Are you an intuitive, reflective person who is tuned in to your own emotions as well as those of others? Do you tend to be very empathetic and sensitive to the moods of other people? Do you tend to pick up on subtleties in the environment that others miss? If so, that may mean you are what psychologists refer to as a highly sensitive person (HSP). If so, you'll be happiest in a job where you can pair your professional skills with an opportunity to use your empathic nature.
10 Career Paths for Highly Sensitive People
Highly sensitive people tend to be particularly well-suited for jobs that require taking in and interpreting sensory information. Some empaths prefer to work independently, but many enjoy working as part of a team. It's generally best for HSPs to avoid jobs that require working in a hectic, fast-paced environment that doesn't allow time for reflection. The nervous systems of HSPs can become overloaded when bombarded with too much sensory input at once. Following are ten ideal jobs for highly sensitive people.
Highly sensitive people who also have writing skills may find professional writing to be a rewarding profession. Having a thoughtful nature and being able to interpret situations through the perspectives of others are definitely assets for novelists and others who pursue careers in creative writing. Investigative journalism and nonfiction writing may also be good career paths for HSPs, especially those who enjoy researching complex topics and sharing what they have learned with others.
Artists tend to be highly sensitive people, as their unique creative talents require the ability to capture what is going on in the world around them or with other people and bring it to life via a visual medium. This is what portrait artists, landscape artists, sculptors, photographers, and other visual artists do on a daily basis. In addition to creating works of art, highly sensitive people are well suited for a variety of art-related careers, including working in art museums or galleries.
Working as a massage therapist is another good job for highly sensitive people to consider. Massage therapists work with people one-on-one in an environment that is designed to be as relaxing and low stress as possible. Most massage therapists focus on helping their clients relax and let go of the stress they're internalizing that is causing them to experience pain. Being very intuitive and having the ability to sense others' feelings is a definite advantage in this field.
Counselor or Therapist
Highly sensitive people are uniquely suited to work in the field of mental health. They make excellent counselors or therapists, as they have the patience and empathy to help people work through their challenges and struggles. There are many types of therapists and counselors. For example, family therapists and counselors help people navigate complex relationships, while grief counselors help people cope with profound loss. Career counselors help people find their professional path.
Musicians need to be able to communicate deep meaning and emotion through sound, something that comes naturally to highly sensitive individuals who also have musical talent. There are many ways to work as a musician, from performing in a band or musical theatre production to working as a studio musician, singer, or songwriter. Musicians can also find career success behind the scenes as sound engineers or by inspiring the next generation as music teachers.
Working as an accountant requires keen attention to detail and a high degree of concentration. This type of job is a great option for highly sensitive people who are good with numbers and want a job that will provide them with a way to escape (for a while) from constantly processing an influx of sensory information from others. Accounting jobs can provide HSPs with relief from the emotional overload they are prone to experience, freeing them to focus their empathic gifts outside of work.
Small Business Owner
For highly sensitive people who also have an entrepreneurial nature, starting a small business can be a perfect career path. There are as many small business ideas as there are products and services to sell. There are many low-cost entrepreneurial ideas, such as using your creativity to launch a home-based knitting or candle-making business, as well as things like leveraging expertise to start a service business or opening a coffee shop or diner where people can gather.
Working as a tutor can be a great option for highly sensitive individuals who enjoy providing learning support to others. Tutoring services contract with or hire people to provide one-to-one assistance for clients, including both in-person and online tutoring job opportunities. It's also possible to start a home-based tutoring business, which provides maximum schedule flexibility and an opportunity to focus one's efforts on helping learners in the local community.
Working as a fashion designer can be a good career path for artistically inclined HSPS who like the idea of helping others express themselves through the apparel they wear. Having the traits of a highly sensitive person is a great asset for fashion designers, as they need to be able to sense the unique fashion needs of people with all body shapes, cultural backgrounds, and fashion concerns.
Succeeding as a police detective or investigator requires a strong understanding of other people, which makes this a good career path for HSPs. Not only do detectives and investigators have to be meticulous in gathering and analyzing evidence, but they also have to know how to ask the right questions to get to the truth. They need to be able to sense when witnesses or suspects are being truthful or deceptive, while maintaining empathy for those who have been victimized in some way.
Worst Jobs for a Highly Sensitive Person
The worst jobs for highly sensitive people are fast-paced jobs that require constant multitasking and a nonstop influx of sensory data. If you're highly sensitive, it's a good idea to avoid jobs that will land you in the middle of a chaotic environment. For example, working on the stock exchange floor involves a frantic pace, fast, high-stake decision-making, and constant noise. This kind of workplace would be extremely stressful for a highly sensitive person. Other examples of jobs that aren't ideal for HSPs include:
- Retail sales
- Public relations
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 or support a team. During interviews, ask questions about the work environment to find out what the pace is like and the extent to which multitasking is required. Be prepared to pitch your unique ability to understand others and anticipate their needs as one of your greatest strengths. By looking for work that suits your workplace communication style and personality, you'll be able to find a job where your highly sensitive nature is truly an asset.