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Career Planning: Personality & Careers: ISTP


Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving - ISTPs represent approximately 6% of the population. ISTPs are good at logical analysis and like to use it on practical concerns. They typically have strong powers of reasoning, although they're not interested in theories or concepts unless they can see a practical application. They like to take things apart and see how they work. ISTPs have an adventuresome spirit and they are attracted to motorcycles, airplanes, sky diving, surfing, etc. They thrive on action and are usually fearless. ISTPs are fiercely independent, needing to have the space to make their own decisions about their next step. They do not believe in or follow rules and regulations, as this would prohibit their ability to "do their own thing." Their sense of adventure and desire for constant action makes ISTPs prone to becoming bored rather quickly (1,2,8).


ISTPs are action-oriented people. They like to be up and about, doing things. They are not people to sit behind a desk all day and do long-range planning. Adaptable and spontaneous, they respond to what is immediately before them. They usually have strong technical skills, and can be effective technical leaders. They focus on details and practical things. They have an excellent sense of expediency and grasp of the details which enables them to make quick, effective decisions (1,2,8).


An ISTPs Career Choice Should Probably Include...

  1. A profession requiring a tough-minded, analytical, and realistic approach to its work.
  2. Work that is clearly defined and specific in nature, where they master and then use their well-developed skills.
  3. The opportunity to work at their own pace, independently, without a lot of restrictions on their activities or demands on their time.
  4. An environment that is relaxed and informal, where they work along side other skilled people they respect and who respect them.
  5. Work involving a craftsman-like approach in which they can utilize their skills in working with tools or instruments.
  6. The opportunity to engage in short-term problem solving, trouble shooting activities, and crisis management.
  7. Work that is practical and uses their ability to make sense of things logically.
  8. Work that applies their technical knowledge of how things work.

An ISTPs Strengths are...

ISTPs are generally quiet and independent people who like, and need, to spend time alone because this is when they can sort things out in their minds most clearly. They like to be busy and involved with projects that are of importance and interest to them and they value skills and quality performance in themselves and others. Rather reserved and private, ISTPs do not usually share their reactions or responses unless urged to do so. They tend to be straightforward, honest, and more interested in action than conversation, unless it is a subject about which they know a lot. Unpretentious and down to earth, ISTPs operate more on curiosity and impulses than organization or plans (1,2,7,8).


ISTPs usually have a good sense of how mechanical things work and are logical in their analysis. They are realistic in their assessments and trust hard facts they have gained through personal experience. They are good observers and enjoy working with real things. ISTPs tend to be spontaneous and easy going, always ready and eager to get involved with fun or physical activities, especially those out-of-doors or containing a level of risk, thrill, or excitement (1,2,7,8).


ISTPs are good at...

  • following through with a project and tying up loose ends
  • making careful, thorough observations and focusing on details and practical things
  • projects requiring detailed logical analysis and technical skill
  • working alone with great ability to concentrate on projects they enjoy
  • mastering skills, especially those requiring the use of hands or tools, and using those skills with precision
  • being exceptional troubleshooters in emergency situations and they handle crisis situations with ease
  • working with real things and tangible products

An ISTPs Weaknesses are...

ISTPs rarely share their feelings or express themselves emotionally to others and they tend to be so intensively private individuals. They don't consider their emotional lives to be particularly important and their aloofness may be seen as intentional coldness, especially when they don't bother to explain their behavior. This can be frustrating and hurtful to the people close to them, and may place the ISTP at risk for not developing the emotional side of their lives (1,2,7,8).


ISTPs' need for excitement and fun can lead them to take unnecessary risks and shirk other responsibilities. They may have trouble following through with commitments and find themselves bored. They are especially prone to skipping over the planning or organizing portion of projects, preferring to just get busy with the parts with which they are already proficient. They tend to be skeptical of unusual approaches and can get caught unprepared when they don't anticipate future events (1,2,7,8).


Things to watch out for...

ISTPs value privacy and sometimes keep important issues to themselves. Their concern for the present moment and their inability to recognize the importance of setting goals, often leads them into conflict with authority. Being action-oriented, ISTPs react against restrictions — which typically causes the controls placed on them to increase. In these situations, boredom can quickly set in and the ISTP may experience feelings of internal emptiness. Overly regulated situations cause ISTPs stress. In such situations, ISTPs either attempt to flee or turn to fight their adversary face-to-face (1,2,7,8).


The ISTP's form of retaliation can be characterized as defiling what other people value. The ISTP violates rules and regulations that protect individual rights in retaliation for the lost opportunities and freedom that the ISTP believes they have had to endure. Getting even stimulates them and a renewed sense of excitement emerges from the risks of revenge and the expression of outrage. If stress continues, ISTPs will put what remaining freedom they have left in jeopardy by rebelling further (1,2,7,8). Other concerns to watch for:

  • exhibiting rash, emotional outbursts of anger when stressed
  • leaving projects unfinished in order to start something more fun
  • not following through on commitments and responsibilities
  • unknowingly or uncaringly hurting people's feelings
  • ignoring or overlooking plans for the future
  • being impatient with theoretical discussions or vague instructions
  • having difficulty distinguishing between emotional reactions and value judgments
  • avoiding working as part of a group, preferring to work alone

Developmental Needs: ISTPs often get"stuck in a rut" and only do those things that are known and comfortable to them and the ability to take things in stride and branch out into new opportunities needs to be developed. It is okay to be different, but there are rules in society and it would be to your benefit to follow them. Allow others to influence you a little more instead of surrounding yourself with people who support your own way of life, and rejecting people who think or live differently. Don't allow yourself to become paranoid - people are not trying to control you!


Careers ISTPs Might Consider

BulletCommercial Artist

BulletAutomotive Products Retailer

BulletIntelligence Agent

BulletPrivate Detective

BulletSoftware Developer

BulletFire Fighter

BulletMedical Technician

BulletCorrections Officer

BulletMedia Specialist

BulletElectrical Engineer

BulletPurchasing Agent

BulletLegal Secretary



BulletComputer Repair Person

BulletConstruction Worker


BulletCity Works Technician

BulletPhysical Therapist

BulletPublic Manager

BulletCraft Worker

BulletComputer Systems Analyst

BulletRace Car Driver


BulletMarine Biologist




BulletComputer Programmer


BulletSecurities Analyst


BulletProfessional Hunter

BulletCorporate Executive

BulletRadiological Technician


BulletForest Ranger

BulletPolice Officer


BulletDental Hygienist

BulletRespiratory Therapist


BulletMechanical Engineer

BulletWeapons Operator




  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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