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Maybe you're painfully shy around new people. Maybe you're burned out after being part of big, team meetings every morning. Or, maybe you're just not that into doing things with the herd. The typical ladder doesn't always reward introverts, especially in an American culture where we've become accustomed to selling, selling, selling. Fortunately, online PhD programs make it easy to advance career skills without the anxiety of returning to the classroom. Check out these top positions--with college degrees to match--for people like you.

Subject

Shopping for Jobs with a PhD in Psychology or Economics

A retail store doesn't sound like the best place for an introvert. However, renewed focus on the psychology of shopping rewards professionals who prefer to blend into the crowd. Environmental psychologists, like author and consultant Paco Underhill, analyze shoppers' behavior to uncover new trends and ideas. Meanwhile, economists and analysts discreetly track mall traffic to uncover hot products for stock pickers. Far more advanced than typical secret-shopper jobs, these careers are rare but growing.

Graduates of online PhD programs in psychology or economics can translate academic success into lucrative consulting gigs. You can use degrees in these fields to take a step back from the general public, analyzing consumer behavior or overall economic trends from afar. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2008 economists and psychologists made mean annual salaries of $90,830 and $90,460, respectively.

Browse schools that offer psychology programs.

Computer Technician: Online Graduate Work for Introverts

Government research indicates that IT jobs attract plenty of self-described introverts. The explosion of online culture has created a safe space for Americans who prefer to communicate through IM or email rather than in person. A tightening job market in the information technology sector has made career training even more important for prospective IT job candidates. Online graduate degree programs in information technology can lead many graduates to careers like computer systems analyst with a 2008 mean salary of $78,830, according to the BLS.

View schools that offer computer and technology programs.

Auditor: Accounting for Shyness

If you prefer crunching numbers to crashing parties, the government would love to meet you. Strict new federal and state financial regulations require extended audits by both companies and their government overseers. Focus, honesty, integrity, and a high attention to detail set the very best auditors apart from their peers.

An online graduate degree in accounting can help you qualify for senior positions that require relatively few management duties. Auditors made a mean annual wage of $65,840 in 2008, as reported by the BLS, with the top ten percent pulling down a median of $102,380.

View schools that offer accounting programs.

Legal Researcher or Law Clerk

Not every law career requires you to argue before judges and juries. In fact, most attorneys depend on highly skilled teams of legal researchers, who ferret out important details and case histories. Many law schools now offer online Juris Doctor programs geared toward legal professionals with career ambitions other than to become practicing attorneys.

Title examiners and claims adjusters who use Juris Doctor training in their daily activities can earn the mean annual wage of $57,550 reported by the BLS. Overall, lawyers, including those primarily based in legal research, had a mean annual salary of $124,750 in the same year. If you're looking for a legal career that doesn't require a graduate-level degree, check out the training for paralegals, who made a mean annual wage of $48,790 in 2008.

View schools that offer legal studies programs.

Networking Online Made Easy

Even though each of these career paths rewards introverts who prefer to focus on work instead of office culture, finding these roles still requires networking. Many online PhD programs can help streamline that process by plugging you into online alumni networks and job placement programs. This way, instead of working the room at a job fair, you can use your skills and credentials to get right to work.

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