What career would be best suited for me?
November 22, 2014 3:21 PM   Subscribe

Now that I have worked full-time for a year I have discovered what I really want in a career – limited to no human contact.

What I hate most about where I work is having to interact with people; indeed, I loathe being around people. Each day at work I feel completely overwhelmed by the social interactions I experience: the snide and sarcastic comments, the office politics, the false pleasantries, the arrogance and narcissism, and how everyone is only concerned with themselves.

Ideally I would like to be able to walk into my office or workspace, close the door, and be left alone for the next 8 hours, with limited to no human interaction. In a couple of years I would like to return to school and study subjects related to geographic information systems, geomatics, and cartography, because I like maps, geography, and computers, however I do not know what level of social interaction is required in those fields. What is most important to me at this point is limiting social interaction.

What kind of careers are there that don't require much social interaction?

If it helps I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.
posted by 8LeggedFriend to Work & Money (29 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Some sort of computer programmer who works with code.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:26 PM on November 22, 2014

I feel your ... tiredness with people. I went self-employed 13+ years ago because I was done, totally done, with spending most of my waking hours trapped in the same room as people who spoke garbage.

1) List the things that interest you. Make this a very long list; spend time on it.

2) Cross off the things that - and be honest - you are not good at.

3) Cross off the things you cannot realistically make a living from.

From the remainder, give one of those a go. If a client is annoying, as annoying as a previous work colleague, don't have them as a repeat client. Otherwise, try and stick with them through the years.

Me; I'm an independent researcher. I synthesize academic research in specific areas for non-academic audiences. Potential new clients are told up-front that we do most, if not all, interaction online. Email. Skype (preferably voice only, and in small timeslots so we have to stay focused). Any person who insists on regular face-to-face meetings does not become a client. My business. My rules.
posted by Wordshore at 3:37 PM on November 22, 2014 [21 favorites]

I visited a publishing company specialising in making maps a few years ago. I learned that making maps was a hugely collaborative thing. They all sat in a big open-air office and worked on making those maps together because they all specialised in one little niche aspect and had to draw upon everybody's expertise to get anything produced.

So, anecdata: working for a company that makes maps means having to collaborate in a big office. On the other hand, chances are that these people collaborating are probably much more on the same wavelength than random people in a random workplace. Just a hunch.
posted by kariebookish at 3:37 PM on November 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Some sort of computer programmer who works with code.

I'm going to point out that this is less and less the case. The default now is towards open-office floor plans with multiple people talking all at once and a focus on frequent checkpoint meetings and collaborations. This is becoming the norm with other arrangements being the exception.
posted by deanc at 3:53 PM on November 22, 2014 [28 favorites]

Doing a job remotely can cut down on your human contact. When I was a remote programmer I sent a weekly update email to my boss and we had a phone call about once a month. A few times a month I had to sit in on conference calls, but never had to talk.
posted by hermanubis at 3:54 PM on November 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

Night shift security guard.
posted by phoenix_rising at 3:58 PM on November 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Here's a list of jobs for people that hate (being around) people.

However, I don't agree w most of the entries and nearly every job is collaborative (or client sales) at some point. As for 'Artist', that shouldn't be on anybody's loner list...the art business is people business.

How about:
Housepainter who works for an employer (does not do sales).
posted by artdrectr at 3:59 PM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Something with a night shift. That's what I do now, and I count myself lucky that I'll be leaving in a few months, because the lack of human interaction and the feeling of being perpetually out of sync with the world's schedule are driving me bonkers. (Do think about that latter part; you won't have to interact with many coworkers or customers/clients on a night shift, but you'll also have trouble scheduling time to see friends and family who work more standard schedules.)

My specific job (CNA) has more human interaction than you want, but overnight security, warehouse, or stockroom jobs sound like good fits.
posted by ActionPopulated at 4:10 PM on November 22, 2014

Lab tech for a decent sized hospital or commercial lab. They work almost exclusively with machines and samples with occasional staff meetings.
posted by fiercekitten at 4:15 PM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I work as a producer with editors on reality TV shows. Most days, I'll pop in for a few minutes a day to make sure things are moving along. There is a larger screening maybe once a week or so. It's generally accepted that editors are a little antisocial and reclusive.

Assistant editors often work at night with even less contact.

So maybe video editing in TV, advertising, or the like?
posted by justjess at 4:34 PM on November 22, 2014

I do QA and compliance for a bank's underwriting department. I work from home and only go into an office about every other month for a department meeting, have a conference call or two at most every week (which I find to be less draining than dealing with people in a face-to-face meeting), and I have a couple of regular deliverable in the form of a QA review. I have interact with some people via an instant messaging program that is part of our e-mail system. I have plenty of days where I only interact with the dog and my SO.

Not that I'm saying you should QA work at a bank. I think it's the working from home and with the result of your work being some kind of deliverable...something that stands on it's own (IE: Doesn't result in you having to give a presentation or something) is the trick.

I just don't know how you'd look for the kind of job. You could maybe identify companies that are known for putting importance on work/life balance. I think asking about what sort of stuff your work would produce would be a totally normal sounding question to ask in an interview. I worry that straight out asking, "Would I ever be able to be a home-based employee" might be too odd to ask in an interview but maybe a negative response to that question would be a good identifier that you don't want to work there while if they are glad that you asked about it is the kind of place where you want to work.
posted by VTX at 4:40 PM on November 22, 2014

A craftsman can make a living creating articles of value alone, without help. To succeed, the work product must be excellent. You can write books, or make cheese, or ceramics or saddles.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:43 PM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Looking at your other questions, I see that you have a CDL. There are trucking jobs where you don't have to deal with people very much. I know a few grocery hauling drivers that just do drop and hooks all night. I hate to tell you to interact with people more, but perhaps put up a post at a few trucking forums to ask for recommendations for such jobs.

Now that you have a year of experience under your belt, you are a much better candidate for other companies. Not every company is as dysfunctional as your current employer. It might be worth giving another bulk hauler a shot. As an experienced trucker, you are in demand.
posted by Talk To Me Goose at 4:46 PM on November 22, 2014

Long haul trucker driver.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:04 PM on November 22, 2014

I know a lot of people in GIS and cartography and they're all pretty friendly and people-oriented. There's certainly a lot of programming tasks that you could perform by yourself, but geography is a really collaborative field and people like talking to each other.
posted by desjardins at 5:49 PM on November 22, 2014

I'll second truck driving. Some jobs involve very little people interaction. For example I know the big food service companies (Sysco/GFS etc.) here have a very minimal warehouse locally. All their customers are served from Vancouver/Delta 3.5-4 hours away. Their overnight drivers hook up pair of 28' at the beginning of their shift; drive it to Kamloops; swap for empties; and then take the empties back to Vancouver.

There is lots of small shop trade work that is like this: motor rewinding, car painting, electrical service meter servicing, maintenance plumber/electrician, roofer, sprinkler fitter, all as long as you are working for someone else.

Medical transcription.

Tree planting.

Timber cruising.

posted by Mitheral at 6:11 PM on November 22, 2014

AppleTurnover, I am a programmer, and I have to deal with people all the demon-ridden time.
posted by starbreaker at 6:33 PM on November 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

First on artderctr list was med transcriptionist. I can attest to that. My daughter spends all day in her pajamas and talks to no one for weeks on end.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:43 PM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

A few years ago, before I acquired this skill set for myself, I worked with a woman who set up small web stores for clients. I never met her or talked to her on the phone; all interaction was email only. She did a great job and I've referred her to several friends.
posted by workerant at 6:45 PM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

My cousin works for the forestry service--she literally counts trees and spends months alone in the woods. Eventually, they promote you out of those jobs, although perhaps you could avoid that. ther than the fact that she went to college and then went to work for the forestry service, I have no idea how she into got the job.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:00 PM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Software engineering isn't a good fit unless you have an extremely high aptitude such that you can make significant contributions without collaboration. Think security researcher who can find exploits large enough to earn $thousands bounties. And even security researchers are a pretty social community - human engineering is an essential skill.
posted by SakuraK at 8:03 PM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

another data point on programming. I spent a few years working as a computer programmer and we had constant meetings and interaction, both with team members and users.
posted by jayder at 8:43 PM on November 22, 2014

I'll have to disagree with the hospital lab tech recommendation. There is a lot of phone interaction with nurses for most tech jobs, and it's not usually pleasant - rejecting samples in particular can feel really confrontational and grate on you. Not to mention coworkers themselves - I've experienced plenty of false niceness hiding a lot of shit talking in lab environments. Lab techs may not work with patients, but there are still coworkers around. Even night shift isn't immune to office politics sort of drama.

My fiance is in the metalworking industry and he knows several machinists who might talk to someone once a week (and not chitchat, literally just talking about something work related). He says that while some people choose to socialize, it's also totally acceptable to just not talk to others and nobody thinks anything of it. You're there to machine, not to chat, and everyone understands that. In a smaller shop you might be expected to interact more, but even so, a solitary trade like machining might be something to think about.
posted by sherber at 10:49 PM on November 22, 2014

Janitor, dishwasher.

Find a full time job somewhere else with a better culture and decide then if people are the problem before changing careers completely. The wrong job can kill you, I swear. You probably just have the wrong job. Verify that you have the wrong job before verifying that you have the wrong career.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:28 PM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

ColdChef might be able to clarify this but there are roles in funeral home businesses that are not public-facing, although in a family business these are often fulfilled by people doing many other jobs in the funeral home. There are also non-public roles in the coroner's office.

There are lab techs in specific roles like breast cancer screening who do nothing but look at mammograms all day. You're sitting near people but working in near total silence.

The most anti-social (not just introverted) person I know is a taxidermist, but he has a business because he inherited it from his father.

I have never met my accountant; I deal with him entirely through email and two annual phone calls (although I did find him on Twitter and he does market his business and is actually very friendly!)

The field of actuary science might interest you.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:02 AM on November 23, 2014

This has been asked before. Search 'job' and 'introvert' and maybe consider Mefimailing some of the previous posters?
posted by Happy Dave at 3:02 AM on November 23, 2014

The closest to that anyone I know has achieved involves a friend who has exceptional language skills. He had a job for many years at the MIT library sorting a vast trove of cassette tapes where the language that each tape was in was unknown, and he sorted them by language, alone at night, and attempted to determine what the topic is. So maybe archivist?
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:48 AM on November 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Data point on working as a video editor: I work as a creative in an ad agency. When we're 'in an edit' it means my partner and I are in an editing suite, with the editor, hovering over their shoulder, giving near-constant feedback, for hours. I was once in an edit for 11 straight hours. It might not be an ideal position for you.
posted by nerdfish at 3:56 AM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Freelance translator, if you've got the language skills and the translation skills. Most agency clients operate entirely over e-mail (or e-mail mixed with occasional, brief phone calls). It's entirely possible to go months on end without talking to another human in the course of your work day.

Seconding what's been said before about how different workplaces and work cultures can be though. The people aren't like your current colleagues everywhere.
posted by Otto the Magnificent at 6:49 AM on November 24, 2014

« Older Where to get a good copy of a famous painting?   |   Help us help him Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.