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Enneagram Types
Enneagram Type 5, the Investigator: Best and Worst Careers
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AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger
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Curious about what types of careers are best for you, based on your Enneagram test results? If you're a Type 5, these are the best Enneagram type 5 careers (and the worst!).

What is an Enneagram personality type?

First things first, Enneagram tests are similar to the classic Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test. Essentially, an Enneagram helps you find the specific traits that make up your personality type. 

According to the Enneagram Institute, there are nine Enneagram types and “it is common to find a little of yourself in all nine of the types, although one of them should stand out as being closest to yourself." The one that stands out is "your basic personality type.” 

The nine Enneagram types include the following:

  1. The Reformer — the rational and idealistic type
  2. The Helper — the caring and interpersonal type
  3. The Achiever (sometimes referred to as the Motivator) — the success-oriented and pragmatic type
  4. The Individualist (sometimes referred to as the Artist) — the sensitive and withdrawn type
  5. The Investigator (sometimes referred to as the Thinker) — the intense and cerebral type
  6. The Loyalist (sometimes referred to as the Skeptic) — the committed and security-oriented type
  7. The Enthusiast (sometimes referred to as the Generalist) — the extroverted and spontaneous type
  8. The Challenger (sometimes referred to as the Leader) — the powerful and dominating type
  9. The Peacemaker — the easygoing and self-effacing type

That said, you can also have a wing type. "Usually one has characteristics of one of the types that lie adjacent to one's own that are more prominent — this is called the wing," according to Electric Energies. "So someone who is a type 5, might have a 4 wing or a 6 wing. This may be abbreviated to '5w4' and '5w6.' If one doesn't have a dominant wing, it is said that the wings are balanced."

What is the Enneagram type 5 personality?

Type 5, the investigator, is " alert, insightful and curious," according to the Enneagram Institute. "They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism and isolation. At their Best: visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way."

Here’s what you should know about an Enneagram type 5 personality in a nutshell:

  • Their basic fears include being useless, helpless or incapable.
  • Their basic desires include being capable and competent.
  • Their key motivations are to possess knowledge, understand the environment and have everything figured out as a way of defending themselves from the environment.

Some classic examples of type 5 personalities include Buddha, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates.

“Fives spend a lot of time observing and contemplating — listening to the sounds of wind or of a synthesize, or taking notes on the activities in an anthill in their back yard,” according to the Enneagram Institute. “As they immerse themselves in their observations, they begin to internalize their knowledge and gain a feeling of self-confidence.”

What are the characteristics of a type 5?

Here are some characteristics of a type 5 personality.

1. Alert

Type 5 personalities are highly alert people. They're able to focus and concentrate well, even when they're faced with complex ideas.

2. Insightful

Because type 5 personalities are so innovative and inventive, they're full of insight. They spend a lot of time looking inward, contemplating different thoughts and constructs in their minds, and have a lot to share because of that.

3. Curious

Type 5 personalities are curious people. They're imaginative visionaries who see the world ahead of them and want to help create it.

What are the best careers for type 5 personalities?

There are tons of jobs in which the investigator type would excel. But here are seven to get you started.

1. Police Officers/Detectives

Because Type 5 personalities are the investigative type who hugely value knowledge and insight, they make great, committed police officers who are dedicated to their work. Likewise, for the same reason, they make equally reliable detectives.

2. Construction Workers/Building Inspectors

Type 5 personalities can use their strong investigative skills to make sure that urban plans are working well and meet requirements. Because they're also so imaginative and creative, building and working with architectural plans is an exciting path for them.

3. Market Research Analysts

Type 5 personalities are considered visionary pioneers who can see the world in whole new ways — and, of course, that's helpful for someone evaluating the market. They're able to explore market trends and make predictions exceptionally well. After all, type 5 personalities are identified for “having ideas” and being people who have something unusual to say — perhaps about the future of the market.

4. Medical Scientists

Medical science is intense and nuanced and dynamic and complex and ever-changing, which is why someone with a type 5 personality would be a great medical scientist. They are lured to careers that engage in this many ways and allow them to impact the world. They’re also lured to fields like medical science since sciences like this one are always coming up with the “unthinkable,” and this allows type 5 personality types to investigate unknown territory. Also, having this kind of area of expertise allows them to feel the confidence in themselves and their capabilities that they sometimes lack — especially knowing that their knowledge in this field is needed for the greater good.

5. Industrial Engineers

Type 5 personalities work well as industrial engineers who work in collaborative teams and can share complex ideas. They're adept at focusing hard and concentrating on their work and, because they're so curious, engineering satiates their appetite for tangible results. Likewise, engineering is always full of challenges, which keeps type 5 personalities on their toes — they’re always trying to master something that’s caught their interest.

6. Political Scientists

Again, because type 5 personalities work well with complex ideas, political science is an interesting career path for them. They're curious people, and politics always give them something to unpack.

7. Judges

Type 5 personalities are known as investigators who can get to the bottom of a problem. For that reason alone, they make committed judges. Beyond that, however, type 5 personalities are skilled at understanding others since they spend so much time looking inward themselves. They’re able to more clearly see people’s motives and understand their stories, as well as pull the truth out of others — all of which makes a great judge.

What are the worst careers for type 5 personalities?

Some career paths are better than others for different types of people. Here are three careers type 5 personalities may want to avoid.

1. UX/UI Designers

Type 5 personalities don't do so well in isolation. And, while a UX/UI design job is certainly a creative and imaginative one that could be great for a type 5 personality in many ways, they often work alone. A type 5 UX/UI designer who works on an active team of people, however, might enjoy it far more.

2. Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants, too, often work in isolation, away from their clients. And because type 5 personalities can risk becoming easily detached, it's best that they work in closer quarters with others. And, because they often rely on the validation of others to make them more confident in themselves, it’s best that they surround themselves with a team rather than succumb to self-defeating thoughts that may arise more when they’re alone.

3. Small Business Owners

While running one's one business does promise room for creativity, problem-solving and exploring ideas, this is a risky undertaking for someone who, again, may struggle with detachment.

It’s also a risky undertaking for someone who often struggles with self-doubt. In order to start a successful business, you have to be confident in your plan — otherwise, no one else will be either. For better or worse, type 5 personalities don't totally depend on social validation; rather, if others agree with their ideas too readily, they may fear that their ideas are too conventional, according to the Enneagram Institute. This kind of doubt doesn't do well in the business world.

Type 5 personalities have a wealth of opportunities thanks to their nature. Of course, there's always room for improvement. In order to truly excel in their careers, type 5 personalities can improve in the following areas:

  • Since they live so intensely, type 5 personalities can work on coping with everyday stresses in healthier ways — ways that don't depend on others for affirmation, either.
  • Because they can easily reject social interaction, type 5 personalities can work on avoiding becoming reclusive and isolated from reality.
  • Type 5 personalities tend to become obsessive over their ideas, but they can learn to balance this better.

If you're a type 5 personality and make sure to work on those areas of improvement, there's no doubt you can succeed in one of the aforementioned careers.

Help me find a job.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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