Dorji was born to Gongzim Raja Sonam Tobgay Dorji and Rani Chuni Wangmo on October 6, 1935 at Bhutan House, Kalimpong. He became the first Bhutanese to study in the United States attending Cornell University, which he graduated from in 1959. Dorji excelled in athletics, such as boxing, golf, and tennis. He returned to Bhutan from the United States and started out measuring land. He spent months traveling around Bhutan calculating the terrain by hand using the most readily available measuring systems. He later served as Postmaster General, Paro Thrimpon, Deputy and later Secretary General of the country's Development Wing..