Let’s face it, while a lot of professionals claim to have great “people skills,” working with others isn’t everyone’s strong suit.
As with any other aptitude, the ability to forge productive working relationships varies widely across the workforce. If you’re not particularly adept at collaborating with others – or find doing so obnoxious – you’re in good company. Conflict among co-workers is exceedingly common, affecting 85% of employees by some estimates.
If you don’t regard yourself as a “people person,” that insight is valuable in its own right. Many people overestimate their interpersonal abilities, taking pride in their social skills while ticking off their colleagues. By acknowledging your own preferences and shortcomings, you can identify professional opportunities suited to your personality.
To be sure, some folks earnestly want to get better at working with others. Developing your own “emotional intelligence” can fuel your professional success and deliver a ton of personal benefits. Plus, many companies invest heavily in building positive cultures, supporting social bonds between colleagues. If your aim is interpersonal improvement, there are many options out there.
What about jobs for people who actually prefer to work alone? There’s nothing wrong with desiring a solo career. Sure, science suggests strong bonds with others keep us happy and healthy, and we’d never recommend total social isolation. But if you feel fulfilled in your existing relationships, an independent line of work might be right up your alley. In many valuable professions, you don’t have to talk to people to excel.
In this article, we’ve compiled 10 great careers that allow you to work alone. They may not be entirely devoid of interaction because most jobs demand some form of communication, but these roles are largely autonomous – and free of office politics.
Ready to quit joking about how much you hate your co-workers and think seriously about working alone? Here are some attractive options.
10 Jobs for People Who Hate People – or For Those Who Just Like to Be Alone
1. Network Administrator
Sometimes, tension with a colleague arises from competing ideas or agenda, but as the administrator of a computer network, you’ll often be empowered to design, test, and deploy whole systems of your own creation.
People in this profession perform a wide range of roles, often contending with multiple kinds of technology. They may need to wrangle with technical barriers and questions of cost, but these are logical issues that rarely demand collaboration with others. Even when network administrators consult with colleagues or clients, these people rarely have the technical knowledge to intervene in their work.
However, certain network administrator positions do require a lot of interpersonal communication, such as interfacing with department heads. If you’re looking for something insulated from the daily demands of a team, a consulting role in this field might be ideal.
2. Web or Software Developer
The antisocial coder is an overblown archetype, but developers do enjoy a lot of independence. While bosses or clients set goals at the beginning of the development process, programmers are generally left alone to accomplish these objectives.
That means a lot of time staring at a screen and relatively little time interacting with others. If this mode of working sounds blissfully focused, web or software development could be the field for you.
One potential area of concern is feedback. A client or co-worker might ask you to make frustrating tweaks once you’ve finished your work. Still, the bulk of your work will be performed without outside input, a real perk for those who dread collaboration. Additionally, there are many freelance development opportunities for people who want to work on their own.
3. Research Scientist
Although quite competitive, research positions in biology, physics, and other sciences are the perfect gigs for certain brainy types. The chance to produce original research with little or no small talk required? To some people, that sounds like employment nirvana.
Professional scientists work in many settings, including universities, research institutes, public agencies, and the private sector. Some of these professionals work almost entirely alone, reporting their progress only rarely to their peers or supervisor. Others, such as scientists with teaching appointments, are required to interact with others more often.
One caveat to keep in mind is, if you hope that the results of your research will be widely discussed, you will need to make an effort to broadcast your findings. If you discover something compelling, you may need to get social after all.
4. Financial Analyst
Many finance jobs revolve around deals and relationships: From bond traders to investment bankers, people skills matter. In fact, many experts believe that success in finance often depends on one’s social abilities, but behind every powerful deal-maker, there’s at least one person crunching numbers like crazy. That could be where you come in.
Financial analysts perform a number of research tasks related to companies and markets. Often, they run complex calculations designed to quantify the likelihood of various outcomes, enabling others to make informed business decisions. Spreadsheets and financial models are the building blocks of their work – no chatting up clients required.
Some analysts can’t wait to advance past the research stage of their careers, moving on to networking and client interaction. If you’d rather stick to the facts and figures, you can let others do the socializing.
Much like financial analysts, trained economists pore over streams of data to reach opinions on fiscal matters. Their expertise is a detailed investigation, and they hit the books hard. Often, their research is unfettered by the distractions of human interaction.
Economists work in many settings, and while some are spared from socializing, others must make do with it. Economists with teaching positions at colleges, for example, are less likely to enjoy isolation from others. If you’re interested in avoiding interaction, a purely research-oriented role would be a better fit.
That being said, many economists serve as consultants, and some even work from the comfort of their homes. When it’s time to communicate their findings, these experts typically submit a report in writing to the organization that hired them.
Microsystems engineers, for example, inject unfathomable processing power into microscopic tools and devices. Photonics engineers specialize in lasers and fiber optics. Mechatronics experts develop smart devices and autonomous systems.
In each of these fields, introverts can delve deep into the problems and possibilities at hand, prioritizing solutions over socializing. Some work in extensive teams, but skilled engineers won’t struggle to find opportunities where they can excel independently.
7. Biomedical Engineer
Much like mechanical engineering, the biomedical field encompasses many related roles. Generally, biomedical engineers specialize in the development of technologies that solve health problems, such as new treatment devices or prosthetics.
This profession is at home in many kinds of institutions, including university labs, hospitals, and private sector manufacturers. Some of these environments are more social than others, but the engineer’s life is usually light on small talk. In the lab, you’ll be able to focus on the fascinating subject matter, and breakthroughs could significantly improve someone’s life.
Some accountants are extroverted, drumming up clients and making contacts. Others are eager to assume operational roles, directing the moves of whole departments, but the profession also works well for those who don’t relish socializing at work. By sticking to financial data, accountants can provide valuable analysis without directly engaging their colleagues.
You don’t even need to be part of an internal team or major consulting firm. These days, many accountants work as independent consultants, advising on specific matters without getting embedded in an office.
The digital age has opened up new opportunities for working writers, with many ways to monetize their art. From e-book authors to influential bloggers, writers often rely on multiple income sources, freelancing across several platforms.
While earnings can be inconsistent, writers often enjoy the ability to work from home – or the cafe of their choosing. Moreover, they have the luxury of lonely work, typing away without colleagues to distract them. For those willing to hustle for gigs, this perk is worth the challenges of the freelancer lifestyle.
10. Dog Walker
Sure, dog walking is often dismissed as a part-time hustle for those who like pets more than people, but if you’ve got sharp business acumen, you can make walking with pups a profession. This is particularly true if you market your services through popular apps or a local agency.
You will need to interact with people to some extent, especially as you network to find new clients. But on a daily basis, you’re walking these dogs because their owners are at work or out of town. In this sense, the majority of your working time will be totally people-free – not counting the ones you encounter on the sidewalk.
Going Solo or Finding a Better Fit
The professions described above are quite diverse, demanding different skills, expertise, and passion. While we hope at least a few of these jobs have piqued your interest, there are many more options available for aspiring solo workers.
If you really function best without collaboration, don’t hesitate to search for suitable opportunities. You might discover possibilities within your current industry or entire career categories you didn’t know existed.
As you seek these opportunities, however, it’s important to bear in mind that company cultures vary enormously. While your current workplace may feel inhospitable to your independent work style, you shouldn’t necessarily assume that other work environments will be similarly difficult.
If you find the right organization, its leaders may support your preference for autonomy, while also providing resources to further your success. This balance, while difficult to achieve, can offer certain workers the best of both worlds.
To find a great fit – either alone or within a supportive organization – start your search with us. Joblist’s platform helps you tailor your job search preferences, so you spend less time scrolling through irrelevant listings and more time exploring appealing options. Whether you’re the social type or a solo worker, we’ll help you find and apply for the perfect opportunity.