Careers for Critical Thinkers

Jan 19, 2020

Critical thinking ability is a skill that could be applied to a wide number of jobs and career fields. However, we will discuss a number of careers in which critical thinking is basically a requirement.

Career Options for Critical Thinkers

Critical thinking involves being able to analyze a problem, situation, or scenario in an unbiased way in order to anticipate potential problems, raise questions, and come to reasonable conclusions. These thinkers are often very open-minded, as they are not bound to any one way of thinking and are constantly able to reassess situations from alternative points of view. Critical thinkers are likely suited to a wide variety of jobs, but we will discuss several career options in which this type of thought process is a necessity.

Job Title Average Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Lawyer $120,910 6%
Physician $208,000+ (Physicians and Surgeons) 7% (Physicians and Surgeons)
Judge $133,920 3%
Actuary $102,880 20%
Industrial Designer $66,590 (Commercial and Industrial Designers) 3% (Commercial and Industrial Designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information on Jobs for Critical Thinkers


Lawyers usually work in a specific area of the law, like tax law, family and divorce law, litigation, or intellectual property and provide legal counsel to clients in court or other legal proceedings. Problem-solving and analytical skills are both necessary to be a successful lawyer and are two skills which often come naturally to critical thinkers. Lawyers may need to be able to think outside the box in order to best meet the needs of their clients. To become a lawyer, you must complete a bachelor's degree along with a three-year law degree and then pass the bar exam for the state in which you plan to practice.


There are many types of physicians, from psychiatrists to surgeons to pediatricians, and all physicians must complete training to prepare for their particular area of medicine. Regardless of the specialty area, all physicians work with patients and must be able to diagnose or treat various types of illnesses. This requires critical thinking ability, as illnesses have many different symptoms and may affect patients in various ways. To become a physician, a student must complete an undergraduate degree, followed by medical school and residency.


Judges preside over court hearings, negotiations, and disputes, in which they are responsible for listening to the arguments presented by both parties, analyzing evidence, deciding whether given testimony is accurate and supported by the evidence, and ultimately making decisions. They also are responsible for making sure legal proceedings, like court hearings, are conducted fairly and according to the law. To be a judge, it is necessary to be a critical thinker, as you will have to absorb a great deal of conflicting testimony and information and decide what is truthful or how the law applies to the situation. To become a judge, you generally need to be a lawyer, first, and judges are either appointed or elected.


Actuaries are employed by companies and organizations to analyze financial data and assess the likelihood of various events occurring to determine the resulting financial cost to their employer. Actuaries are usually the ones who test different insurance policies and pension plans in order to see what makes the most financial sense for a company. This position could be a good fit for critical thinkers who are interested in finance, as actuaries must be able to ask critical questions and imagine all possible scenarios in order to provide the best counsel to their employers. To become an actuary, you usually need a bachelor's degree in a field like statistics, mathematics, or actuarial science.

Industrial Designer

As an industrial designer, you will be responsible for developing new designs for different types of products, including kitchen appliances, vehicles, and children's toys. Industrial designers work in many different industries, but they all generally sketch out their designs by hand or with the help of specialized computer software. This position involves critical thinking, as industrial designers may need to develop completely novel designs, anticipate possible problems, and come up with creative solutions to meet their employers' or clients' needs. To become an industrial designer, you generally will need a bachelor's degree in a field like industrial design or architecture.

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