INTPs at Work
INTPs can and do prefer to work alone and uninterrupted for long stretches of time. A study found that INTPs rated the most important features of a job as being "Variety of Tasks" and "Independence and Achievement" (Myers, McCaulley, Quenk & Hammer, 1998). These characteristics were liked by over 80% of the respondents. In addition, continual learning, skill-building and problem solving opportunities are major sources of job satisfaction for this type. Unfortunately, such opportunities tend to dry up as the INTP masters the various functions of their job; for this reason INTPs often find themselves bored and burnt out.
In fact, Myers et al. (1998) found that INTPs and INFPs have the lowest job satisfaction of all types. Both types noted that they were dissatisfied with their company, the work they did, and their future job opportunites. They also noted that they were likely to leave their current job. Otis and Louks (1997) found that INTPs and INFJs have the shortest mean time in their jobs--meaning they switch jobs a lot.
Hammer (1993) composed a short list of occupational trends for each of the types. Most of the types have three trends listed, i.e. "Counseling, Teaching, Religion, Arts" for the ENFP or "Management, Leadership" for the ENTJ. The INTPs had only one occupational trend listed, the least of all types. That trend was "Scientific or technical fields." Evidently there are few areas that INTPs really go for.
Myers et al. (1998) attempted to ascertain what working environment characteristics were Liked, Disliked or viewed as Indifferent by the various types. This yielded some fascinating results.
For example, 73.7% of INTP respondents indicated that they liked "Clear structure and responsibilities." However, even though they did like this characteristic, they actually liked it the least of all types. In a similar manner, 53.5% of INTPs responded that they liked "Loyalty/Security"--though again they liked it the least of all. 61.5% of INTPs liked "Work as part of team," but yes, they liked it the least of all types. The characteristics that INTPs liked the most of all types included "International opportunities" (liked by more than 50%) and "Advancement/pay, not security."
Advancement/pay, not security? It may be of interest to note that a study of 341 software technical professionals found that ENTPs and INTPs were the types most likely to choose the career path of owning their own business (Garden, 1997).