Careers for Highly Sensitive People

graphic designer

Careers for highly sensitive people, or HSPs, celebrate their tendency to take in and interpret more sensory information than most people do, while keeping them out of situations that can cause them to become overwhelmed.

What Is a Highly Sensitive Person?

According to Dr. Elaine N. Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, in an interview at Joyful Work for Sensitive People, 20 percent of the population inherits the highly sensitive trait. Highly sensitive people often pick up on subtleties in their environment that others miss. However, they can easily become overwhelmed, tired and frazzled because their nervous systems overload in an attempt to process too much sensory input at once.

Best Careers for Highly Sensitive People

Many of the careers for highly sensitive people have a creative orientation because people with high sensitivity adeptly process and convey ideas and feelings. Jobs that allow a sensitive person to work independently or one-on-one with another person tend to work best because too much stimulation could hinder the highly sensitive person's performance on a job. Some of the best careers for HSPs include:

  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Artist
  • Massage therapist
  • Counselor
  • Actor
  • Accountant
  • Musician
  • Personal assistant
  • Business owner
  • Music teacher
  • Tutor
  • Interior designer
  • Fashion designer
  • Detective
  • Investigator
  • Perfume tester
  • Analyst

Highly sensitive people should look for careers that allow down time throughout the day so that they can recuperate from very stimulating environments. Down time at work won't consist of rest and relaxation, of course, but will allow windows of alone time interspersed throughout the day so that HSPs can recharge. It is important for highly sensitive people to accept this about themselves because attempting to process so much information at once can deplete energy long before the day is over. For more information on finding the ideal career as a highly sensitive person, you may be interested in Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person by Barrie S. Jaeger.

What Highly Sensitive People Offer the Workplace

While society sometimes looks down on sensitivity as if it is a flaw, highly sensitive people bring quite a few assets to the table in the right work environment. Examples include:

  • Attention to detail
  • Loyalty
  • Creativity
  • Intuition
  • Ability to read others' emotions well and react accordingly
  • Avoidance of office politics
  • Require little supervision
  • Ability to focus and think deeply about issue

Issues that highly sensitive individuals may have to overcome include:

  • Being afraid of rejection
  • Having trouble performing in front of others
  • Difficulty forming bonds with other employees
  • Shutting down and becoming numb when faced with too much sensory information at once
  • Finding jobs that allow for unsupervised stretches of alone time

Finding Your Perfect Job

If you're a highly sensitive person, look for jobs that will work well with your creative nature and your ability to work alone. Similarly avoid jobs that will land you in the middle of a chaotic environment, which is likely to shatter your ability to focus and leave you feeling drained mid-shift. Make sure you ask questions about the work environment during your interviews, such as how often you will work without supervision. Look at the HSPs sensitivities, like the ability to understand others and anticipate their needs, as an asset in the workplace. Also, it's important to understand yourself so that you can achieve success in a job that works well for HSPs.

Careers for Highly Sensitive People