What Career You Should Have, Based On Your 'Big Five' Personality Traits

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people deciding on their big 5 personality careers

When you finally get accepted into the college of your choice, it doesn't end the agonizing decisions you have to make — it begins them. Now that you know where you're going to be, you have to decide if you're going to live in the dorms or off campus and if you'll live by yourself or with roommates.

But most important of all, you have to figure out what you'll be studying and what your major will be. "What's your major?" is the ultimate ice-breaker, and it is what school officials will need to know in order to steer you in the right direction when you register for classes.

It can be excruciating trying to decide on a course study that will keep your interest and hopefully provide you with the materials you'll need for your future, especially in your career. But one study may have the answer as to what career works best for you, and it all depends on your "Big Five" personality traits.

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The Big Five, also known as the Five-Factor Model, is a widely accepted framework in psychology that describes personality traits. It categorizes human personality into five major dimensions: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (often using the acronym OCEAN). These traits provide a comprehensive understanding of individual differences in behavior, thoughts, and emotions.

A 2016 study that reviewed 12 studies from 13,389 students found that students with specific personality traits have a tendency to major in certain subjects.

Psychologist Anna Vedel of Aarhus University in Denmark reported finding "consistent big five personality groups across academic majors. The big five personality traits are the best accepted and most commonly used model of personality in academic psychology...

"By taking into account some general personality characteristics of student populations, teachers and instructors may be better equipped to the task of structuring the learning environment in a way that engages the students, makes them feel comfortable and facilitates their learning process," Vedel wrote.

If you're having trouble figuring out a major, take the big five personality test and see how you score. Let your strongest characteristic help you decide on your course of study.

The Best Career For You, Based On Your Big Five Personality Traits

Extraversion: Law, political science, economics, medicine

People with this trait are enthusiastic, people persons, love to talk, are very emotionally expressive, and tend to gain energy in social situations.

Individuals with high levels of extraversion are often outgoing and energized by social interactions. They enjoy the company of others and easily engage in conversation and group activities.

They tend to be assertive and confident, readily expressing their thoughts and opinions. Their enthusiasm and excitement can be contagious, making them natural leaders and captivating storytellers.

People high in extraversion seek external stimulation and often enjoy being the center of attention. They may enjoy participating in various activities and events, seeking novelty and new experiences.

They are generally optimistic and positive, seeing the brighter side of life and approaching challenges with enthusiasm. Their sociability and ability to connect with others often result in a wide network of friends and acquaintances.

While they thrive in social situations, individuals high in extraversion may sometimes seek external validation and have a tendency to speak before thinking. They may have a preference for action and spontaneity over careful deliberation.

Best careers for people with high levels of extraversion: Naturally, this person would match up well with a bold career that also allows them to be their outspoken selves, such as a career in the law or medical fields. They may also excel in other jobs like human resources, marketing, public relations, and sales.

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Agreeableness: Social work, nursing, hospitality management

These individuals are trustworthy, generous, kind, and like to help other people.

Individuals with high levels of agreeableness tend to be warm and considerate, placing a strong emphasis on harmonious relationships and the well-being of others. They genuinely care about people's feelings and strive to maintain a peaceful and cooperative environment.

They are often cooperative and accommodating, preferring to avoid confrontation and seeking compromise and consensus instead. They value teamwork and are skilled at fostering collaboration and resolving conflicts in a diplomatic and gentle manner.

People high in agreeableness are good listeners and show a genuine interest in other's perspectives and needs. They are empathetic and understanding, making them approachable and trustworthy for providing support and guidance.

They have a strong sense of empathy, which enables them to easily understand and resonate with the emotions and experiences of others. This empathy allows them to offer emotional support, act as mediators, and build strong interpersonal connections.

Individuals high in agreeableness often prioritize maintaining social harmony, sometimes at the expense of their own needs and desires. They may be more inclined to comply with others' requests and find it challenging to assert themselves or express disagreement.

Best careers for people with high levels of agreeableness: With these qualities in mind, choosing a career path that allows these individuals the opportunity to showcase their caring natures and drive to help others is ideal. They fit well as therapists, counselors, social workers, nurses, customer service representatives, and in nonprofit work.

Openness: Art, psychology, women/gender studies, language arts

Openness is a very good quality to have, and it means that you have a lot of imagination, creativity, and insight and that you're interested in many different kinds of things.

Individuals with high levels of openness are characterized by their curiosity, imagination, and appreciation for art, ideas, and new experiences. They have a strong desire for intellectual stimulation and enjoy exploring diverse perspectives, cultures, and unconventional ideas.

They are often innovative, thinking outside the box and approaching problems with unique solutions. Their openness to new possibilities allows them to embrace change and adapt quickly to new situations.

People high in openness tend to be intellectually curious and constantly seek knowledge. They have a deep appreciation for learning, engaging in intellectual discussions, and pursuing intellectual and artistic pursuits.

They are open-minded and nonjudgmental, accepting and tolerant of different beliefs, values, and lifestyles. They value diversity and are often receptive to new ideas and alternative viewpoints, fostering an inclusive and accepting environment.

Best careers for people with high levels of openness: These individuals have many choices. They can let their creative juices flow and choose an artistic path, or perhaps put their deep insight to the test with something like a gender studies focus.

Jobs that will best suit someone like this would be anything to do with the arts like a culture manager or research like a scientist. Other jobs include consultant, analyst, journalist, or conservationist.

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Conscientiousness: Accounting, architecture, biology, urban planning, journalism, aeronautics

Some people believe that conscientiousness is the best trait to have, as it means you're self-disciplined, scrupulous, meticulous, careful, and have a need to achieve.

People with high levels of conscientiousness are characterized by their strong sense of responsibility, organization, and diligence. They are reliable and committed to achieving their goals, often displaying a high degree of self-discipline and self-control.

They are detail-oriented and have a strong focus on accuracy and precision. Their organized approach allows them to effectively plan, prioritize tasks, and meet deadlines consistently, demonstrating a strong work ethic and commitment to quality.

They take their commitments seriously, follow through on their promises, and can be counted on to fulfill their obligations. They often excel in roles that require attention to detail and a structured approach.

Individuals high in conscientiousness set high standards for themselves and work hard to meet and exceed them. Their commitment to personal growth and continuous improvement drives them to consistently perform at a high level.

Best careers for people with high levels of consciousness: Individuals with a lot of discipline and ambition can succeed at practically anything they put their minds to. However, the best jobs for individuals high in conscientiousness include project manager, legal aid, accountant, aerospace engineer, and architect.

Neuroticism: Theater, history, and philosophy

Neuroticism one is all about emotional instability since you might guess with mood swings, anxiety, and irritability.

People with high levels of neuroticism may be highly sensitive to stressors and have a tendency to perceive situations as threatening or negative. They often exhibit a heightened self-consciousness and are more likely to dwell on past negative experiences or anticipate future negative outcomes. This can lead to a tendency to overthink, ruminate, and have a pessimistic outlook on life.

People high in neuroticism may also have a higher susceptibility to experiencing intense emotions such as sadness, anger, and fear. They may be more reactive to everyday stressors and can struggle with managing their emotional responses.

They may exhibit a greater need for reassurance and support from others, seeking validation and guidance to help alleviate their anxieties and insecurities. This "need" for external validation can impact their self-esteem and decision-making processes.

Best careers for people with high levels of neuroticism: Channeling energy into something like the performing arts can make for a successful career path. Other jobs best suited for these individuals include poet, crisis hotline operator, art therapist, composer, healthcare professional, and counselor.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or her Instagram.