What 85,000 people taught us about personalities and job choice
A passion for cleaning teeth might not be the main draw into dentistry, according to the results of TIME’s quiz What Job Best Matches Your Personality? In fact, many high-paying jobs attract people whose personalities are less-than-ideal matches for their profession.
The researchers who helped develop the original survey analyzed over 85,000 responses in which readers entered their occupation and took a simple test to see how well their personality matched that profession—known informally as “job fitness.” By comparing that data with the average salary of each profession, they found that some people may choose jobs ill-suited for their personality if the price is right.
Take air traffic controllers, who make nearly $123,000 on average but have a worse personality fit than 93% of the 240 jobs for which the data provided a sufficient sample size among U.S.-based respondents. Or dentists, with a worse fit than 79% of jobs, despite their $152,00 paycheck. Of the 30 occupations with salaries averaging over $100,000, 13 had worse fits than at least half of all jobs.
All told, there was a relatively small correlation between job fitness and salary, meaning people who made more were slightly more likely to have personalities that are deemed good fits for their profession. Meanwhile, there were plenty of low-paying jobs with strong job fits and many high-paying jobs with low fits.
“Results might imply that dentists are in it for the prestige or money,” says researcher Alexander Gloss from North Carolina State University, one of the researchers who helped design the survey and analyzed the results.
While many people aren’t well suited for the six-figure jobs above, other high-paying professions had better results. Surgeons make $187,000 on average, and had a job fitness higher than 84% of other jobs.
But the jobs with the highest personality matches pay far less, like video editors and urban planners, which were in the upper 2% of best fitting occupations with salaries averaging around $65,000. Most poorly fit jobs paid far less than six figures. The eight worst-fitting jobs, including medical aides and data entry keyers, all paid less than $40,000 a year on average.
Search for any of the 240 occupations in the graph below, or take the original quiz to see which job best matches your personality.
TIME partnered with a team of researchers associated with the FWD Institute to analyze the anonymized results of the original survey. Each of the 20 questions in the quiz is associated with one of the six personality types, resulting in an aggregate score that is compared to the RIASEC profiles for all occupations in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network. The distance between the personality of the respondent and the occupation determines job fit. Responses from people who said they were working and 18 years or older were aggregated by occupation. Occupations with at least 30 responses were combined with salary data from Occupational Information Network for the analysis.