Finding our Career Path Utilising the Multiple Intelligences Theory

By Joe Wilner

A particularly favourite quote of mine on intelligences states that “Everybody is a genius. Yet if you judge a fish by its ability to climb trees, it will spend its entire existence thinking that it is stupid.” 

Even today, people still subscribe to the false belief that “success” is solely connected with a standardized grade or limited to a high academic IQ.

Sadly, this can really limit someone’s perception for career possibilities if they don’t fall within this narrow standard definition of success.

In fact, the world is so big that we can find a lucrative career where our natural strengths and talents shine if we expand our horizons to encompass a wider range of diverse aptitudes.

A good way of expanding on career possibilities lies in utilising the theory of multiple intelligences.

The famous developmental psychologist Dr. Howard Gardner coined the term “multiple intelligences” in 1983 as a way of describing peoples’ natural disposition for engaging and learning in the world.

Great news!! You may be considerably more intelligent than you think. Read through this article to identify the many careers that fit your essential intelligence.

  1. The Naturalist Intelligence (being “Nature Smart”). 

This relates to the human capacity to assess and consider living things (plants, animals) including sensitivity to the other aspects of the natural world (weather phenomena, geology)

Possible careers include: 

  • Conservationist.
  • Nature photographer.
  • Landscaper.
  • Astronomer.
  • Meteorologist.
  • Animal Trainer.
  • Veterinarian.
  • Botanist.
  • Farmer.
  • Marine Biologist.
  • Geologist.
  • Ecologist.
  • Gardener.
  • Forest ranger.
  • Zookeeper.
  1. The Musical Intelligence (being “Music Smart”).

Musical intelligence relates to the ability to discern rhythm, timbre, pitch, and tone. This intelligence allows us to appreciate, recognize, reproduce, create, and reflect on music, as demonstrated by musicians, vocalist, composers, conductors, and sensitive listeners. Let’s play music and rock and roll!

Possible careers include: 

  • Songwriter.
  • Music teacher.
  • Recording engineer.
  • Music therapist.
  • Sound editor.
  • Music publisher.
  • Music promoter.
  • Choir director.
  • Piano tuner.
  • Music conductor.
  • Speech pathologist.
  • Music critic.
  • Music retailer.
  • Audiologist.
  1. The Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (being “Numbers/Reasoning Smart”).

Do you find yourself you always being drawn to solving arithmetic problems, games of strategy and experiments? Logical-mathematical intelligence relates to the capacity to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses, and carry out mathematical operations. You will recognise that this fits the traditional view of intelligences and straddles the stereotypical prestigious career option.

Possible jobs include:

  • Database designer/engineer.
  • Computer programmer.
  • Economist.
  • Researcher.
  • Accountant.
  • Computer analyst.
  • Physicist.
  • Engineer.
  • Mathematician.
  • Computer technician.
  • Network analyst.
  • Pharmacist.
  • Statistician.
  • Physician.
  1. The Existential Intelligence (being “Spirit Smart”).

Interestingly, spiritual intelligence was not included in Gardner’s original list of  intelligences but has been recognised as a legitimate aptitude that can be quantified and studied. This intelligence can be identified by a sensitivity towards and ability to tackle deep questions about our human existence, including the meaning of life, why we die, what happens in the afterlife and how did we get here.

Possible jobs include:

  • Preacher.
  • Pastoral counselor.
  • Chaplain.
  • Philosopher.
  • Public speaker.
  • Psychic.
  • Meditation instructor.
  • Yoga instructor.
  1. The Interpersonal Intelligence (being “People Smart”).

We refer to Daniel Goleman’s work on social intelligence, which has made an enormous impact on helping people grow their capacity to understand and interact effectively with others. Essentially, social intelligence comprises effective verbal and nonverbal communication, as well as the ability to perceive distinctions among others, and also sensitivity to the moods and temperaments of others.

Possible careers include: 

  • Manager.
  • Politician.
  • Diplomat.
  • Child Care.
  • Social Worker.
  • Sales Representative.
  • Leader.
  • Coach.
  • Clergy.
  • Receptionist.
  • Counselor.
  1. The Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (or being “Body Smart”). 

We recognise Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence as the ability to manipulate objects and perform a variety of physical skills. When a baseball player makes a swooping catch or a dancer gracefully performs a twirl there’s definitely intelligence being demonstrated. Perhaps they are not able to articulate the physics of what they’re doing, but there is certainly a body-mind coordination that does not necessitate articulating mathematical or verbal reasoning. In fact, I know of many academics who privately envy these graceful athletes and wish for a proportion of their physical prowess and abilities.

Possible jobs include: 

  • Dancer.
  • Athlete.
  • Performer.
  • Physical Education Instructor.
  • Craftsman.
  • Paramedic.
  • Mechanic.
  • Firefighter.
  • Builder.
  • Physical Therapist.
  • Park Ranger.
  • Farmer.
  • Carpenter.
  • Actor/ Actress.
  1. The Linguistic Intelligence (being “Word Smart”).

Linguistic intelligence relates to the ability to easily reason in words and to use language to express and persuade complex meanings. When the orator rouses us with a moving speech or the wordsmith galvanises us through their inspiring verbal prowess, we witness linguistic intelligence at work. We all know someone in class who had “the gift of the gab” meaning someone skilled with words who could charm even the teacher in class. Later in life we can see these traits in comedian, lawyers, salesmen and marketers.

Possible careers include: 

  • Lawyer.
  • Comedian.
  • Broadcaster.
  • Editor.
  • Public Speaker.
  • Politician.
  • Preacher.
  • Poet.
  • Actor/ Actress.
  • English/ Writing Tutor.
  • Journalist.
  • Historian.
  • Journalist.
  • Teacher.
  1. The Intrapersonal Intelligence (being “Self-Smart”). 

The Intrapersonal intelligence relates to the ability to understand oneself and one’s feelings and thoughts, through introspection and to use this knowledge in planning and directing one’s life. This self-awareness is important for all of us but some people have a heightened natural connection to their emotions and inner-experience.

Possible jobs include:

  • Philosopher.
  • Career counselor.
  • Psychologist.
  • Criminologist.
  • Program planner.
  • Writer.
  • Energy healer.
  • Personal counselor.
  • Theologian.
  • Consultant.
  1. The Spatial Intelligence (being “Picture Smart”). 

The core capacities in this area comprises mental imagery, spatial perception and reasoning, image manipulation, artistic, graphic skills, and capturing and harnessing an active imagination. A friend of mine is an architect who enjoys urban sketching as a hobby.

Possible jobs include:

  • Architect.
  • Artist.
  • Surveyor.
  • Strategic planner.
  • Fashion Designer.
  • Photographer.
  • Sculptor.
  • Graphic Designer.
  • Urban planner.
  • Engineer.
  • Truck driver.
  • Interior Decorator.
  • Pilot.

You’ll most likely find you have proficiency in several of the categories of intelligences we’ve discussed, so a helpful exercise is to note your top three areas of aptitude for which you create a Venn-diagram. From that point you can explore careers that overlap between your strongest distinct capacities.

Have fun and good luck!