on theoretical rather than practical applications.
  5. The opportunity to work on projects without having to lead or control other people.
  6. Work that has very high standards for performance, matching their own high standards.
  7. An atmosphere of professionalism and mutual respect, where their expertise is recognized and respected and they have some say in how they are evaluated and compensated.
  8. The chance to logically analyze existing and potential systems and make recommendations for strategically sound changes.
  9. An unstructured environment that encourages free thinking and improvisation, without senseless rules, unnecessary meetings, or paperwork.
  10. Usually brilliant and ingenious, INTPs need work where they can be independent and original.


An INTPs Strengths are...

INTPs are great strategic thinkers and creative problem solvers. They are especially interested in mastering and perfecting theoretical or complex issues. Quiet, serious, and thoughtful, INTPs are usually intellectual and complicated people who appear quite dispassionate and reserved. However, they can become excited and persuasive about their ideas once they are ready to share them. INTPs are logical and analytical people, with a strong need to make sense of things (1,2,7,8).


Strongly independent, INTPs are driven to increase their personal mastery of subjects and are drawn to people of power and expertise. They tend to be open minded, intrigued with anything imaginative, and may enjoy risk taking. They prefer to look beyond what is known or accepted at the present time and consider more creative yet reasonable approaches to problems or ways of perfecting systems (1,2,7,8).


INTPs are good at...

  • being tolerant and flexible in most situations, unless one of their firmly held beliefs has been violated or challenged, in which case they may take a very rigid stance.
  • using creativity and insight to understand issues in depth
  • being ingenious and having unconventional thought patterns which allows them to analyze ideas in new ways
  • logical analysis of complex problems
  • working on theories independently with great focus and concentration
  • natural ability to focus and get "into the zone" when working on a problem. They can absorb their minds completely with an issue, and work it through with amazing speed and accuracy. This ability makes them outstanding troubleshooters.
  • learning new skills and technology with ease and competence

An INTPs Weaknesses are...

Ruled so completely by logic, INTPs can sometimes neglect to consider the more human side of issues. They can be critical and argumentative and may dismiss the feelings of others unless they understand them and can see that they make sense. INTPs are sometimes so single minded and internally focused that they may not be fully aware of the world outside themselves (1,2,7,8).


Because INTPs use logic to understand their world, they sometimes don't pay enough attention to the emotional part of their lives and may have difficulty reaching out to friends when in need. They set such incredibly high standards for themselves and their projects, they can become discouraged when they do not reach or exceed them. They tend to ignore the more practical phases of their work and may let the follow through and details fall through the cracks (1,2,7,8).


Things to watch out for...

INTPs lack follow-through and this can isolate their ideas from practical examination. Their notions become over-intellectualized and too abstract to be of practical benefit. With their sharp critical thinking and analytical abilities, INTPs tend to nit-pick, hair-split, and generally overdo simple issues. Their desire for accuracy and precision exacerbates any error they may perceive in themselves or in others — they are, in other words, highly self-critical. Wanting to be competent and know everything, their standards grow increasingly higher. When fear of failing becomes overly pronounced, INTPs are quick to feel unintelligent, slow, and powerless (1,2,7,8).


If stress continues, the INTP's mind seems to freeze and block out the vital information it has worked so hard to accumulate. Their creative juices stop flowing and they suffer from stage fright, writers block, and a general inhibition of their ingenious thinking and fluent language skills. Preoccupied with performance failure, INTPs become self-consciously distracted in anticipation of their failure. If the stress becomes too overwhelming, the fear of blanking out prevents them from taking risks in areas they desire to succeed in. Attempting to avoid incompetence, they fail to gain the expertise and mastery they so desperately need (1,2,7,8). Other concerns to watch for:

  • being impatient, sarcastic, and critical of others less competent than they are
  • propensity for abandoning a project, once it has been figured it out, and moving on to the next thing
  • developing such complicated arguments or ideas that no one else understands them
  • being overly independent, unconventional, and original and intimidating others
  • considering only the possible implications, rather than the realistic applications of ideas
  • becoming negative and cynical if he/she feels the use of their strongest abilities are not being utilized
  • refusing to deal with repetitious or mundane projects
  • not recognizing basic social principles, such as appropriate dress and general behavior

Developmental Needs: It's important that the INTP place importance on expressing their developed theories in understandable ways. In the end, an amazing discovery means nothing if you are the only person who understands it. They need to learn to spend more time on the practical details and follow-through required on projects.

Careers INTPs Might Consider

BulletSystems Analyst

BulletCollege Professor

BulletNew Market/Product Designer

BulletDatabase Manager

BulletTechnical Writer

BulletForensic Researcher


BulletBiological Scientist



BulletManagement Consultant

BulletFine Artist

BulletOccupational Therapist




BulletCreative Writer






BulletComputer Programmer




BulletHealth Practitioner


BulletElectronic Technician

BulletHome Economist



BulletStrategic Planner



BulletRespiratory Therapist


BulletComputer Software Designer

BulletPlastic Surgeon

BulletFinancial Analyst

BulletSocial Scientist



BulletResearch/Development Specialist

BulletChemical Scientist



  1. Looking at Type and Careers, by Charles R. Martin, Ph.D., Copyright 1995 by Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT)
  2. Looking at Type: The Fundamentals, by Charles R. Martin, Ph.D., Copyright 1997 by Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT)
  3. Jedi Girl: Careers and Jobs - The Jedi Girl Internet Community - Concept and Design by Robert Jon Religa
  4. Career Manager (US Department of the Interior)
  5. The Virtual Office - may no longer be at this URL
  6. Hardcopies from an Internet resource based on the Kiersey Bates material - URL unknown/no longer available
  7. Personality Types Under Stress
  8. The Personality Page

Bullet"What Can I Do With A Major In...?" Bullet Personality & Careers Bullet



Ron Vick, MA, LPC
Counselor / Academic Advisor
Int'l Student Advisor



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