Most of us choose our careers based on what we think will feel most rewarding, what will best suit our personality, and what will give us meaning and purpose. And sociopaths are no different. Due to how they think and what they value, there are a few jobs sociopaths are more likely to have, as well as ones where they’re most likely to succeed.
Generally, experts say they tend to go for jobs that provide them with a sense of control, power, and prestige — all things sociopaths crave. “And because they have little regard for how others feel — although they are great at pretending — they have a cold, rational approach to seeking out these professions to maximize their success or whatever benefits they’d like to gain out of it,” psychologist and executive coach Dr. Perpetua Neo tells Bustle.
Sociopaths can form connections with others, and they can network up a storm. But these are empty relationships created for their own benefit. “A sociopath lacks a conscience,” coach Rachel Wall, founder of Feeling Is Healing, tells Bustle. “In a sense they are empty inside as they rarely feel certain human emotions, such as fear and shame. They are exploitative and entitled.” And that’s something that can help them get ahead. Here, the jobs sociopaths are most likely to have for these very reasons, according to experts.
A sociopath might be drawn to the medical field for the power and prestige it provides, with surgery being a top pick, in terms of specialties they gravitate towards.
“This role has power over others,” Wall says. “This profession also benefits from the sociopath’s lack of certain emotions, such as fear and their lack of empathy for others.”
That’s not to say that all surgeons are sociopaths. But the fact sociopaths are able to remain detached from the feelings of others can actually benefit them, and help them gain success in a field others may view as upsetting or gory.
As Wall says, “This enables them to carry out the surgical procedures without emotions getting in their way.”
Law can be an ideal career field for someone who enjoys influencing others, as well as someone who is on the hunt for prestige — both of which are things sociopaths value.
Sociopaths are also cut out for law due to their lack of emotion, which can come in handy in the court room. “They are able to quickly make decisions and take risks without fear of the consequences getting in the way,” Wall says. “A sociopath also needs constant drama and stimulation as they can get bored easily. Therefore this type of career, where the stakes are high, would fill that need.”
Of course, not all politicians are sociopaths. But since it’s a career field where they can find great success, and reap all sorts of benefits, experts say they tend to be drawn to it.
“A sociopath may choose a career as a politician as it would put them in a position where they could be revered and up on a pedestal,” Wall says. “This role would give them the power and control that they crave.”
Due to the way they think, sociopaths tend to make great salespeople. “They are very good at reading people and working out what makes them tick,” Wall says. “They have a superficial charm. They are able to quickly create a sense of connection with a person when they meet them, through flattery.” So they’re able to put on a friendly face, shake hands, and seal deals.
“Their lack of guilt and conscience [also] gives them the ability to exaggerate and play on half truths,” Wall says. “They may invent stories, for example, about the experiences of past customers, which will also help them to be successful in this role.”
It’s been said that as many as one in five CEOs are sociopaths. And it makes sense why that might be the case. As Dr. Neo says, “They know how to leverage the corporate world structure to advance their careers in ways that exploit legal loopholes.” Their sociopathic traits often help them speed right to the top.
As with these other positions, it’s important to note that not all professors are sociopaths. But it is a career field that comes with a lot of power, and thus one experts say they might be interested in — even if they aren’t qualified.
“There’s research and anecdotes of sociopaths faking qualifications and assuming positions of power in academia/research, because they are charming enough to play the political game,” Wall says.
Sociopaths are known for their charm and ability to win people over — even though they aren’t doing so in a genuine way — why is why they may be able to waltz right into this career field without a degree.
“They are attracted to professorships because it’s high prestige, gives them access to malleable and impressionable minds … and may even give them the kick out of knowing how many people they are influencing based on false advertising,” Wall says. “Besides, dark personality types are great at disappearing and starting over in a new country or city, so if found out, they will simply resume their game elsewhere, armed with an increased sophistry of what not to do next.”
Since sociopaths don’t let emotions stand in their way, they often find fast success in the finance world, “where risky decisions need to be made without fear of the consequences,” Wall says. “That being said, there are many people in [these] roles who are not sociopaths! A sociopath could be found in any role, especially where there may be an opportunity for them to rise in the ranks to a position where they have control over others.”
A sociopath may be interested in attaining a position within a church or other religious organization, experts say, since it will allow them to influence — and occasionally manipulate — others.
“People looking for spiritual redemption or solutions tend to be vulnerable and permeable to influence,” Dr. Neo says. “Sociopaths know that they can easily exploit this, and then abuse the association in our head.”
They may also enjoy all the attention they get, as well as the exalted position it will provide them within the community.
Not all police officers are sociopaths, but experts say it’s easy to see someone who is might be drawn to the profession. “The uniform [and] position gives them something to exploit,” Dr. Neo says. “Hiding behind it also allows them to wield power and authority, which they may not otherwise have.” They get to give out tickets and tell others what to do, which gives them the sense of power they’re always looking for — all while on the job.
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that these career fields are certainly not made up of sociopaths alone, so don’t jump to conclusions. Sociopaths may be more drawn to them, however, due to the power and prestige these jobs provide, both of which are things they value greatly.