Hi, I'm 18 and an INTP.

I've always been very confused and uncertain when it comes to career choices. I've always had a very wide choice of careers as I excel in anything I apply myself to (although I have problems with motivation) and I find that I'm naturally good at most things. As a result I've never had a clear path.

I've considered so many careers with the ones I've most seriously considered being as follows: high school English teacher, university lecturer, tattoo artist, political analyst, military, police officer and park ranger. My current interest os in police work. This is because I find myself becoming quickly bored with things. Police work is varied and active and I am a very physically active person who gets antsy at a desk after a while.

As you can see those careers are extremely varied and disconnected and the only "typical INTP careers" would be political analyst and university lecturer. I understand some careers I've listed are a bad choice for most INTPs but there are aspect of the job I'd benefit from. 

Sorry for the long post (and thanks for reading if you've made it this far.) I'm open to suggestions, what do you think I should pursue? What do you do if you're an INTP and do you enjoy it? If any of you are working/have worked in military or police I'd especially like to hear how you dealt with the strict hierarchy and orders. 


RGant (not verified) says...


I'm an INTP, 29 years old. Your description sounds incredibly similar to my own experience at your age. I was torn between a more academic/mathematical profession with a real passion for the arts pulling me the other way. I excel at most anything I put my mind to, but often would find myself bored after some time and easily intrigued by a new subject altogether. My way of summarizing our personality type is that we are problem-solvers, and it does not matter what the problem is, simply that we would love to solve it. That leads us to seem scattered because it's not necessarily the subject on its own that's interesting, it's the process of discovering the answers that's interesting.

In the end, I chose Architecture for undergrad and Industrial (Product) Design for my masters. A design path seems ideal to me because it is the perfect intersection of engineering & the arts. Design encourages a lot of exploration of the world in general and into other fields because it is seen as problem-solving for humans by way of physical objects or systems. So you must indulge in learning about your "users" and fully understanding their worlds and their needs in order to solve their problems by way of design. It's the engineering of a solution or an idea first, and then your engineer the physical design or product. That being said, as your career develops, you can be agile in what you'd like your focus to be. Designers are on staff at nearly any company whether it's tech, medical, architectural, politics, activewear, or even design for children. It allows us to have a stable career path while still being able to commit to one particular subject forever. ;)

I would research Industrial Design as well as research the new movement called "Design Thinking" which incorporates design into business, emphasizing problem solving by way of design. I'm sure there are other fields that encourage flexibility/agility in topics, but this has been my experience so far and I do not have regrets!

I hope this is at all inspiring or helpful!

Best of luck, 


Ceasar (not verified) says...

Thanks Rachel, im going to consider what you've said! im 28, havent been to college but Im thinking of going for industrial design or architecture. I been working at the Post Office and its driving me insane, need to find someting Im passionate about. I was pretty passionate about music but I have a family and need to become a part of society lol while still working within a passion.

Pranav Ghandade (not verified) says...

It is really weird for me to see that you INTPs are interested  in the topics i  am least or at least not interested in. But well every one is different. So, that being said, i  as an INTP am very much interested  in biology, history, philosophy, etc. As career i am going to be a Scientist and Researcher in genetics and cell biology and Neuropsychology and other fields that study  human body. Just as you stated i excel in everything  i put myself into. This is a common quality of every INTP.Due to that i too have sometimes feelings like i should put myself  into other fields of my interest such as, well the modern ones  IIT,software programming, software security,etc and things like these. 

So as i am just 15 now i have yet to decide which field  to take, though as stated  earlier i have pretty  confidentiality selected  genetics and the other. Though as i am going  through  my puberty  phase which is very irritating one, i have other things to worry about than my career  as of yet it will probably start after 2 years from now.

In the end i would just say, as RGant said we INTPs are the problem solvers which is true in fact you as a true INTP should be able to solve this problem of yours on your own well if your an TRUE INTP that is. ;)

Anyway good luck solving  your problem. 

whitehousea says...

Hey OP,

I'm 24 and an INTP.  I would take an objective look at what you feel are your strengths, see if you can get a bit of exposure in some of those subjects over the summer or whenever you find time. 
Unfortunately INTP's are really good at narrowing down our options to maybe a set of 4 or 5 but it's a little harder to pick one since we usually want to distinguish it in some way. Maybe try getting in touch with a local representative or the police department and see if you can spend some time shadowing them, you might find that the concept of the job you have in your head is different to the role in action.

I chose to become a lawyer since the law interacts with pretty much any subject you can think of. If you have an interest in politics, a working knowledge of the law will allow you to see political actions in a different light so might be something to think about! I work in litigation so I get to work on a variety of subjects, depending on the nature of the case and love it.

Try and identify what is driving your passion for the subjects and remember that your career doesn't necessarily define everything you will be forever. For instance, It's perfectly okay to grow a side venture in tattoo design whilst you study for a degree. Try to keep the doors open and take advantage of any opportunities that come your way, don't be afraid to pivot whilst you work it all out. 

One note on the military, at 18 I too had an interest in military service: (I joined the Royal Marine Reserves whilst in college) I'm going to assume you're American so I cant speak for your situation per se, but again I would see if there are opportunities to dip your toes before you commit to anything longer term. Even as a part timer I did find that the restrictions on my ability to be creative were severely restricted. As Rachel mentioned, we love to solve problems but we usually don't give much regard to how we get there. In the Military, you'll be following protocol and will be dealing with far fewer theoretical problems, if you're used to inventing clever ways to do things you might get frustrated when you're not allowed to. 

Anyway I hope this helps!


anmlnctr (not verified) says...

Hey Pranav! I'm 27 and in school for my third declared major, bioinformatics - it's the application of big data analytical approaches and software engineering to biological problems, especially genetic problems and the various new -omics. It sounds like you might be interested in that kind of synthesis between areas like programming and genetics, so I just wanted to give it a shout out :) I hadn't even heard of bioinformatics as a field of inquiry until I was in my mid-20's. I'm someone who deeply enjoys learning something astounding about biological complexity on the regular, so it's perfect for an overactive mind.

But! I also spent several years studying philosophy, English, Horticulture, and Entomology before I dropped out of school to work on small farms. It was an auto-didactic subplot that made me so much more well-rounded and better adjusted, so to speak, and also engaged me physically while offering a deliciously unstructured world where quick innovation and intuitive skills were appreciated. I personally operate poorly within highly structured environments, which is something that has made college much more stressful than it needs to be. But you may get something out of the variety inherent to police work regardless - it will likely depend on the people with whom you work.

So OP, my advice is don't worry too much about definitively picking where you want to go, because at least in my experience, despite intentions, I was constantly re-routing myself to learn something new. I tended to gravitate towards intriguing mentors and tangentially related fields more than sticking to some sort of life-plan. :) And naturally, sometimes I ended up in jobs or relationships that didn't jive, but even those were learning experiences worth  appreciating (...in hindsight ;) ).


Understanding your type is so helpful for realizing your strengths and managing your blind spots, and I wish I'd known about INTP traits (especially as a women who often felt out of place) prior to university. Best of luck!

Lao Tse (not verified) says...

28 and had same struggles as you do now, my field of expertise is psychology and electro-mechanics.

I did have those big dreams and doubts. So many options!

Since you are INTP my tip is we can foresee ourselves in future events, choices, careers,... so make a 10 years from now plan and keep several options open.

I tried many fields of careers and did by trial and error. Do not be to proud to quit a job after a day. If you find an easy job take that time to search for education and practical experience. 

When time goes by slow that means you are bored in life in present moment, that means change will come soon a depressed feeling might occur. Acknowledge this feeling and state to your friends and family you need a few days alone time, insight will come and you'll feel energised again. Without that alone time you'll feel drained a lot.

Know yourself and trust your heart, a low chestbounce are others exitement you feel. 

A high heartbounce means GO FOR IT!!!! In all fields! ROMANCE and FINANCE even if your mind says otherwise. 

Have fun ;)

Mr Dan (not verified) says...

I'm an INTP that has been a software programmer and designer for 30 years.  Programming seems to be natural for an INTP.  Looking back I think an INTP an be happiest and most successfull in any carreer that involves problem solving and creativity.  Surprisingly, I've found that I get along with people in working relationships better than many of my collegues.  I enjoy their company as long as I'm solving their problems or talking about something interesting.  I work well in teams as a member or leader.  There are very few that I socialize with outside work even though most seem to like me greatly.  I'm just not into sitting and watching ball games or playing lawn darts at the barbeque.  Try not to let yourself get too solitary or you can decsend into solving the worlds problems in your mind and get nothing done.

I'm not sure that I'd like to deal with police work, too many irrational people with unsolvable problems because of their own issues.  Maybe the problem solving detective would be good, but I think you have to deal with a lot of drunks, teenagers,  and angry mother-in-laws before you get there.

On a side note, in terms of programming. I've seen discussions about the drudgery part of programming and how hard that must be for an INTP.  The deal is that for an INTP the drudgery part is mastered easily.  After that, the coding is just writing.  Its like saying writing fiction is hard because you have to capitalize, punctuate, and spell correctly.  Thats not really true.  It becomes irrelevant and your thoughts flow onto the paper.  

The same is probably true of things like chemestry and biology.  I found them incredible drudgery.  So much to memorize and repeat.  So many notations and visulazations to know for tests.  Octogans with lines and letters, how many legs does a spider have and what bugs have alimentry canals.  The job of a chemist and biologist it really different.  If you are creating a new drug, you aren't even thinking about that stuff anymore, its automatic.

MattaD0R (not verified) says...

26 here and still struggling! I've finally gone back to school studying law, but now I can't focus on that because I play my guitar too much

IzzyA (not verified) says...

I'm an 18 year old INTP as well I feel you! I've had a really hard time balancing my strong interest in science with a need to be creative. I'm trying to major in something that lets me work on projects from multiple different topics because I get bored easily. I'm majoring in Professional Writing and Editing with a minor in Chinese and so far, so good. Foreign Languages are really my passion and I'd much rather major in them, but I worry about finding stable jobs. Good luck! 

GenePants (not verified) says...

Hi Guest, 

I'm a 31-year-old INTP lawyer who has long struggled to figure out what to do with my life. A piece of advice: It's very important to pay attention to the day-to-day work involved in a job. When we're in school and we're trying to figure out what to do with our lives, we spend so much time thinking about subjects we like and what we're good at, and for you, like most INTPs, that's not very helpful because you've got a huge range of interests and you're good at almost anything you try. So what I'd do is go through the careers you've listed, find a handful of people who work that job, and ask them about what their job is really like, what they spend their days doing (get as granular as possible), what they like about their job and what they don't like. You'll get a ton of valuable information (data woo!) from the process that you will not find (or at least will have to work a lot harder to find) in career advice books, or from your teachers, professors, counselors, etc. 

Take my job, for example. I became a lawyer because I loved philosophy, argumentation, and writing, and I wanted a job with lot's of variety. Based on what I knew about the law from a lifetime of media consumption (TV, movies, fiction and nonfiction books), and from having taken several law classes as an undergrad, becoming a lawyer just seemed to fit, and lo, I happened to have the necessary aptitudes. Fast forward to now, and all the advantages I imagined lawyers to enjoy about their jobs have really panned out. I'm in litigation, so I have a constantly varying set of cases, most of which are genuinely interesting and novel. I get to write a lot and argue a lot. I get to work with people who "get it" and I also have plenty of alone time to work on my projects. BUT, there are also real negatives that nobody from a law school or law firm will tell you about unless you corner them and ask them directly about it. The hours are long and unpredictable. Some of the work is extremely monotonous, yet still very stressful. Stress in general is ever-present. Deadlines are always tight and the standards are always high. There is conflict everywhere. I could go on, but you get it. 

And every career is like this. My wife loves cooking so she went to culinary school only to find that while she never stopped loving cooking, she didn't want to spend her life working nights and weekends in a hot kitchen run by (odds are) a man with control issues. The day to day got to her even though she loves the field generally. My sister went into advertising because she loves phsychology and pop culture. She never stopped being interested in the work (and the perks were awesome), but eventually got sick of working long hours for too little money. Etc., etc., etc.

The bottom line is that you need to talk to actual practitioners so that you can learn the worst parts of any given career *before* you go into it. This alone will disqualify some of the jobs on your list. Or, you may find that the cons don't even phase you, in which case, good!, you're getting closer. Once you narrow your list down more, you can start searching for summer jobs, internships/externships, etc., and then get even more data from which to make an even more informed decision. Continue to repeat the process of interviewing and gaining experience until you've found your place. It could take years, even decades. Such is the plight of the INTP. But you're starting early, so good for you. Basically, as much as it cuts against your INTP instincts, prioritize the gathering of practical knowledge and experience, the nitty-gritty details, and don't rely on theorizing for this particular life decision. 

sAlexm (not verified) says...


I am a 27 year old  INTP/J (took too different text and apparently could be a INTJ as well). I agree with GenePants, consequently because I have chosen all very bad careers for us INTP types including restaurant managment and recruiting (sales based career). The reason I chose them was because they happend to fall into them and I have stuck with them because I am naturally succesful at them. Dispite being very bored, uninspired and regretful of all the time invested into these choices, a huge factor in continuing them was because of living exspenses and such. Similar with GenePants I actually fell in love with philosophy and psychology and earned two BA's in college with them because I pursued them out of intellectual stimulation and interest but did not adequatly prepare that knowledge for post academic situations. But, being the 21st Century there is always opportunity to transition into something else especially as anmlnctr mentioned from switching quite a bit of majors in finding a fit. I learned automotive mechanics in my spare time in college and I am learning programming and data science in my spare time now to get out of my poorly planned career set. Leaving me with options if I really just cannot take then monotony anymore. I consider myself an autodidactic as well and it seems most of us are from what post suggest in this forum so use that natural ability to your advantage to becoming skilled in what is necessary to be "employable" while maintaining that intellectual drive to transistion into new interest. Luckily, you have quite a bit of time and choice still ahead to navigate more diligently then some of us. I hope all the advice provided has given you some hope in how to approach your situation and I wish you the best of luck in finding a satisfying/ rewarding path!



EpicPollon (not verified) says...

Hi sAlexm!

I couldn't agree more! (aside from the INTP/J thing - I posted on another forum about my struggle thinking I was both) but from what you said about being good at anything! It is a curse that I love and hate. I think that INTP's (especially ones that are young, or unable to provide for themselves educationally) tend to fall into whatever they can, then do really well at it (sometimes at their own sanity: Sales!) then just get stuck. From my experience - I never expected to be in supply chain. I started entry level at a pharmaceutical company and after 10 years of just solving whatever problem came up and taking whatever education someone could give me, I ended up in Supply Chain.

I always wonder about being a neurologist, or a philosophist; but I do not dwell on the PAST! INTP's are about the future and the past does not need to be considered unless it can be used as historical data. I honestly think it is good for some INTP's to get 'stuck' in the unexpected jobs - as I see so many positive things come out of systems that are stuck in the past (in my experience it is Trucking and Inventory management) and without some of us solving these problems, they are not solved. Plus Engineering is amazing. This is what I would suggest Guest - if you are uncertain, at least take some courses in it. It is the path of the philosopher to be great at many things and see how they work together to find the solution that others are missing because it lies within another specialty.

I have no doubt that you will continue to learn in everything that you do! The future can definately be changed from the bottom up!

olive (not verified) says...


I'm an INTP and 21. I was in your position as well when i was in high school. I lost motivation shortly after starting college and thought beauty school would be a good fit though not totally sure of it. I am a hairdresser now and I feel very conflicted in my career path. It was a sense of relief to see my chosen profession under careers not recommended for an INTP because i cannot stand the day to day work. Just like GenePants said, i realized that what you actually do in your day to day is different than how you would percieve it to be. What drew me towards this industry was the creative aspect, though having my first salon job i found out it relies totally on sales which is very unnatural to me.

I'm still unsure what i want to pursue next but I have always loved mathematics. Even from a young age, computers and html coding were interesting to me. My last job was in print & marketing services and i can't say that i would hate a career similar to that. We're INTPs so if you trust your intuition while you're in pursuit of a career, you'll find the right path.

Best of luck

EpicPollon (not verified) says...


As an INTP I can totally see how you have managed to fall flat on your face! I feel for you. My recommendation, get outta dodge, no good will come from a position that is repetitive and you are forced to make sales. Because your skills (work experience wise) fall into the wrong category, it is hard to get out of. What I would suggest, is you find a small business (like a humble gorcery store or a gas station) and get in there and start managing their inventory systems, their order systems, their PO systems, every puzzle and solution you can. You have some of the customer service, so can work with that as well. Once you create a self maintained system of excellence, you will be able to move onto more fulfilling, fruitfull careers, or at least get back to school.

If it the money you are scared to do without (I am also totally there) I would suggest getting out of the hair salon sales and possibly into the compensation sales area's. There is potential to make more money - scaled to what your sales are. You are an INTP - you will do great! and it is a means to an end. Sometimes getting right into the fire (in our case HEAVY SALES!) is the best short term solution - get in, rock it, cash out - go find what you love.

Brenton (not verified) says...

Same story. Good at everything I try (except when people are watching me) and learn very quickly, yet also get bored very quickly. Had absolutely no idea of what to major in at college, and honestly was uninterested in college, but felt like I had to go and didn't know what else to do. In hindsight, I realize I just wanted to be independent and do my own thing, without any plans or limitations from my parents or situation.

I ended up majoring in engineering because both my parents are engineers and I felt like it would shut them up, but then I switched to psychology half way through. I was also depressed at that point because I had become so uninterested with engineering and was exhausted from trying to be social in college, but I was too afraid to tell my parents I wanted to switch my major. But the depression got bad enough that I finally said something, and that was a turning point--learned to be more aware of and open with my emotions because I'd become very lonely and depressed otherwise.

Graduated with a Psych degree, then struggled to find sales jobs for 3 months (sales jobs because I was still trying to convince myself I'm a closest extrovert... totally not true by the way). Did some non-profit teamwork kind of jobs for two years, and finally stumbled upon computer programming. FreeCodeCamp.com, Codecademy.com, TeamTreeHouse.com. <--- very good free resources for learning.

I absolutely love coding like nothing else (other than playing computer games, but those make me an unproductive recluse). I recommend you try out one of those coding websites I listed above because INTPs are very often known for loving computer programming.

Best of luck!

Jon87 (not verified) says...

I'm an infographics/data visualization editor at a leading daily newspaper. I would highly recommend this career to other intps. It allows me to develop a deep expertise in one discipline (information design/data visualization) at the intersection of science and art--a place where INTPs usually thrive. But I get to develop this expertise while exploring a variety of topics.

Gooshtoast (not verified) says...

I went to University for forestry, then water resources, then Paper Science Engineering. Paper Science was cool. I co-oped at a mill. I then transferred to a more highly ranked University for Chemical Engineering. This may have been a mistake. Chemical Engineering was a bit too hard so I moved into Environmental Science. Like a lot of people are already saying, I become interested in new topics very quickly and can keep up with the pack pretty well if I'm interested, even if I don't have a lot of experience. I just need to watch for that boredom lurking that threatens to pull me into a new field!

Putting all my courses together I am having some luck in the GIS field (which seems like a promising field). I also may return to my first U and get the Paper Engineering degree.

A lot of my work in paper engineering was data science in Excel. It really was cool and engaging.

My advice: choose a "world" - environmental science is kind've a world, engineering is a world, data science is a world, computer science is a world.

Then focus: choose a subcategory, specialize and then I think you will succeed. You can make it.

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