1. The caring professions
This broad category includes careers such as nurse, doctor, and physical therapist, as well as social workers, psychotherapists, and personal coaches. These fields play to HSP strengths, including empathy, compassion, and intuitive awareness of others’ needs. Of course, you’ll deal with a lot of emotions from other people, but HSPs in general seem drawn to these fields and often find them extremely fulfilling. (Check out recent advice from HSP therapists on how to manage emotions through self-care and set boundaries.)
2. Creative professional
This includes roles such as graphic designer, copywriter, animator, movie set designer… anyone who puts their artistic talents to work as a day job. These professions can be a nice way to build professional experience and earn money while developing your talents as an artist. As a bonus, these jobs tend to be very easy to do on a freelance basis, which gives HSPs the flexibility and autonomy they crave in their schedules.
Many HSPs are deeply spiritual, and often take their beliefs more seriously than those around them. At the same time, HSPs are likely to be encouraging and open-minded. This makes for a potent combination in any clergy person. Of course, HSPs tend to be more intuitive than dogmatic about their spirituality, and may have to put up with a certain amount of structure to work as clergy. But that could be well worth it, especially to serve in one of the few professions where sensitivity and intuition are still valued.
Academia can be competitive, but it also tends to move at a thoughtful pace that allows HSPs to use their strengths. You get to spend part of your time doing careful, focused work where deep insights are valued. You also get to spend time teaching and helping students, but only for part of your day — and not even every day. Perhaps most importantly, you get to do meaningful work related to a topic you truly care about.
5. Business owner
As an employee, many HSPs feel unfairly passed over for promotions, as if they aren’t “leadership material.” But that’s simply not true — an HSP can be a powerful force at the head of a company. Many of the most successful small businesses, such as boutiques, galleries, and coffee shops, can flourish when headed by a sensitive person. An HSP will create a welcoming, calming atmosphere; design a space that truly stands out; and build a loyal team of staff who enjoy their jobs and like helping customers. If you have a vision for a business, it’s a good way to go.
6. Non-profit professional
This one comes with a big caveat: Non-profit work can be just as stressful as private sector work. Many non-profits aren’t as well organized as traditional businesses, and some use their good mission to justify long hours or below-average wages. But don’t let that deter you. There are just as many non-profits where the culture is healthy, cooperative, and focused on truly creating good in the world. Non-profit professions that are especially good for HSPs include administrative roles, executive director, marketing, membership manager, grant researcher/writer, and potentially even major fundraising jobs (depending on how aggressive the funding goals are and how supportive the culture is).
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7. IT professional
Coding is very much a creative process, and one that’s best done by someone with an eye for detail and strong intuition. That means that HSPs have a distinct edge as a software engineer, website developer, or in any role that requires tech savvy. Many technology jobs also sport a more relaxed work atmosphere and a focus on remote work, which are also boons for highly sensitive people.
These are our top picks, but they’re just a starting point. As a highly sensitive person, the best way to find a meaningful job is to think about your own personal strengths and start from there — and pay close attention to the culture of a workplace before signing on. If you can plant yourself somewhere that feels nurturing, you’ll find that work can be fun… and maybe even burnout-free.