After I wrote my article Bad Career Choices and the Enneagram, I realized that there weren’t really all that many websites/books/studies done out there that linked this exciting personality type system to various compatible careers. And many of the ones that are out there are very general and give very “obvious” answers that may not always be accurate. So, I have put together a list of careers by type that really examines where the skills of a particular type can be put to work. Some of these careers will be new to you, if you’ve read other guides. There are a few surprises in here!
Once again, if you do not know your enneagram personality type, click here to figure it out.
Also, if you are interested the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, check out my series on self-employment and the MBTI here.
Type 1 – Ones often flourish in environments that are consistent, stable and with a good degree of structure. Where structure doesn’t exist, they will be happy to create it! Your average one has an incredible ability to remember facts, useful information and have a good degree of seeing “what is wrong and what needs to be fixed” in a given situation. They will rarely make mistakes when it comes to details. Ones don’t necessarily want to tear their hair out in the typical office job (which makes me wonder if life would be easier if I were a one!) While they will thrive “at the office” Ones can also make good entrepreneurs because they are so organized and consistent.
Suggested Careers for Ones: Anything where there are plenty of clear rules, opportunity of advancement, a pecking order, and consistent people to work with!
- Secretary, Administrative or Executive Assistant
- Manager (Mid or Upper-level)
- Financial Planner/Advisor
- Law Clerk/Paralegal
- Urban Planner
- Attorney (1′s make some of the most effective lawyers of all the types because of a keen attention to detail)
- Technical Director
- Computer Programmer
Type 2 – One of the common misconceptions about twos is that they will flourish in “helping” professions. In reality, twos spend so much of their time thinking about how they can make others comfortable, that a career in such a field could possibly push them over the top! Twos don’t need a career where they help people directly. They need to feel that they are helping indirectly, by working for a group that shares a cause they believe in. If you are a two, save the selfless behavior for outside the office. You’ll be happy you did, as this enables you to separate your work life from your home life.
Suggested Careers for Twos: Work for any non-profit organization, or a career working with volunteers are good for this type.
- Teacher (especially middle school and below)
- Fashion designer
- Retail and salesperson
- Graphic designer
- Wedding Planner
- Stay-at-home parent
Type 3 – While it is true that threes enjoy professions in which they can rise to the top and run the show, what they really need is to feel admired and respected by their co-workers and peers. It is less important than you might think for a three to be “uber-successful.” Threes want to enjoy their jobs, like anyone else, but they also want to shine and make a contribution in their field. Getting employee of the month at a fairly menial job might be more important to a three than making a high salary but being ignored and taken for granted. They do, however, love to be around important and influential people.
Suggested Careers for Threes: A three will feel the best in a career with potential for promotion, advancement, a chance to shine, and a high salary ceiling.
- Agent (sports, travel, literary or insurance)
- Public Relations Director
- Executive Assistant
- Personal Assistant (but only to someone who is influential!)
- Gossip Columnist
- Political Activist (or even a straight-up politician)
- Inspirational Speaker or Writer
- Life and Business coach
Type 4 – As stated in my earlier article about bad careers for the enneagram types, fours often have trouble finding meaningful work. There are “good” careers for a four, but since they are so idealistic, it’s never easy to find the right fit. Such an idealistic type is most suited to work with a great deal of flexibility and where there is some room for self-expression. They would be miserable in a stiff environment where every day was the same and there was no room for opinion or alternative suggestions to problem solving.
Suggested Careers for Fours: It is possible for a four to thrive in a variety of careers as long as self-expression and some degree of creativity is a possibility.
- Holistic Health Practitioner
- Yoga/Dance Instructor
- Relationship/Couples Counselor
- Life Coach
- Crisis-line operator
- Web/Graphic Designer
*side note – check out this great new book on the Enneagram and Careers:
Type 5 – Fives are similar to fours in many ways. They are deep, independent, and not mainstream. However, their range of interests trend more toward the cerebral rather than the emotional. Fives love science and technology of all kinds, and a career in one of these fields would definitely be optimal. Fives also have the gift of being able to work independently, which is critical in research positions, which they would also enjoy. Long hours of study and alone-time with something gripping and engaging will appeal to this type. More extroverted types would shy away from and/or become bored with some of these positions. Fives can really make a difference in the world through pioneering (and sometimes isolating) research!
Suggested Careers for Fives: Science and technology are areas where Fives will thrive.
- Risk-Management Advisor (financial)
- Chemical or Electrical Engineer
- Architectural Drafter/Engineer
- Environmental Planner
- Game Designer
- Medical Researcher
- College Professor
- Software Designer
- Technical Support
- Web Developer/Designer/Database Administrator
Type 6 – I have read a lot about phobic/counterphobic sixes in various enneagram books and I must say that it’s hard to buy into the hype. A “counterphobic six” is really just a mood they might go through on a bad day. And certainly when considering a career, a six should think about who they really are, which is friendly, adaptable, cautious, meticulous, loyal and a great team player. By nature, they are not daredevil lawbreakers and, in the long run, would not be happy in occupations with high risk, no matter how “counterphobic” they may be feeling!
Suggested Careers for Sixes: There are plenty of great careers for sixes, providing there are plenty of jobs available.
- Elementary School Teacher
- Child-Care Worker
- Administrative Assistant/Secretary
- Credit/Loans Officer or Counselor
- Escort/Security Guard
- Financial Aid Counselor
- Public Notary
- Actuarial Scientist
- Health and Safety Inspector
- Technical Support
- Insurance Underwriter
Type 7 – One place you will not find a happy seven is in an office on a beautiful summer day. In fact, you might not find a happy seven in an office on a nasty, stormy day either. They are more likely to be out there chasing the storm, taking pictures of it. But only for a week or two when they will happily go by the title “storm-chaser.” Sevens change direction, focus, and career so often that it’s difficult to even write this section for them. Unlike the other types, a “career” for a seven is often just a passing fancy that will change from one moment to the next, like the weather.
Suggested careers for Sevens: A seven will do well in self-employment or a “fun” job of some kind
- Small Business Owner (multiple businesses are often good)
- Tour/Travel/Adventure guide
- Food Critic
- Park Ranger
- Professional Athlete
- Professional Gambler
- Nightclub Owner
- Cruise Ship Entertainer
Type 8 – Eights love to be successful, but what they need even more is autonomy. Like sevens, eights hate being told what to do, and love coming up with their own answers to problems. Eights are natural leaders because they are willing to shoulder the responsibility and make the decisions that others are reluctant to make. They are also dead honest because they are unafraid of criticism. This gives them a lot of integrity, and they can be trusted on the job. This trait makes them awesome candidates for managerial positions.
Suggested Careers for Eights: A good career for an eight allows for plenty of scope to make decisions and make a difference in the world.
- Event Coordinator
- Financial Advisor
- Career Counselor
- Organizational Psychologist
- CEO/CFO/CAO (any size company)
- Marketing Manager
- Director of Sales
- Restaurant Owner/Manager
- Healthcare Administrator
- Market Strategist
- Advertising Executive
- President of the World
Type 9 – When you ask a young nine what they want to be when they grow up, he may give you an answer like, “myself” or “I don’t care.” Don’t be surprised. Nines often aren’t “career” oriented, especially at younger ages. Sometimes they are so laid-back about life that they can be content anywhere. That doesn’t mean that they will be happy with or succeed at any old job, but it does mean that this type has some career flexibility. It’s important that a nine do something productive so they don’t end up sitting around all day and letting life pass them by.
Suggested Careers for Nines: The more stress-free the career, the better.
- Product Tester
- Electronics/Automotive Salesperson
- Retail Clerk
- Delivery Driver
- School Counselor
- Animal Trainer/Veterinarian
- Film Editor
- Musician/Musical Instructor(9′s almost universally love music)
- Clothing Designer
Also see my article: Bad Career Choices and the Enneagram