When many people think of their careers, they often associate what they do with achieving their specific, individual goals on top of earning a paycheck. While this approach to the daily grind may work for some people, it’s not always effective for highly sensitive people (HSP) or empaths.
People who don’t find joy or purpose in their work don’t often view their jobs as a satisfying part of their lives, and those individuals are more likely to switch careers due to their dissatisfaction.
Although HSPs and empaths are not the only people to struggle and stress about finding the ideal job, they are more likely to face different challenges than others, including overscheduling, anxiety, rushed deadlines, and difficult colleagues.
However, with an open mind and a willingness to assess levels of sensitivity, empaths and HSPs both can find a career that works well with their personalities and which provides them with a sense of meaning.
What’s the Difference Between HSPs and Empaths?
Highly sensitive people and empaths are not the same thing, and knowing which category you fall into and the characteristics associated with that personality type can help you find the best working environment.
HSPs experience a greater response to emotional, mental, and physical stimuli than the average person, often resulting in introversion; this trait is not abnormal, as roughly 15 to 20 percent of the population carries this highly sensitive gene.
HSPs can be wonderfully artistic, creative, and intuitive, which makes them ideal for positions helping people; however, the drawback is exhaustion and burnout, generally brought on by strong sensory input. This response can, at times, be overwhelming, causing an HSP to take on far more emotional responsibility than is healthy.
Empaths typically share the traits found in HSPs, although they can be both introverts or extroverts. They tend to be extra sensitive, allowing them to internalize the feelings and emotions of the people around them.
While this means that empaths can better understand the pain of others, it also means that they have difficulty distinguishing other people’s suffering from their own. Some empaths are capable of developing profound intuitive and spiritual experiences with other people, nature, and animals.
An individual can be both HSP and an empath, especially as so many aspects of these traits overlap, including a desire to help people, a love for quiet places and nature, and a deep, imaginative inner life.
The Best Career Fields for Empaths and HSPs
Due to these shared traits, HSPs and empaths need to find career fields and working conditions that emphasize the best of these attributes while minimizing the drawbacks associated with them. Here are some of the best career roles for empaths and HSPs.
Creative professional positions
With their tendency towards creativity and artistic endeavors, empaths and HSPs are ideal for jobs in the creative professions. Graphic design, illustration, animation, copywriting, music, acting, and set design are just a few examples of broad career fields that cater to sensitive people.
As a bonus, some of these jobs are done on a freelance basis or as a full-time career, meaning you can work alone and at home or engage in a group or teamwork situations. The flexibility and autonomy in the creative professions make this a promising field.
Doctors, nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, personal coaches, and veterinarians are just a few career options in the caring professions. These jobs often appeal to empaths and HSPs because these positions provide gratification and a sense of purpose.
Compassion, awareness of other people’s needs, and empathy are the top qualities necessary for success in these careers, and they are precisely the traits that sensitive people hold. Because of the propensity to overextend themselves, sensitive persons in these fields, such as counselors or therapists, need to always focus on an appropriate work-life balance.
Sometimes, HSPs and empaths are considered too sensitive to be promoted to top positions in a company — however, sensitive people can build their own successful companies based on their sensitivities. Companies owned by empaths and HSPs are often calm and welcoming, creatively designed, and staffed by people who are dedicated to the company’s mission, which includes helping customers and making a difference in people’s lives.
Some companies can even be created and operated from your home. Combine a sensitive person’s business vision with modern technology that makes business growth possible, and you will have a business that succeeds because of sensitivity.
Strong intuition, detail, and focus are the skills needed by IT professionals, especially for coding and other software and hardware needs. Software engineers and website developers are jobs that work well, especially for introverts.
HSPs and empaths tend to enjoy workplaces in this field as they are typically more relaxed or offer remote work opportunities. IT fields offer both work-from-home and group work opportunities.
Non-profit professional positions can be profoundly gratifying careers. Creating communal good and putting it into action are job characteristics that most HSPs and empaths will gravitate toward quickly. Be sure to find a position with a non-profit that has a healthy, cooperative culture.
Roles in administration, marketing, membership, fundraising, and writing and advertising are some of the best non-profit professional jobs for sensitive people.
Empaths and HSPs are often attuned to nature and take comfort in their natural surroundings. As such, careers in the environment are often ideal for sensitive, environmentally-oriented individuals. Parks and recreation positions, forest rangers, landscape designers, and environmental protection agents combine the best qualities of sensitive people with their love and desire to protect the environment.
Whatever field you choose to enter, make sure you balance your qualities as an empath or HSP with your job. Avoid disorganized companies that include multiple stressors and high sensory stimulation. Use your intuition to be sure you fit with the company’s mission, goals, space, and colleagues. Your talents as an HSP or empath can guide you to a position that makes your career worthwhile every day.