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Career Planning: Personality & Careers: ISTJ


Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging - ISTJs represent approximately 6% of the population. ISTJs are quiet and reserved individuals who are interested in security and peaceful living. They have a strong internal sense of duty which lends them a serious air and the motivation to follow through on tasks and they are extremely dependable on following through with things which they have promised. Organized and methodical in their approach, they can generally succeed at any task which they undertake. They place great importance on honesty and integrity and can be depended on to do the right thing for their families and communities (1,2,8).

While they generally take things very seriously, ISTJs also usually have an offbeat sense of humor and can be a lot of fun - especially at family or work-related gatherings. They tend to believe in laws and traditions, and expect the same from others. They're not comfortable with breaking laws or going against the rules. If they are able to see a good reason for stepping outside of the established mode of doing things, the ISTJ will support that effort. However, ISTJs more often tend to believe that things should be done according to procedures and plans, almost to a fault. If taken too far, the need for procedure and plans may become an obsession with structure, leading them to do everything "by the book." ISTJs have a strong sense of duty and they sometimes get more work piled on them than they can reasonably handle because their sense of duty makes it difficult for them to say "No." They are loyal, faithful, conservative, decisive, factual, organized, realistic, sensible, and dependable individuals (1,2,8).

An ISTJs Career Choice Should Probably Include...

  1. The opportunity to use their excellent organizational skills and their powers of concentration to create order and structure.
  2. A position in which precision and technological know-how are required and they can work with facts and concrete information
  3. A stable and traditional work environment, with a clear reporting structure and explicit expectations.
  4. The opportunity to work on one project at a time, with plenty of time to plan their work and execute it without interruption.
  5. Work that involves real products and services, where they can see the immediate results of their efforts, and where they are evaluated on their merits.
  6. A position in which they are not dealing with nurturing or relationship-oriented work.
  7. A promotional system that rewards their hard work, experience, and accomplishments with increasing levels of responsibility and compensation.
  8. Opportunities to develop and then use their technical skills in subjects they can see the practical use of and fully understand.

An ISTJs Strengths are...

ISTJs are quiet, serious, and traditional people, who communicate in a style that is clear, simple, and direct. They are careful observers with a realistic and practical perspective that guides their lives. They notice details that interest or relate to them and have great memories for thing they have personally experienced. They like to think things through before acting and tend to be cautious about change. ISTJs are responsible, stable, and capable in all situations they know (1,2,7,8).

Conscientious and logical, ISTJs like to make decisions that are sensible and that help things stay orderly arid efficient. Very organized and productive, they are duty bound, hard workers with a great ability to concentrate and get things done. They like to be judged on their merits and are fair and consistent when dealing with others. They take all their commitments seriously and prefer people who are genuine and down to earth (1,2,7,8).


ISTJs are good at...

  • making decisions objectively and applying logic and rational thinking
  • following and adhering to established routines and procedures
  • working alone without being supervised or needing to socialize, but they also work well in groups if the need arises
  • handling situations of conflict, high pressure, or stress with a calm persona
  • completing all parts of their work with accuracy and communicating what's on their minds with precision
  • accomplishing almost anything if they put their minds to it
  • taking any task and defining it, organizing it, planning it, and implementing it through to completion
  • remembering the important details of projects and not letting them fall through the cracks

An ISTJs Weaknesses are...

ISTJs tend to be skeptical and sometimes suspicious of untested ways of doing things. They prefer to trust proven facts and experience and are leery of trying new methods. They often miss opportunities because they adopt a "wait and see" approach rather than take immediate action. They can get lost in the details of their work and lose sight of the larger context or purpose of their work. ISTJs may become discouraged when they can't see a way out of a bad situation (1,2,7,8).


Because they have such clear and unquestionable standards of right and wrong, and are often conservative in nature, ISTJs can be rigid. They may demand conformity to their way of doing things and not encourage or allow other, less conventional methods to be tried. ISTJs exhibit a calm and cool exterior and can be perceived as having a disinterested or uncaring attitude about what's going on around them. They don't naturally offer their insights or feelings unless they are asked and are comfortable with the people around them (1,2,7,8).


Things to watch out for...

When their skills at maintaining the structures that they believe hold up society fall short of achieving the security they are striving toward, ISTJs become tired and weary. If the stress becomes overwhelming, ISTJs become immobilized and cannot fill the responsibilities that they consider necessary for rightful membership within their community. ISTJs may then further increase their attention on the details of the situation that is causing them stress. This sometimes results in accusations by those around them that the ISTJ is becoming over-demanding, irritable, inflexible, and impatient with others (1,2,7,8).


Fearing the breakdown of a trustworthy system and dreading becoming an outcast, the ISTJ may feel like energy is being drained from their bodies. Fatigue will set in and it will be exacerbated by a loss of sleep and of appetite. Depleted of their resources, ISTJs will be unable to meet many of their obligations or fulfill their duties to their work and to others. Not being able to fulfill this basic need, the ISTJ becomes further stressed and almost incapacitated by listlessness —making it all the more difficult be responsive to others (1,2,7,8). Other concerns to watch for:

  • their value for structure may seem rigid to others
  • avoiding trying new ways of doing things or untested approaches
  • being uncomfortable expressing affection and emotion to others
  • tendency to believe that they're always right and discouraging dissension or resisting change
  • making snap decisions without consulting other people
  • taking other people's efforts for granted and not giving enough praise or affirmation to their coworkers or loved ones
  • being impatient with inefficient people or systems and getting involved in "win-lose" conversations
  • difficulty understanding a theory or idea which is different from their own perspective

Developmental Needs: ISTJs have a tendency to take other people's efforts for granted, like they take their own efforts for granted, and need to remember to pat people on the back once in a while. ISTJs are likely to be uncomfortable expressing affection and emotion to others as they are not naturally in tune with their own feelings and the feelings of others and they need overcome their natural reservations and offer support and care to individuals in their personal and professional realm. Pay more attention to organizing the you deal with your outer world and avoid becoming too preoccupied with your inner life.


Careers ISTJs Might Consider

BulletCity Works Technician

BulletOffice Manager



BulletEfficiency Expert/Analyst

BulletBank Examiner

BulletManagement Consultant

BulletTax Examiner

BulletGovernment Employee

BulletStock Broker

BulletPolice Officer/Detective

BulletSchool Principal

BulletCorrections Officer

BulletLaw Researcher

BulletMath Teacher

BulletLegal Secretary

BulletFederal Executive

BulletTechnical Writer

BulletComputer Programmer

BulletGeneral Surgeon

BulletNursing Administrator


BulletMilitary Officer

BulletLab technician

BulletCity Manager


BulletPublic Service Manager


BulletSocial Services Administrator

BulletPhysical Education Teacher

BulletPark Ranger




BulletIRS Agent


BulletCredit Analyst


BulletEstate Planner

BulletInsurance Underwriter


BulletHealth Care Administrator



BulletElectrician/Electrical Engineer



  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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