Are engineers introverts? Most are, but engineering is a very broad field. Some engineers are introverts and others are extroverts.
I don’t find this to be too surprising though. In fact, growing up this was the image the media bombarded me with.
In movies, engineers kept to themselves in a secluded office. All the while, business people ordered them around and they rarely spoke up.
Now that I’ve been working as an engineer for many years, I can see where this stereotypical label comes from. There’s some truth to it.
So let’s dive deeper into this question of, “are engineers introverts?” To do this, we’ll answer 5 supporting questions.
1) Why does engineering attract introverts?
To get the ball rolling, let’s first define an introvert.
An introvert is someone who’s quiet, reserved, and quite possibly shy. This doesn’t mean you have a social phobia and you want to keep away from everyone.
Rather, you get energy from being alone. While an extrovert becomes more energized in social settings.
So, you’re okay staying in a room alone for hours on end without contact with the outside world.
Keep in mind though, we’re all a behavioral blend of introverted and extroverted
Now, here’s the kicker. Introverts fit perfectly with the technical side of engineering.
How? Engineering requires a lot of deep thinking to solve challenging problems. By default, this means you won’t flex your social skills too much.
Instead, you’ll have your head down working to solve problems. Then time to time, you’ll do independent research to aid your problem-solving.
In short, most of the time you’re working by yourself.
Whereas, someone who’s very social, will a lot of the time gravitate to people-oriented fields. Such as doing sales, marketing, or simply working on the business side of things.
And guess what?
Many introverted engineers prefer their work over people interactions. And this is what makes many of these engineers amazing at their work.
They’re laser-focused only on their work. They can do without the chit chat and schmoozing.
The stereotypical engineer portrayed by the media
At the beginning of this article, I touched on how the media portrays engineers. To some extent it’s true.
But, what many don’t realize is that many engineers don’t fit this description.
For one, I played many sports. I even was a competitive bodybuilder.
Also, back in college, my engineering buddies and I would go out almost every weekend.
My point is, engineers, don’t fit in a one size fits all mold. You can find engineers with all types of personalities.
2) Do all engineering fields equally attract introverts?
No. In fact, some fields of engineering attract more extroverts.
For example, in power engineering where I’ve worked many years, I do a lot of socializing.
Yes, the level of social interactions highly depends on your exact position. But overall, I find power engineering to be more of a field for extroverts versus introverts.
Here are some of the social things I do in my work:
- Taking calls and answering emails throughout everyday
- Presenting to the public, government officials, and private sector
- Interviewing for new projects
- Speaking to other engineers and plant operators
- Discussing my designs with others
Now, compare this to some semiconductor type jobs. You may barely speak with another person, the entire working day.
Because you’re cooped up in your office or lab with your headphones on working happily alone.
3) If you’re an introverted engineer, do you always remain introverted?
It depends. Many introverts gravitate towards engineering because it fits their personality.
So, they’ll stay introverts until one of the following happens:
- An outside force pushes them into a different position (e.g. promotion)
- Due to financial reasons, they take a job more suited for extroverts
- They personally want to branch out into positions more suitable for extroverts
Now, I’m not saying your personality will slide from one extreme to another. But, you can nudge yourself in a certain direction, when push comes to shove.
Look at Elon Musk. He wasn’t always this global icon, who speaks to huge crowds around the clock. His ambitious goals molded him into who he is today.
But if you’re happy in your role, there’s nothing wrong with that either.
Just realize the implications of completely shutting yourself out to others. You may never reach your full potential as an engineer.
4) Do you need to be really outgoing to be a great engineer?
Of course not!
Pure technical positions cater perfectly to personality types that aren’t very outgoing. As I’ve alluded to before, there’s an engineering position for all personality types.
Keep in mind, in many engineering positions, you’ll work with others in some capacity.
This is best showcased in engineering teams. Great engineering teams include many different personality types.
What’s more, if everyone in a team was an extrovert, the team wouldn’t thrive. This is why no matter your personality type, you can easily fit in with your peers. Peers who are both introverts and extroverts.
My point is, don’t feel you need to recreate yourself to be someone you’re not.
Being around many engineers, I’ve seen many different personality types. Some engineers naturally speak up more for one reason or another.
While the more reserved introverted engineers speak up only when they’re asked.
Both personality types can coexist in engineering.
5) Why becoming more extroverted will help you maximize your engineering career?
Now, let’s switch lanes and shine a different light on introverts.
To maximize your engineering career, you DO need to be able to speak up.
It’s important to note, my definition of “maximize” is working on cool projects with awesome pay. This can be for an employer or starting your own business.
Typically, these positions I’m referencing involve a heavy amount of social interactions. But again, your definition of “maximize” may mean collecting a paycheck and going home at 5 PM every day.
Per my definition though, to pull this off, you need to be able to do the following:
- Become a leader
- Confidently shoot down ideas from others
- Schmooze with management and clients and build relationships
- Network beyond your circle of colleagues
- Face the heart of the storm when problems come up
- Become an awesome presenter
What’s more, a lot of engineering has become specialized work these days. So, at some point, you need to collaborate with people in some capacity.
Let’s go over some examples.
When an introverted engineer runs into a problem, they may have a more difficult time solving it. Because of the difficulties of going and speaking and collaborating with others.
They may close themselves off in their office working all day. Thus, not speaking with anyone beyond their specified role.
But a great engineer would step outside of their scope of work. They’ll spot problems and develop solutions.
Thereafter present their findings to their team in close detail. This includes teaching others about their findings. They want everyone to be on the same page with the design direction.
This is why I believe technical and social skills together are so powerful. Especially these days with globalization, and the proliferation of specialization work.
How to level up as an introverted engineer
To level yourself up, you need great communication skills. At the same time, you need confidence, no matter who you speak with.
This means speaking without your voice cracking and not looking at your shoes. In other words, people are aware of your presence. I know some meetings, if you remove one of the quiet people, no one will know the difference.
Now, I’m not saying to become aggressive. But, you can’t be afraid to speak up.
For example, correcting a team of engineers who present an unsafe engineering idea. These engineers may be the loudest in the room, but that shouldn’t cause you to back down.
I know this is harder for introverts but do it enough and you’ll strengthen your social skills.
Because for sure you’ll feel uneasy at first. But nothing great comes without stepping outside of your comfort zone.
“Are engineers introverts” wrap up
From my experience, I find most engineers to be introverts. Introverts and pure technical engineering positions go hand in hand.
What’s more, no matter your personality type, you can find an engineering position for you.
But, if you want to maximize your career, you need to embrace social interactions. Just like you sharpen your technical skills, you need to improve your social skills.
You may even find you prefer to do work that includes greater social interactions. I find the combination of social and technical skills to be lethal in engineering!
Do you find most engineers to be introverts? Do you think engineering is a great career for introverts?
SUBSCRIBE TO ENGINEER CALCS NEWSLETTER
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 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, our history and future, sports, and fitness.