Combining the hourly pay data from BizJournal‘s survey of employers,‘s polling of employees,[1] and US News’ career guide, I have culled ten standout careers from the many recommended for INTJs and INTPs.

  • Best Bets Overall – Consultant/Lawyer: Two careers stand out as not only highly recommended for INTJ/Ps but also rather lucrative. Although a few other careers are recommended ahead of them for INTJs and INTPs, Lawyers ($58 or $68/hour) are still near the top for both and make substantially more than other career options.[2] Management Consultant ($35/hour or $61/hour) is not only one of the best paid careers but also even more highly recommended for both INTJs and INTPs than Lawyer. Do the long hours for consultants taper off with experience as PayScale’s graphs imply, or are Managers and Partners also caught up in the 65 to 75 hour work weeks? If it’s the latter, consulting might be downgraded, but US News picks it as one of the Best Careers for 2009 while calling Lawyer an overrated career so I kept them both on equal footing.[7]
  • Highest-Paying Career / Career in Health – Doctor: If the absolute most important thing to you is salary or you know you want to be in a health-related field, then being a Doctor ($67 or $70+/hour) might be the way to go. They are less recommended for INTJ/Ps than Consultants, Lawyers, and Engineers but are still on many lists. Despite making more than these other options, Doctors must invest in far more school and training, so the eventual higher income might not make up for the income lost by not working. Although US News counts Physician as an Overrated Career, it also recommends Veterinarians and Optometrists as Best Careers for 2009.
  • Best Careers without an Advanced Degree or Killer Hours – Engineers / System Analysts: Although an advanced degree will help, Engineers* ($22/hour or $38/hour) [2] and System Analysts ($22/hour or $37/hour) can get started making decent money right out of college and are both recommended in US News’ Best Careers 2009. The same can be said of Consultants (above), but they must also work incredibly long hours. In addition, those who stick with it might become Engineering Managers or Computer System Managers, the sixth-highest and eighth-highest paid careers in the United States, respectively, according to BizJournal. Economists/Auditors ($21/hour or $28$37/hour) and Scientists were also options here but are not as highly recommended for INTJ/Ps or included in Best Careers 2009.
  • Career with Minimum Hours / Career in Education – Professor: If you want to maximize your free time but still make a solid living, then you should consider being a Professor ($33/hour or $46/hour), which has the lowest number of required hours of any career recommended for INTJ/Ps. US News notes Professor as an Overrated Career, and the average 7 years in a PhD program without making any substantial income reduces actual lifetime earnings relative to other careers, but there is no denying that the eventual schedule is the most flexible. [2, 3] Teacher ($22/hour) is also recommended for INTPs and is on US News’ list of “Overrated Careers.”[4]
  • Non-Profit/Public Sector Career: The career “Manager” is rather vague, but it is a top recommendation for INTJs and could be the ticket for those interested in public service. While US News notably warns against Non-profit Manager, it recommends Government Manager. Although it likely requires the investment of an advanced degree, it returns salary ($28/hour) and hours on par with Engineers and System Analysts, recommended above.
  • Building/Design Career: The best Architects and Urban Planners could have done in my previous posts on INTJs and INTPs was the bottom tier of recommendations, because Team Technology did not really include them in their survey. Recommended for INTJ/Ps on most other sites, these careers and others like them could be excellent fits for this personality type. Kind of a compromise between Architects and Urban Planners, Landscape Architects make about the same amount ($24/hour), but can get started without an advanced degree. In addition, they have a higher level of job satisfaction and a better market outlook than Urban Planners, while regular Architects are panned as an overrated career. Unfortunately, the downswing in the economy has been particularly detrimental to these professions.
  • Creative Careers: Although selecting a creative career is likely based more on the inclinations of talent than anything else, Writer stands out because it does make a little more ($23/hour or $27/hour)[5] than other options like Graphic Designers ($16/hour or $23/hour) or traditional artists (fine artists, musicians, actors, etc.). In addition, one strain of Writer, the Ghostwriter, is recommended as a Best Career 2009 by US News.
  • Random Extra Career: For INTPs who want to directly help people through interacting with them, Occupational Therapist ($32/hour) could be an excellent choice. It is recommended for INTPs and is included in US News’ Best Careers 2009, but keep in mind that is not as highly recommended for INTPs as the other options above, and US News’ Report Card shows they probably barely made it onto their list.

CareerCast’s Jobs Rated ranking of 200 jobs takes even more factors into account, including stress, physical demands, and the environment. Not surprisingly, these additional elements make options for “Best Careers without Killer Hours” (System Analysts at #6) and “Career with Minimum Hours” (various research-oriented/professor-like careers) comprise more than half of the top 20.[6] All the other careers listed above comprise the middle 40% of the ranking, with Technical Writer (#60) and Occupational Therapist (#61) at the top of that group and Teacher (#127) toward the bottom. The only career for INTJ/Ps outside the top 70% is an Actor, coming in at #170.


  1. PayScale’s salaries, which are the median of those reported, will generally be lower than BizJournal’s, which are skewed higher due to highly compensated employees at the top of the spectrum in their respective careers.
  2. Lawyers, Professors, and Engineers who work for hospitals make about 20% more than their peers in other sectors.
  3. PhD’s in Business Administration might be a different story, with starting salaries averaging $86,000 (in 2001), substantial growth potential and non-academic opportunities, and a shortage of business professors.
  4. If you want to be in education, a good alternative might be Curriculum Designer.
  5. Some writers can actually a little more. Technical writers average $27/hour, and grant writers, after paying their dues for 10 years, end up averaging $29/hour.
  6. Biologist (“Scientist” above) #4, Software Engineer (“Engineer” above) #5, Systems Analyst #6, Economist #11, Physicist #13, Computer Programmer #18, and Astronomer (“Scientist” above) #20 are all in the top 10% along with a variety of research-oriented/professor-like careers–Mathemetician #1, Historian #7, Sociologist #8, Philosopher #9.
  7. Before you run out to apply for business school, Vault’s articles on Consulting are highly worthwhile: Reality Check – Changing Careers to Consulting, What It Takes to Be a Consultant, and Consulting Caveats.