Are engineers introverts? Many are, but the media often paints an unfair picture of engineers. Surprise – some engineers are extroverts too!
Growing up, I was bombarded with a certain image of engineers in movies. They seemed to always be cooped up in a secluded office, pushed around by business folks without a care in the world.
Fast forward to my years as an engineer, and I can see where this stereotype comes from. There’s a grain of truth to it.
Let’s separate fact from fiction by tackling 5 questions.
1) Why are introverts drawn to engineering?
First, let’s define an introvert.
An introvert is someone who’s quiet, reserved, and perhaps a bit shy. This doesn’t mean they have a social phobia, but rather they enjoy their own company. They’re content spending hours alone in an empty room.
In contrast, an extrovert thrives in social settings.
We all possess a mix of introverted and extroverted traits. However, when it comes to the nitty-gritty of engineering, introverts often shine. The field demands deep thinking to tackle complex problems, which naturally requires some alone time.
Social butterflies, on the other hand, tend to gravitate towards people-oriented fields like sales, marketing, and business.
Many introverted engineers prioritize their work over social interactions. This laser-focus is what makes them excel at their jobs, considering chit-chat and schmoozing as mere distractions.
The media’s portrayal of engineers
At the start of this article, I mentioned how the media depicts engineers. While there’s some truth to it, it’s also a gross overgeneralization.
As an example, I played sports and even dabbled in competitive bodybuilding growing up. In college, my buddies and I painted the town red many weekends.
The bottom line? Engineers come in all flavors. But overall, the engineering profession does attract introverts due to the nature of the work.
2) Do all engineering fields attract introverts equally?
Nope! In fact, some engineering fields are more appealing to extroverts.
Take my field of power engineering, for example. I spend a significant amount of time socializing alongside design work. I’d even say power engineering has more extroverts than introverts.
Some of my social activities include:
- Taking calls and answering emails throughout the day
- Presenting to the public, government officials, and private sector
- Interviewing for new projects
- Speaking to other engineers, plant operators, and contractors
Compare that to a semiconductor-related job, where you might barely interact with another person all day. It’s just you, your lab, and your headphones, cranking out work.
So, your level of social interaction greatly depends on your position.
3) If you’re an introverted engineer, do you always stay introverted?
It varies. Many introverts naturally gravitate towards engineering because it fits their personality. They’ll likely remain introverted unless one of the following happens:
- An outside force pushes them into a different position (e.g., promotion)
- Financial reasons lead to a job switch better suited for extroverts (e.g., managerial work)
- They seek a new challenge
I’m not saying your personality will flip from one extreme to another. However, you can nudge yourself in a particular direction if needed.
Take Elon Musk, for instance. He didn’t start as a global icon who speaks to massive crowds non-stop. His ambitious goals transformed him over time through baby steps.
If you’re content being an introverted engineer, that’s absolutely fine. Just remember that you might not reach your full potential in the field.
4) Do you need to be a social butterfly to excel as an engineer?
Technical roles are a perfect match for those who prefer a more introverted lifestyle. There’s an engineering position out there for every personality type.
However, it’s worth mentioning that in nearly all engineering roles, you’ll collaborate with others to some extent. Engineering teams are a staple in most companies, and they’re made up of diverse personalities – and there’s a good reason for that.
Imagine if an entire team was comprised of introverts – there’d be no designated leader. Some engineers aspire to be trailblazers and take the lead, while others prefer to follow instructions.
So, don’t feel pressured to change who you are. Although you might not reach your full potential as an introvert, you can still have a thriving career.
5) How can being more extroverted help you make the most of your engineering career?
To truly make the most of your engineering career, it’s essential to find your voice.
Now, when I say “make the most,” I mean working on cutting-edge projects with fantastic pay, whether that’s for an employer or as a business owner. Your idea of “making the most” might be clocking out at 5 PM and collecting a steady paycheck.
By my definition, your personality should enable you to:
- Take charge
- Confidently dismiss others’ ideas when necessary
- Connect with management and clients to foster relationships
- Network beyond your immediate colleagues
- Tackle challenges head-on
- Become an excellent presenter
Let me illustrate this with an example.
When an introverted engineer encounters a problem, they may struggle to find a solution because they’re hesitant to approach others for help. This can cause delays in completing tasks and projects.
On the other hand, an extroverted engineer will promptly seek assistance, swiftly resolve the issue, and move on to the next task. This proactive attitude is crucial for success, promotions, and even starting a business.
I wholeheartedly believe that a mix of technical and social skills is incredibly powerful, particularly in today’s globalized, specialized work environment.
How to level up as an introverted engineer
To level up, you’ll need top-notch communication skills and unshakable confidence. Speaking up shouldn’t scare you.
For instance, if a team of engineers proposes an unsafe idea, you should feel empowered to correct them. They might be the loudest voices in the room, but that shouldn’t intimidate you.
I understand this can be challenging for introverts, but it takes practice. Start with a solid technical foundation, as your expertise will underpin all your discussions. Then, step out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons.
For more tips on embracing your extroverted side, check out these articles I’ve written:
- 12 Ways to Improve Public Speaking Skills for Engineers
- 9 Engineer Habits All Successful Engineers Have
- 15 Tips for Young Engineers on How to Level Up
“Are engineers introverts” wrap up
In my experience, many engineers tend to be introverted. Introverted personalities often mesh well with technical engineering roles.
Regardless of your personality type, there’s a suitable engineering position waiting for you. To truly excel in your career, though, it’s essential to embrace social interactions.
You might even discover that you enjoy work involving more social interactions. I believe that blending social and technical skills creates a lethal skillset!
Do you think most engineers are introverts? Is engineering an ideal career for introverts?
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Author Bio: Koosha started Engineer Calcs in 2019 to help people better understand the engineering and construction industry, and to discuss various science and engineering-related topics to make people think. He has been working in the engineering and tech industry in California for well over 15 years now and is a licensed professional electrical engineer, and also has various entrepreneurial pursuits.
Koosha has an extensive background in the design and specification of electrical systems with areas of expertise including power generation, transmission, distribution, instrumentation and controls, and water distribution and pumping as well as alternative energy (wind, solar, geothermal, and storage).
Koosha is most interested in engineering innovations, the cosmos, sports, fitness, and our history and future.