Do you hate group projects? Does the thought of networking face-to-face give you stress acne? Do you screen calls, even when it’s your boyfriend? Would you rather stick your finger in a light socket than engage in small talk? If you answered yes to most of these questions, congrats! You’re an introvert.
Whether you’re a closeted introvert or a stereotypical wallflower, you know that engaging with people for an extended period of time can be absolutely draining. It’s okay, this tendency is built into your DNA. But when your career requires direct interaction with other human beings, you might be reaching for that light socket when 5 PM rolls around. Instead of trying to change your personality and suffering Monday through Friday, why not look for a job that fits the special introvert that you are?
There are few things more solitudinous than writing, especially in today’s digital age, where writers can avoid human contact if need be. "Introverts feel most alive and energized when they're in environments that are less stimulating -- not less intellectually stimulating, but less stuff going on," Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking, told the Huffington Post. Writing lets introverts use that inward reflection to be creative.
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Veterinarian or Animal Shelter Assistant
Other than dealing with overbearing owners, working with animals all day could be perfect for introverts. The pay scale for working with non-humans can range from $8.18 per hour as a PetCo grooming assistant to $84,460/year as an accredited veterinarian. If dealing with pet owners makes you nervous, just remember: they don’t care about chit-chat. “When most people bring their pets to the veterinarian, they don’t want cocktail party conversation. They want you to understand their pets’ problems and answer their questions,” Cain tells dmv360, a veterinary business magazine, “So don’t think of it as a performance or party role, but more of a role of counselor.”
The courtroom would seem like that last place an easily stimulated person should work; especially if things get crazy like Judge Judy status. But introverts tend to be good listeners. According to CareerCast.com, a court reporter is to assume a non-participatory role and record everything that happens during a proceeding. They also report a median annual salary of $48,160.
Introverts tend to be highly focused, which is just the character trait to have when working with numbers Monday through Friday. In a financial analyst’s position, you’d be organizing and interpreting financial statements, trends, reports, etc. Although you’d have to deal with brief interactions with clients and/or investors, you’d reap the benefit of $75,950 per year and some peace and quiet when doing the bulk of your work.
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If your energy is drained by the presence of others, consider a career as a computer programmer. You’ll spend a good chunk of time behind a screen writing code to get a website to function correctly. You’ll need an degree in computer science (at least), but the payoff is decent. The medium annual salary for a computer programmer is $74,289 according to the BLS. And fair warning: if you’re working for a sizeable company you will be forced to interact with your group of like-minded computer programmers or perhaps even the marketing team (yikes).
There is a way to help people without actually having to say a single word to them. Lab technicians run tests on blood, tissue, and urine samples in a health care setting to detect disease or ailment. If you can stomach the sight of blood, then a lab technician might be the choice for you.
Wait, what?! Doesn’t a CEO require managing, talking and leading people? As a full-fledged introvert, I get nauseous at the idea. And other people once viewed introversion as a poor leadership character trait as well. In a 2006 survey, 65% of senior corporate executives viewed introversion as a barrier to leadership. But recent research shows that introverted leaders can be very effective. Introverted CEOs tend to think first, dig deeply into issues, and embrace writing. Plus, they ooze calmness. Hilary Clinton, Marissa Mayer, Bill Gates, Guy Kawasaki and even Barack Obama are all self-proclaimed introverts.