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The basics
Study abroad : Career Prospects

Find a degree and career to suit your personality

You may not have given much thought to how your personality profile may be ideally suited to certain study and career paths. We explore different personality profiles, their characteristics and how this can inform your study decisions.

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There are many factors involved in choosing what you want to study and the possible careers this may lead to. Perhaps it’s an area you are very interested in, maybe you have always been motivated to assist others, or perhaps it's job security and a good salary that you’re after. Whatever the motivation or rationale, there is an aspect of this deliberation that sometimes does not get the attention that it deserves, your personality. We explore how your personality may be ideally suited to particular fields or can influence the choices that you make.


What are personality types?


While you are most certainly unique, there are some identifiable traits that you possess that may mean you fit a particular personality profile. Personality types have been developed primarily through the results of significant psychological testing and measuring, for example, the Myers-Briggs personality test.


Participants are asked a set of standardised questions in the form of an objective test. The aim of such tests is to elicit responses from you that are not influenced by an independent assessor, like a psychologist.


If you have ever taken one of these tests you would have seen a lot of rating scale questions seeking to understand what you enjoy doing, how you react in certain situations and your interaction with others. The results of these answers are then collated, using a four-scale rubric, to form an overall personality picture.


The four-scale rubric used for the Myers-Briggs test is:


  • Extraversion (E) and Introversion (I) – measuring how much you enjoy interacting with others, taking action or if you enjoy more time alone with your thoughts.
  • Thinking (T) and Feeling (F) – measuring your intuitive decision-making practices. Whether you tend to rely on your gut or emotions or prefer data and hard facts.
  • Sensing (S) and Intuition (N) – measures how you collect information, whether you’re detailed oriented or look for patterns.
  • Judging (J) and Perceiving (P) – measures how you interact with the world, influencing your decision making and thinking patterns.


Each one of the traits is assigned a letter which is then combined to form a personality type, of which 16 have been identified. They are generally divided into four categories, namely Sensing and Perceiving; Intuitive and Feeling; Sensing and Judging; and Intuitive and Thinking.


How do they apply to study and careers?


Personality types can provide a useful insight into what you may enjoy doing, what you could be suited to and perhaps even reveal new options that you hadn’t considered. Often you might think that a particular academic pursuit or career would be a great idea but a mismatch with your personality could mean you won’t feel fulfilled, challenged or engaged. You need to play to your strengths and abilities.


What are the different personality types?


There are a number of distinct personality types that have been identified with key characteristics, these are:


  1. The architect (INTJ) – you have an analytical approach using logic and reason.
  2. The intellectual (INTP) – you are solutions driven with an analytical mind.
  3. The entertainer (ESFP) – you enjoy being at the centre of events, are energetic, creative and resourceful.
  4. The debater (ENTP) – you are an innovative thinker bubbling with ideas.
  5. The director (ENTJ) – you don’t mind leading and are confident with attention to decision making.
  6. The persuader (ESTP) – you enjoy working and talking to people, detail-oriented, often improvise and are objective. Flexibility is your strength.
  7. The advocate (ENFP) – You are independent-minded, innovative and enthusiastic with an altruistic edge.
  8. The innovator (ISTP) – you’re a rational and logical thinker who seeks out new experiences and want to know how things work.
  9. The protector (ISFJ) – you are a structured thinker, are organised and a close observer of detail.
  10. The contributor (ESFJ) – you’re outgoing, altruistic, empathetic and community-oriented.
  11. The auditor (ISTJ) – you’re extremely organised, a planner, logical and pay attention to small details.
  12. The manager (ESTJ) – you have high standards, place value on rules and laws and take initiative.
  13. The deviser (INTP) – you enjoy working with and devising theories, you are logical and objective. You might also be a bit reserved.  
  14. The mediator (INFP) – you’re intuitive, philanthropic, meticulous, value-oriented and quite enjoy time on your own.
  15. The educator (ENFJ) – you are outgoing and are great at working with people, motivating them and good at negotiation.
  16. The artist (ISFP) – you are action-oriented, hands-on, live in the moment and learning from experiences.


What sort of subjects and careers suit different personalities?


Now that you are more familiar with the different personality profiles you can discern which may best reflect who you are. Remember that they are not rigid categories and it’s possible to have characteristics that cover a number of different types. However, there are certain careers and areas of specialisation that complement one another.



Don’t feel discouraged if you can’t identify a clear path or direction, the personality types and tests serve as a guide rather than a rule. You can also get great advice from career and study abroad counsellors, such as IDP,  who can help you develop a clear picture of where you would like to go.


With the knowledge you now have of how your personality may influence a possible study or career choice, you might want to read about some of the skills the employers look for in graduates. There’s also our guide on how to map your study and career path and a look at some of the careers that didn’t exist a few years ago. If you feel ready to search for a university or degree, our course matcher tool is ideal.


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