10 Jobs Where Employees Tend to Have the Highest IQs

Charlie from 'Always Sunny' uses his inflated IQ scores and intelligence to conduct science experiments

Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia uses his inflated IQ scores and intelligence to conduct science experiments | Source: FX

For some occupations, the ability to show up on time and complete your daily tasks isn’t enough. Certain employers want employees who can think outside the box. They want employees who can strategize and develop new methods of completing their work. They want people who have higher-than-average levels of intelligence, or those who seem to soar past their peers in terms of cognition and thinking abilities. IQ scores, though not always reliable, can help sort the wheat from the chaff.

IQ scores — “IQ” stands for intelligence quotient, a measure of human intelligence — are finicky. You can spend some time taking all sorts of online IQ tests to get an idea of where you land on the spectrum, but most people land between 85 and 115. If you score above 125, you’re way above average. Again, though — these things aren’t alway reliable, and in most cases, don’t really mean much.

Unless, of course, your boss wants employees who are whip-smart. Or at least appear to be.

IQ scores, intelligence, and career strategy

Certain jobs and career paths are more or less made for those with superior levels of intelligence. It takes much more than a simple IQ test and impressive IQ scores to accurately gauge who those individuals might be, but studies have shown that those who lean toward the upper end of the spectrum gravitate toward certain occupations. Once you see the list, you’ll probably agree — at least in theory.

So, which jobs are only cut out for those who are smarter than average? Using data from an older study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, here are 10 jobs typically suited for those with high IQ scores.

1. Doctors and surgeons

Medical physician doctor woman writing with laptop on table

A doctor works with a patient | Source: iStock

Becoming a doctor means running a rather crazy gauntlet. It’ll take many years of schooling just to get into a residency or entry-level job, and that alone means you need to have more grit, drive, and intelligence than the average person. For that reason, many doctors tend to have higher IQ scores.

2. College professors

A professor at work at NYU

A professor at work at NYU | John Moore/Getty Images

To be a professor means to profess, and you can’t do much of that without some kind of smarts. Professors typically hold high-level college degrees, and are experts in their field. To get there, you have to be a thinker, and someone who can soak up knowledge like a sponge.

3. Electrical engineers

Technician engineer checking wires

Technician engineer | Source: iStock

Engineering isn’t an easy profession to get into, and like many other highly specialized fields, it requires a lot of education and the ability to think abstractly. That doesn’t come easy for most people, so for those in the engineering field — electrical engineering, specifically — the job tends to attract very smart applicants.

4. Lawyers

Law and Order

Law and Order | Source: NBC

Abstract thinking and the ability to recall volumes worth of information is necessary to be a good attorney, and that’s one of the reasons the average person isn’t cut out for the law profession. Lawyers are smart cookies, typically. And if you watch Law and Order or any other crime procedural drama, you’ll come away with that impression.

5. Scientists

An android, built by science

An android, built by science | Source: iStock

“Scientist” is an incredibly broad term, and in this case, is used to describe a number of professions. Scientists can work in health care, technology — almost any sector you can think of. And they all need the intelligence to solve complex problems and come to logical solutions. In other words, they need to be very smart.

6. Materials and design engineers

Proposed car design

Proposed car design | Source: CNET

Another offshoot in the engineering field, design and materials engineers need to have deep understandings of a number of subjects, including science and math. For the average person, those probably aren’t strong suits. If you want to get deep into design, a high IQ is almost certainly a prerequisite.

7. Software and IT professionals

A developer working on a tablet

A developer working on a tablet | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In many cities, workers for big tech companies are moving in and taking over — all with higher than average salaries. In most of those cases, a higher than average intelligence is necessary to tackle the problems that tech companies are facing, like staying a step ahead of consumers’ wants and needs.

8. Sales

salesmen in a car lot

Car lot | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

This is perhaps the most surprising job on the list. You don’t necessarily need to be smart to get into sales — more ruthless and gritty, than anything. But when you think about it, being a brilliant salesperson is much easier if you’re smart. You can deploy a number of psychological strategies, for one, and have a deeper understanding of your products and services.

9. Finance

A finance professional's desk

A finance professional’s desk | Source: iStock

If you’ve seen or read The Big Short, all that financial jargon and complex money talk probably had your head spinning. It’s due to the insane complexity of the financial sector that only very bright and very hungry people make it to Wall Street.

10. Real estate

A real estate agent and client

A real estate agent and client | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Another surprising entry, real estate professionals tend to be smarter than the average bear — at least according to our source study. When you think about it, real estate professionals do require a number of skills and smarts: They need to be salespeople, have the financial know-how, know a thing or two about design and engineering, and even a bit about law.

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