IQ’s and jobs

Bob Borson —  January 28, 2010 — 15 Comments

Albert Einstein

.

I find Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, scores incredibly fascinating. When my wife and I learned that my daughter (39 months old at the time) would be required to get hers tested as part of the required application process to Dallas area private schools, I decided to educate myself on the subject.

The concept of measuring the IQ of an individual is credited to either German psychologist and philosopher Wilhelm Stern in 1912, or to Lewis Terman in 1916 (sources vary). Prior to these dates, large scale testing was done by psychologist Alfred Binet in 1904 as part of a commission by the French government to create a system to differentiate intellectually normal children from those who were inferior (wow – that’s harsh). Binet created the Binet-Scale and sometime later, Dr. Terman revised this scale to become the Simon-Binet IQ Scale. That scale classified the scores as:

Over 140 – Genius or almost genius
120 – 140 – Very superior intelligence
110 – 119 – Superior intelligence
90 – 109 – Average or normal intelligence
80 – 89 – Dullness
70 – 79 – Borderline deficiency in intelligence
Under 70 – Feeble-mindedness

You can find lists of typical IQ scores by profession on the Internet and I’m not vouching for their credibility but the part that is the most interesting to me is how these scores can be used to measure the relative capabilities of the individual in a real world environment (i.e. what kind of job would you be capable of as the most valid predictor of future performance is general mental ability). To think that the intent of measuring one’s IQ is to determine to capability and capacity of an individual and that no amount of effort or preparation will allow someone with a 110 IQ to work a job that typically requires the capacity of a brain measuring something higher.

Top civil servants, Professors and Scientists – 140
Surgeons, Lawyers and Architects/ Engineers – 130
School teachers, Pharmacists, Accountants, Nurses, and Managers – 120.
Foremen, Clerks, Salesmen, Policemen and Electricians – 110
Machine operators, Welders, and Butchers – 100
Laborers, Gardeners, Miners, Sorters and Factory packers – 90

If you decided to have your IQ measured, the tests are most likely to use the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) or your child (like mine) would be tested with the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. I have had my IQ tested twice in my life; once when I was a child in the second grade and again when I was in my early thirties and interestingly enough, the scores of the two tests, almost 25 years apart were virtually identical.

All that having been said, having a high IQ doesn’t mean all that much to the unmotivated individual and success is relative and not a indicator of happiness (unless of course you are only measuring it against failure). Click here for a list of estimated IQ’s of famous people past and present.

.

.

  • frankelee

    It is unfortunate that you can’t get good information about such things on the internet. That IQ-to-profession scale is hopelessly optimistic about how many smart people we have around, the average IQ for top civil servants, professors, and scientists is not likely to be more than 120. And there is a widely held notion in psychology that a score of 125 means you have the brain power to engage in any profession. At 110 you’re certainly smart enough to graduate from college with proper effort and take a fully respectable job.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      can you cite a source?

  • kieran patrick

    If you love architecture more than anything in the world and you couldn’t imagine doing anything else in your life, but you did not going fantastically well in school, would attempted to become an architect be a waste of time? or is there really no way of knowing unless you give it ago?

  • AnyName

    I never took a test, because I am rather nervous of not having a top-ranking result ;-) And as an architect, you have to have the skill to be able to filter and correlate information. And if you can do this quicker and more effective than other people, then I believe, the IQ is at the level where it is supposed to be :-)

  • Cesca

    What – comment on a 2 year old article? Don’t mind if I do! My IQ is 155 as tested by Mensa, and yet, I have always felt that the top two tiers of jobs that you have listed here are above my reach. Not because I’m not clever, rather, because I am study smart; whereas these all appear to be quite practical ‘hands-on’ disciplines. Well, aside from ‘civil servant’; but then, certainly in the UK, civil servants are looked upon as not all that smart – else they would work somewhere in the private sector for better pay.
    I think there is also a negative correlation once you get above a certain ‘level’ to one’s ability to function in society; I certainly could not do a lot of those jobs, as I am unable to relate to people. This is perhaps not suprising if you consider there is a spread of 30 between those who are average, and those who are mentally challenged; this is almost doubled in regards to my score compared with the average mind. What’s more, it does not even mean that I am ‘cleverer’ – merely faster at pattern-spotting. It certainly doesn’t mean that the entire works of Dickens and Shakespeare are near surgically attatched to my brain like they are for my friend – IQ 103.
    I think IQ is a bad approximator of ones position in society, or job suitability, as there are far too many other compounding factors. But then, what do I know, I’m 16.

    • Mayfair Mayframe

      Cool submission. My sentiments, exactly.

  • Gaurav

    Really, you club architects with surgeons! One makes $300K on average and the other is lucky to break into six figures. Don’t kid yourself buddy… the higher the ‘average’ compensation the more competitive it gets.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      your comment is nonsensical. Are you trying to say that salary is absolutely equated with intelligence? Salary is determined by perceived value within the marketplace.

      • thatguy

        If everyone is going for the highest salary (which I’m not say they are), then it would make sense that those higher iqs would be more concentrated in higher salary brackets.

    • NSeagriff

      Have you heard some professional athletes try to put a sentence together? And they earn millions!

  • Anonymous

    I see artists are not included in the IQ by profession list. Left out again. ;_)

  • http://twitter.com/archihosk jay

    I still have never taken one of those. Unless you count the highly accurate online IQ tests, which not surprisingly always result in ‘Einstein had nothing on you, Super Genius’.

    Someday I’d be curious to take a real one, in the hopes that if its high, I can have the old IQ card to pull at any time. Like “Why didn’t I do the dishes? In case you forgot, my IQ is substantially higher than yours. I’m very busy thinking of important and complex things.”

    • http://www.qubemodern.com Mayfair Mayframe

      Jay, you just made my ribs cracking. Can’t just stop, right now. “Why didn’t I do the dishes? In case you forgot, my IQ is substantially higher than yours.”

      You sure pass funny test, better than Bill Cosby.

  • Anonymous

    No – based on her IQ scores they all wanted her but there is a nasty trend of people holding their kids back a year for development reasons – something we didn’t want to do. As a result, we moved to an area with exceptional private schools and signed her up for kindergarten! Take that System!!

  • http://funandfit.org Alexandrafunfit

    Guess what? I was tested on a regular basis in school and also always similar. And having a high IQ turned out to mean I am really good at taking tests! But in grad school that made me a good student, not necessarily a good counselor. That part comes from other areas, not the IQ. So it’s an interesting study, and one with which I am also very familiar (they cram it down you in grad school – psych), yet is just one part. I hope Katie wasn’t judged solely on that – or boo on that school.