Choosing a College Major Based on Your Personality

If you think choosing a college is a big decision, just wait until you have to choose a major! After all, your choice of major goes on to determine your career. And your career goes on to determine your salary, social circle, and even the enjoyment you get out of going to work each day. Fortunately, there’s one sure-fire way to ensure you choose wisely: choose a major based on your personality. Keep scrolling for a step-by-step guide to choosing a major based on your personality, and setting yourself up for a happy college career and beyond!

Take our College Major Personality Quiz to determine which careers are best suited for your personality!

#1. Understand Why Your Personality Impacts Your Major

Because your choice of major is linked to your future career choice, choosing the right major is not a decision to take lightly. Studies have shown that those who choose the right major are more likely to make solid college friendships and to surround themselves with people of similar values and interests. Those same studies show that people who choose a career based on their personality are more likely to find both success and happiness in their day-to-day work life.

Think about it this way: people with the same personality types who work together typically create an environment that suits them well. In that well-suited environment, people will find that their skills, abilities, and ideas are likely to be valued. Finally, people whose skills, abilities, and ideas are valued are more likely to be happy and successful. Therefore, choosing the right major for your personality is the first step to life-long career happiness.

#2. Commit to Choosing a Major That’s Right for You and Your Goals

Each year, thousands of university students choose a major for the wrong reasons. Some simply choose the quickest and easiest path to graduation. Others choose their majors based on what their parents want them to do, or which majors their friends or significant others are choosing. Still, others choose based on which majors and careers are most likely to make them rich. But as tempting as these easy decisions may seem, none of them are worth the struggles they bring.

It’s important to choose a major for the right reasons. Though these worthwhile reasons vary from student to student, a common reason is to choose a major that is more likely to earn you higher grades and on-time graduation. It’s also appropriate to choose a major you’re more likely to stick with from the initial decision to the day of graduation. All of these reasons are the byproducts of choosing a major based on your personality.

#3. Introduce Yourself to the Personality Types

There are lots of different breakdowns of personality types. One of the most popular is the Myers-Briggs. Upon taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, one can find out which of the following personality types best fits their personality.

  • The Analysts:
    • The Architect: imaginative, strategic, planners
    • The Logician: innovative, curious, logical
    • The Commander: bold, imaginative, strong-willed
    • The Debater: smart, curious, intellectual
  • The Diplomats:
    • The Advocate: quiet, mystical, idealist
    • The Mediator: poetic, kind, altruistic
    • The Protagonist: charismatic, inspiring, natural leaders
    • The Campaigner: enthusiastic, creative, sociable
  • The Sentinels
    • The Logistician: practical, fact-minded, reliable
    • The Defender: protective, warm, caring
    • The Executive: organized, punctual, leader
    • The Consul: caring, social, popular
  • The Explorers
    • The Virtuoso: bold, practical, experimental
    • The Adventurer: artistic, charming, explorers
    • The Entrepreneur: smart, energetic, perceptive
    • The Entertainer: spontaneous, energetic, enthusiastic

Of course, no one is a single personality type. Most people are actually 2-3 types, with one type being dominant. This is why a number of traits show up in more than one type. For example, both Commanders and Virtuosos can be “bold,” while “energetic” is a trait that describes both Entrepreneurs and Entertainers.

#4. Take the Test to Find Your Type

To find where you land on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, you can use the free personality tests at 16 Personalities and Human Metrics. You can also pay a small fee for certified results on the official website of The Myers & Briggs Foundation. These quizzes consist of a series of questions, then use your answers to determine your dominant personality type and any secondary types.

#5. Make a List of Careers that Match Your Personality

The next step to choosing a major based on your personality is to make a list of all the careers that you think fit your personality type. Don’t hold back here; you are not committed to even considering a career just because you’ve written it down. By working backwards from careers, you will be able to find just the right major. Write down anything you can think of, but also use resources such as The Princeton Review and PayScale. The list below can also help to get you started.

  • The Architect: Lawyer, Technical Writer, Computer Programmer, Civil Engineer, Pharmacist, Actuary
  • The Logician: Financial Manager, Actuary, Aerospace Engineer, Industrial Engineer, Baker, Dentist
  • The Commander: Accountant, Real Estate Manager, Sales Representative, Nuclear Engineer
  • The Debater: Architect, Financial Analyst, Graphic Designer, Political Scientist, Lawyer, Web Developer
  • The Advocate: Physical Therapist, Family Physician, Social Worker, Clergy, Environmental Scientist
  • The Mediator: Librarian, Human Resources Specialist, Chiropractor, Midwife, Veterinarian
  • The Protagonist: Marriage Therapist, Teacher, Journalist, Real Estate Broker, Film Director, Lawyer
  • The Campaigner: Film Director, Journalist, Librarian, Sales Manager, Flight Attendant
  • The Logistician: Budget Analyst, Actuary, Engineer, Nuclear Technician, Farmer, Scientist, Airline Pilot
  • The Defender: Forensic Scientist, Doctor, Teacher, Accountant, Loan Officer, Actuary, Police Officer
  • The Executive: Pilot, Physician, Office Manager, Restaurateur, Stockbroker, Engineer, Budget Analyst
  • The Consul: Special Education Teacher, Surgeon, Dietician, Hotel Manager, Paralegal, Police Officer
  • The Virtuoso: Carpenter, Air Traffic Controller, Military Officer, Photographer, ER Physician
  • The Adventurer: Fashion Designer, Teacher, Nurse, Graphic Designer, Animal Trainer, Translator
  • The Entrepreneur: Mechanic, Restaurateur, Paramedic, Financial Planner, Respiratory Therapist
  • The Entertainer: Teacher, Social Worker, Chef, Event Coordinator, Firefighter, Pediatrician

Use your main personality type as a starting point, then add career ideas for your secondary personality type. Remember, you’re under no obligation to even consider a career even though you’ve written it down. The purpose is simply to get a long, solid list of careers that fit your personality.

#6: Make a List of Careers That Interest You

The sixth step you can take to find the right major to fit your personality is to create a list of any and all careers that interest you. Perhaps you are interested in teaching. There are dozens of potential careers within education that you can add to your list. Maybe you are intrigued by the idea of medicine. There are a ton of careers in the medical field that are likely to interest you. Is Indiana Jones your all-time favorite movie? Archeologist and anthropologist are both exciting job prospects! If you’d like, you can also make a third (or fourth!) list of careers that match something you value — a high starting salary, early retirement, or helping people, for example.

#7. Compare Your Lists

Once you have completed your list of jobs that interest you, compare it to your first list. Are there any careers that show up on both lists? If so, these are careers worth exploring further. Be open to new ideas, too. For example, if “Police Officer” is on your list of careers that interest you, but the similar “Detective” appears on your list of careers that match your personality, consider researching and thinking further about a future career as a detective.

#8: Narrow Down the Majors that are Best Suited for your Personality

By now, you have a solid list of career options that align with both your personality type and your interests. Now it’s time to work backward. Use websites like LinkedIn and PayScale to figure out which potential majors could lead to each career on your list. Be specific. For example, if you’re researching “teacher,” potential majors could be anything from Early Childhood Education, to Special Education, to Curriculum and Instruction. It’s okay to have multiple majors for a career, too. The idea here is to simply figure out which path leads to your final career choice.

#9: Research Potential Majors

Now it’s time to begin researching. Use whatever resources you can to find out anything and everything about the majors on your list. If you have not yet chosen a school, then use websites like College Navigator to find which colleges and universities offer each major.

If you have chosen a school, or are already at a school, then visit the department that offers each major. Interview students and faculty. Do these people share your interests, values, and views? Expand your search to those who are currently pursuing the major, or who are working in your potential career. Ask the same questions. Do they seem compatible with you? Are they people you could admire? Once you begin acquiring information, your options will begin to clarify, and making a final decision will become easier.

Because you already know that each major you’re researching aligns with your personality, making a final decision should at least exclude the stress of wondering if it’s right for you. For further tips about making a final decision, we discuss 10 Tips for Choosing the Best College Major here.

#10. Enjoy Your College Career

Once you’ve chosen your major based on your personality, you can be confident that you’ve set yourself up for the very best of college careers. Have fun, enjoy learning, treasure the people around you, and know that you’re on your way to a career that is sure to make you happy!

Related Links:

10 Tips for Choosing the Best College

The 20 Most Affordable Colleges with High Four-Year Graduation Rates

Planning for your First Year in College

Planning for Four Years of College