No one person is the same. We all have different personality types, interests and temperaments that make us assets to the professional world. If we were all emotionless robots performing the same tasks, there’d be no room for passion, creativity or human connection ― all crucial factors in business. Empaths, for example, feel what others are feeling, absorbing their energy and feeding off their mood. While it can be exhausting to connect with so many individuals on a highly emotional level, it can benefit your career if you choose the right job.
An empath is a person who is more perceptive than most to the emotions of others. While some people have a difficult time figuring out what those around them are feeling, empaths often know immediately how others feel. This isn’t a superpower. Empathy may seem like a kind of ESP, but it’s just another way our diverse human minds work. Some empaths frequently find themselves overloaded by the emotions of others, but other empaths have found ways to separate their emotions from the ones they sense, making their empathy an asset to working with large groups rather than an obstacle.
Some types of empaths thrive in fast-paced environments where they will meet lots of new people. Others do better in jobs that allow them to interact with people one-on-one and develop stronger personal bonds. There is no one perfect career for empaths because no two people are the same. The thing to keep in mind when searching for the right job is how your empathy makes you feel.
The following careers are each beneficial to different empath types. So, as you’re trying out careers, remember that not all jobs for empaths are the same. Listen to your own emotions as well as those of others, and you’ll be sure to find a fulfilling job that’s right for you.
No two empaths are alike. What one person finds draining, another may find fulfilling. Consider your own individual personality beyond your highly empathetic traits when considering the type of career you’d be most happy and successful in.
Empaths are natural caregivers, wanting to help those who are unwell. However, healthcare can be a high-stress field where emotions of professionals, patients and their families can run high. For some empaths, this may be draining, while others may find the opportunity to save lives and heal the wounded rewarding. Consider the following when pursuing a career in medicine as an empathetic person.
Becoming a doctor is an excellent career choice for some empaths. A highly tuned sense of empathy allows doctors to meet their patients’ needs more fully than they might if they weren’t perceptive of their patients’ emotions. Highly sensitive people may have trouble in medical school, however. Many med school programs are fast-paced and cutthroat, making medical education a major hurdle for many empaths wishing to become doctors.
As a nurse, you must have that instinct to help patients feel more relaxed and confident in the care they’re receiving. Understanding a patient’s emotional well-being can help nurses manage their care, but just like medical school, some nursing programs and hospitals are fast-paced and stressful. If you can make it through nursing school as an empath, try to choose a quieter place of work, such as a doctor’s office or a nursing home, if you would like a quieter job and more time with patients.
Like doctors and nurses, psychologists help those experiencing health issues. Mental illnesses are as real and debilitating as physical ones, requiring proper attention and treatment. Empaths can understand the depth of emotional suffering and are great at listening and offering advice.
Therapists can work in private practices, clinics, hospitals, rehab facilities and mental health centers. If you get overloaded easily, working in a private practice as a therapist is one of the best careers for empaths like you.
Becoming a life coach is a similar option. Empaths have people’s best interests at heart, which is why being a life coach is the perfect opportunity for them. Life coaches meet with individuals or small groups to guide them through their lifestyle choices, help them reach their goals and offer encouragement. You can practice privately or for a company.
Social work is a comprehensive industry with many opportunities to focus on the well-being of both the individual and society. Social workers need a tough skin and the ability to stay calm and focused in emotionally charged situations.
While this career might be difficult for empaths who are overwhelmed easily by conflicting feelings and perspectives, they can better understand what the person needs and the best and least painful way to give that to them. Empaths can also comfort those involved, offering reassurance and support throughout their clients’ journeys.
Jobs that allow you to make your own schedule and choose the number of people you want to interact with are the best for the most sensitive empaths.
If you have a way with words, consider channeling your feelings through writing. Empaths experience unfamiliar and often powerful emotions, which can make them more creative than most. As an empath, you shouldn’t feel ashamed of your ideas; let them empower you to tell a story and reach others. You can freelance, work for a magazine, start a blog or become an author.
Artists also see things in unusual ways. Using their unique perspectives and emotions, they create beautiful artwork. Empaths make great artists because they have minds bursting with passion and conflict, which act as inspiration for pieces of art. Whether you freelance, sell your own work or channel your art through other career paths, the content you create can be influential.
Much like writers and artists, musicians are emotional people. As an empath with a knack for music, you can create valuable songs about various subjects, people and circumstances. The more emotion a song has, the more relatable it becomes, offering a common ground for listeners.
Music is a great way to connect with an audience. Even if you just perform at local clubs or cafes, you can build a following and reach more people as your popularity grows.
Psychological research has detected a link between empathy and creativity, suggesting that the more empathetic an individual is, the more likely they are to pursue creative expression. If you find you’re highly empathetic, a creative career may suit you well.
Just like there is no one perfect job for empaths, there isn’t one job that’s bad for all empaths. There are, however, many jobs that involve a surprising amount of emotional strain, even for people who aren’t highly sensitive to others’ emotions.
Being a veterinarian, for example, is emotionally taxing. While it may seem like you’d be healing and comforting sick pets and soothing their worried owners, the reality of life as a veterinarian is far from that. Imagine a job where half of the people you see every day are having the worst day of their life. Their beloved companion is sick. Their dog has to be put down. In veterinary clinics, emotions can run high. Before you go into that business, ask yourself if that’s something you can handle.
Teaching is another job that can spell disaster for empaths. Most people think that teaching is all coloring and encouragement, but just like with veterinary medicine, the reality is far from what most people think. Teachers have to handle the emotions of 20 to 150 young people per day. That’s exhausting even for people who aren’t empaths. If you react to others’ emotions, try to choose a less stressful career than this occupation.
If you still want to work with kids, instead of becoming a teacher, consider a career as a librarian or a guidance counselor at a school or university. As a guidance counselor, you can change a child’s or young adult’s life by mentoring them. Every student needs someone to assist them in their endeavors, ensuring they’re meeting deadlines, staying on track with their education and pursuing opportunities they will truly love. Empaths understand the wants and needs of others, which helps them lead students down the right path.
You can also get an office job that allows you to help people. Nonprofits are entities dedicated to specific social causes, such as the American Red Cross and Make-A-Wish Foundation. Nonprofits need workers who aren’t in it for the money but for the emotional fulfillment of knowing they are making a difference through their everyday work. This type of mindset and compassion is what fuels these organizations and it’s often found in empathetic individuals who want to help others in any capacity.
While some emotionally-charged roles may be overwhelming to one highly empathetic person, another may thrive in that position despite the moments of stress. It’s important to know yourself as an individual first. For example, will the moments in which you can save a life as a doctor or nurse outweigh the challenges of seeing people sick, dying and in despair? For some, the answer may be yes while others would prefer a calm, quiet job like a librarian. While it may be easy to paint “empaths” with a broad brush, no two people are alike ― so choose a career you think will be fulfilling to you and consider how your highly empathetic personality may fit into that role for better or worse.
Jacob Bierer-Nielsen and Sammi Caramela also contributed to this article.