Accounting Isn’t Just for Introverts

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The accounting profession is often associated with number crunching and a good deal of deskwork. Many people, therefore, assume that the profession is best suited for introverts. The reality, however, is that about half of accountants are extroverts, according to the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, clearly indicating  that accounting is a multifaceted occupation that attracts many different personality types.

The Character of an Accountant

There is no single character type that’s consistent for every accountant. However, there are certain characteristics that are more common, including, “the tendencies of being organized, practical, logical and reliable.” In addition, there are other characteristics that seem to be indicators of higher job success among accountants – including being extroverted.

The Personality of an Accountant

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator identifies one of two preferences in four different dichotomies, expressing personalities as one of 16 possible four-letter types:

  • Favorite World: Extroversion (E) or Introversion (I)
  • Information: Sensing (S) or Intuition (I)
  • Decisions: Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
  • Structure: Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

According to the Accounting Educators’ Journal, 42% of accountants surveyed fit into one of two Myers Briggs personality types: 25% were ESTJ (extroverted, sensing, thinking, and judging) and 17% were ISTJ (introverted, sensing, thinking, and judging). What this says is that other personality traits, namely sensing, thinking, and judging, were more common and, therefore, more useful than being extroverted or introverted. These personality types tend to be more practical, pragmatic, and work more logically and methodically – “they rely on facts rather than intuition and on thoughts rather than feelings.”

While these traits may be better predictors of success as an accountant, extroverted accountants report higher rates of job satisfaction than introverts. This may be due to extroverts being more comfortable meeting with clients, delivering presentations, or ascending into leadership roles.

The Difference Between Introverts and Extroverts

The idea that introverts and extroverts differ in how outwardly social, shy, or sensitive they are, is largely a myth. The primary difference is where they draw their energy.  Where introverts look inward for their energy and can feel drained from too much interaction with other people, extroverts look outward to social pursuits and are energized by interaction with others. Therefore, extroverts are well-suited to many of the things that make a successful accountant. They relate well with their clients, are effective in meetings, deliver presentations more confidently, and can be more engaging leaders.

The conclusions that the Accounting Educators’ Journal drew in their study, “Personality: What it Takes to be an Accountant,” support this idea. The dominant personality type among accounting students (and business students as a whole) is ESTJ (extroverted, sensing, thinking and judging), and the ISTJ (introverted, sensing, thinking and judging) personality corresponds with better performance in accounting classes.  Both personality types, therefore, are well suited to accounting pursuits and business as a whole. This may be surprising considering the prevailing stereotype of the quiet accountant, but the evidence does not bear this stereotype out. On the contrary, accountants who are disposed to extroversion tend to perform very well in their careers. You can take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test here.

Whatever your personality type, accounting is both a challenging and rewarding career. Learn more about how you can master the knowledge and skills to complement your personality type through New England College’s online Master of Science in Accounting degree program.