We are constantly told how important social skills are to career success. But what if you don’t have many people skills — and don’t want to acquire any, either? Here’s a look at five stimulating, well-paying jobs where the quality of your work matters more than your ability to schmooze.
Air traffic controller
As an air traffic controller, you don’t need to talk to anybody except the pilots under your control. Even then, your conversations tend to be strictly business, as there is simply no room for small talk when you are responsible for keeping people safe in the sky. The job isn't easy, and best suited to people who can grasp details quickly and think on their feet. But if there ever was a career that judged you on your ability to handle the unexpected, rather than your ability to handle idle chitchat, this is it.
The salary is aspirational, too. Air traffic controllers earn a mean annual wage of $118,780, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with high earners topping the $170,000 mark.
Tax accountant/Actuarial accountant
Two different careers with one major similarity — the solitary, task-oriented nature of the job makes it ideal for asocial people. As an accountant, you’ll spend most of your workday dealing with data rather than clients. Tax and actuarial (risk-assessment) accountancy in particular are very technical areas where your knowledge and ability to find the right answer through research are valued more than your people skills. These qualities do not demand a lot of interaction with others, and the research focus becomes even more pronounced when you choose sub-specialties within the field, such as oil and gas extraction or insurance.
The median annual wage across the accountancy profession is $73,670, but accountants working in the Securities and Commodities Industry can earn over $95,000. Actuaries fare better, earning a mean annual wage of $110,090.
To an outside observer, a court reporter sits in the thick of high-profile criminal trials surrounded by the usual media circus. But in fact, they are not permitted to interact with anyone. Their job is simply to create word-for-word transcriptions at trials and other legal proceedings. The only time they have to communicate is when a Judge asks them to read back the words they have just transcribed. The rest of the time they are like the proverbial fly on the wall — listening, recording, then buzzing away.
Median salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $55,000. Court reporters lucky enough to work in California and New York State can expect to earn closer to $85,000 per year.
If your misanthropic tendencies are directed towards creatures with two legs, not four, then an animal-related job could be the perfect career choice for you. A zoologist is a specialist type of scientist that studies the behavior, genetics and diseases of animals, as well as the ecosystems they live in. You’ll find them in zoos, wildlife reserves, universities and laboratories across the globe.
Because zoologists spend a lot of time observing animals in their natural habitat, they rarely interact with people. Those who work out in the field can be away from civilization for long periods of time, sometimes months — perfect for those who would rather get the job done than talk about it.
You won’t be broke, either. The mean annual wage for a zoologist is $63,230 unless you’re a resident of the District of Columbia, where the average salary tops $100,000.
A curveball, surely? Not at all. Performance-related professions such as acting, dancing and motivational speaking suit socially anxious personalities extremely well. That’s because standing up in front of a crowd has nothing to do with people skills — it’s a performance.
Acting, presenting and public speaking are all about delivering a well-rehearsed production for the people you’re performing for. There’s no interaction with the masses and no impromptu conversation. And because asocial types tend to listen rather than talk, they are extremely good at spotting the nuances in other people’s mannerisms and dialogue that people-pleasing types might miss, leading to a richer performance.
There’s no data on actors’ salaries, because, well, how long is a piece of string, but motivational speakers pull in around $61,000 per year, according to job site Indeed.com.