You don't have to schmooze to succeed in your career - shy people may thrive in these career options.
Do you ever worry that you're too quiet or shy to succeed in the professional world?
Relax. There are plenty of career opportunities where shy people may shine.
"As a quiet, shy person, or introvert, you can succeed at numerous career paths in business, the sciences, academia, government, the arts, and the nonprofit world," says Nancy Ancowitz, a business communication coach and author of "Self-Promotion for Introverts."
"Explore careers that play to your quiet strengths - reading, researching, writing, concentrating deeply, and problem-solving largely on your own," adds Ancowitz.
Check out these six careers that could be more on the quiet side. To help you get started, we also point out the educational options.
Career #1 - Accountant
If you enjoy the quiet concentration of doing math and working with facts and figures, consider pursuing a career as an accountant.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as an accountant you might calculate and submit payment of taxes for your clients, organize financial records, and maintain financial records. You might also suggest different ways for reducing costs and improving profits.
How is it ideal for quiet people? "Individuals and businesses will always need someone to manage their financial P's and Q's," Ancowitz says. "If you're a quiet or shy person with a knack for numbers, you may be well suited to preparing and analyzing financial statements and tax records. As more of a 'workhorse' than a 'show horse,' you get to add enormous value to an organization through lots of quiet number crunching rather than constant schmoozing."
How can I prepare for this career? According to the Department of Labor, you'll be required to have at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field to pursue a career as an accountant. The Department also notes that getting certified as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) might improve your job prospects or help you gain clients.
Career #2 - Computer Programmer
Think a career in front of the computer best fits your quiet personality? Consider preparing to pursue a career as a computer programmer.
As a computer programmer, you might write code in computer languages like C++ and Java to create software programs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. You could also test programs to make sure they're working properly, and fix the code to correct any found mistakes.
How is it ideal for quiet people? "Not big on small talk? Think of yourself as a computer whisperer," Ancowitz says. "Your inclination to immerse yourself in tasks that most mortals consider mind-numbing is one of your gifts. Your technical know-how, persistence, and problem-solving abilities - rather than your ability to work the room at a cocktail party or rouse the crowds - will be measures of your success."
How can I prepare for this career? While most computer programmers have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related area, some employers could hire candidates with an associate's degree, says the Department of Labor.
If you're interested in the booming health care industry, but would rather work behind-the-scenes than deal with patients face-to-face, a career as a medical records and health information technician might be a good fit for you.
As a medical records and health information technician, you could review medical records to make sure they're complete and accurate. You may also work with special software to assign codes to each procedure or condition, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
How is it ideal for quiet people? "Don't take it for granted if you excel at wildly detail-oriented tasks while most of the world just seems to skim," Ancowitz says. "You can be indispensable to an organization by quietly paying attention to the difference a zero can make."
How can I prepare for this career? These professionals usually need a postsecondary certificate, although they may have an associate's degree, says the Department of Labor. The Department also notes that many employers might require professional certification, such as Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT).
Career #4 - Massage Therapist
Do you enjoy the quiet and relaxed atmosphere of a spa? Consider pursuing a career as a massage therapist, where you might be able to spend your working hours surrounded by that calming environment.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, you might talk with your clients to find out more about their symptoms, or where they carry tension, and then manipulate muscles to help them relax. You could also advise your clients on how to best stretch, relax, or even improve their posture.
How is it ideal for quiet people? "As a massage therapist, you might press as much flesh as a politician, but if you're a quieter soul, you'll be better suited to this calmer role," notes Ancowitz. "For one thing, you'll typically interact with one person at a time. Using your knowledge of human physiology combined with massage techniques, you'll get to support your clients' well-being and healing. Of course, you'll talk to your clients, too, but typically in a calm environment. Sure beats stumping at political rallies."
How can I prepare for this career? You could complete a postsecondary education program of at least 500 hours of study and experience, which is what massage therapists typically do, according to the Department of Labor. Check with your state to see if you'll need to have a license or certificate to practice massage therapy - requirements vary by state, says the Department.
Career #5 - Graphic Designer
If you're content spending many quiet hours working on your art, consider pursuing a career as a graphic designer.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as a graphic designer you might create visual concepts to get your client's message across to their target audience. Part of the role might also include developing logos, illustrations, or websites with designs created by hand or with computer programs.
How is it ideal for quiet people? "Are you a visual thinker who is more conversant in the world of shapes, patterns, and colors than in words? That can be an asset if you're aiming to be a graphic designer," Ancowitz says. "If you experience the world first and foremost through your eyes, you can make everything you touch a lot more aesthetically pleasing as a graphic designer."
How can I prepare for this career? Graphic designers usually need a bachelor's degree in graphic design or in a related area to get started, according to the Department of Labor. It's also a good idea to develop a professional portfolio to show potential clients your best work.
Career #6 - Court Reporter
Do you generally prefer to be a "fly on the wall" versus the center of attention? Are you good at concentrating in the face of distraction? Consider pursuing a career in court reporting.
As a court reporter, you might transcribe conversations, testimonies, or speeches using specialized equipment like covered microphones or stenography machines, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. And you could edit transcripts for typographical errors, provide copies of transcripts to courts or lawyers, and produce an accurate and complete legal record.
How is it ideal for quiet people? "Court reporting takes a rare blend of skills - including active listening, deep concentration, precision, computer and other machine operation ability, and facility with language - which are a natural match for certain quiet and shy people," Ancowitz says.
How can I prepare for this career? According to the Department of Labor, many technical institutes and community colleges provide postsecondary certificate programs for court reporters. Different programs may offer an associate's degree in court reporting. In many states, court reporters that work in legal settings will need to be certified or licensed by a professional association.
If you think one of these career paths could be the right fit, but don't know if you'll have the time to prepare for it, don't worry. According to University.com, a comprehensive research site for students interested in online degrees and courses, some online programs, such as court reporting and computer science, could prepare you to pursue a career that suits your reserved personality.
Chloe West also contributed to this article by updating the information on 8/4/2014
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