What Are the Best Jobs for People with ADHD?
It is often said that there is a “right” job for everyone; however, for millions of adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it can be a challenge to find it. With proper treatment, adults with ADHD can excel in many fields, although some jobs can be more suited to those living with this condition.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD is a neurobehavioral mental health disorder characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and short attention span. In general, no two people with ADHD express the disorder precisely alike. Some patients may be highly social, while others are withdrawn. Some may have a high concentration level with things that interest them, while others are continuously challenged to concentrate regardless of interest. Once diagnosed, individuals with ADHD have responded to treatment for their symptoms and report greatly improved satisfaction in their work and personal lives.
There are three main types of ADHD; Inattentive Type, Hyperactive/impulsive, and Combination. Each has its own symptoms.
Inattentive Type - The patient generally displays most of the below symptoms but few of the hyperactive-impulsive type.
Carelessness resulting in mistakes
Inability to stay on task
Inattention/Not appearing to listen/mind wandering
Inability to follow or comprehend instructions
Task avoidance, especially for tasks that require sustained attention
Lack of focus
Difficulty in organizing tasks (i.e., poor time management, messy, disorganized work product)
Hyperactive-Impulsive Type - The patient generally displays most of the below symptoms but few of the inattentive type.
Inability to remain still, i.e., fidgeting/squirming
Getting up often when seated, i.e., moving away from the workplace
The necessity to “burn off” excess energy/restlessness
Inability to work quietly
Talking too much, inappropriate conversation patterns
Often “on the go” as if “driven by a motor.”
Combination Type is the most common type of ADHD where the patient displays a relatively equal amount of both Inattentive and Hyperactive/Impulsive symptoms.
Turning Disadvantages into Advantages
Disadvantages of ADHD, with proper treatment, can be turned into advantages. Characteristics of ADHD such as excess energy, creativity, hyperfocus, and problem-solving skills are “in demand” skills sets in many career fields.
Strengths of Those with ADHD
Being able to channel high energy into work problems or long shifts is beneficial to an individual with ADHD. High energy/hyperactivity is a common symptom that can help an employee do more and accomplish their goal quicker. In today’s workplace, the ability to “do more with less” is a prized talent.
Individuals with ADHD also tend to be creative thinkers. Just as there is no “one size fits all” treatment plan for ADHD, solutions to workplace issues can be equally complex. The ability to look at things creatively leads to out-of-the-box thinking and solutions—another highly prized talent in the modern workplace.
Hyperfocus, also known as a high level of concentration while on task, to the point of blocking everything else out, benefits the employee and the employer in many ways. This characteristic allows an individual with ADHD to keenly focus for extended periods of time entirely on the tasks at hand. Hyperfocus, when properly treated, can be invaluable in workplaces that have many distractions as well as promoting workplace profitability.
Problem Solving Skills
Impulsivity can be channeled into the ability to quickly recognize issues and problem solve at high rates of speed. If properly treated, this common symptom of ADHD doubles as a highly prized set of skills.
20 Best Jobs for People with ADHD
People with ADHD undergoing treatment for their symptoms can be excellent and inspired employees when performing the right job with the correct structures in place. While there isn’t a one size fits all career that is a “best” job for people with ADHD, those roles which allow for an individual to have a varied approach to their work, non-monotonous nor highly repetitive in nature, and allow for freedom of physical movement can be highly beneficial.
1. Computer Programmer
Computer programmers can envision and implement solutions and new ways to do old tasks. This is highly appealing to many individuals with ADHD who would like to work independently yet in varied work that celebrates creative and solution-based thinking.
The creativity and hyperfocus that many ADHD individuals exhibit can make the engineering profession very attractive. With so many fields within the engineering profession, variety in tasks and settings is virtually assured. No time to get bored with this job.
The most successful entrepreneurs have the creative ability to see things in a different and highly profitable way and the impulse to act upon their instincts. Adults with ADHD see things with astounding creativity and are generally curious about making things better and hyperfocus to find that solution. Entrepreneurs are also known to be impulsive in their decision making when they recognize an opportunity. These are critical qualities in this profession.
4. Small Business Owner
Very much like the entrepreneur, this is your business, and you set the rules. Problem solving and the ability to act on educated impulse are key attributes to being a small business owner, as well as the ability to set your own schedule and pursue your passion.
Few professions benefit from creativity as cooking. The best chefs can think out of the box and create amazing culinary works of art. Chefs are constantly moving, and out-of-the-box thinking is key to their success. With properly treated symptoms and a love of food, this job may be the dream of ADHD individuals.
Being a teacher requires high levels of creativity, hyperfocus, and problem-solving. It also affords you the ability to physically move around and expend large amounts of energy. There is never a dull or monotonous moment when dealing with students, and as a teacher, an adult with ADHD can also recognize and help students with the condition.
7. ER Nurse
The emergency room is an adrenaline-packed workplace that requires high energy, quick reactions (impulsivity and hyperfocus), and is the opposite of monotony. These characteristics can be very suited to an adult with correctly diagnosed and treated ADHD.
Seeing the project from many different angles and creativity are hallmarks of this profession. Individuals with ADHD can excel in this job where hyperfocus on a project can yield incredible results for the clients.
9. Sales Representative
Sales reps must be able to exercise a high degree of creativity. There are a variety of environments and techniques that an individual with ADHD can excel in, such as inside sales, outside sales, and direct sales.
10. Computer Technician
Similar to the computer programmer, this job is broader in nature and provides even more variety. Rarely a dull moment and lots of opportunity to problem solve and interact on teams appeals to many ADHD individuals.
11. Fitness Trainer
Meeting new people, offering solutions and ideas to help them look and feel better, and moving from client to client quickly are vital qualities to a fitness trainer. Rarely is there a moment for boredom or monotony to set in so individuals with ADHD and energetic, social personalities can excel in this job.
Highly similar in nature to the fitness trainer, this profession helps others look and feel their best and requires a high degree of focus along with energy and creativity. ADHD individuals can benefit from the structure of appointments but the constant variation in their clients.
13. Graphic Designer
Creativity and variety are hallmarks of a graphic designer. Generally, this job sets its own work pace, and each project is separate and unique. This career offers a rewarding challenge for individuals with ADHD and attributes that align with creativity and independent thinking.
Journalists deal with multiple topics, and their work is ever-changing. This appeals to adults with ADHD because monotony does not happen. The broad range of topics is usually limited in duration, and hyperfocus is a considerable benefit to completing the often time-sensitive assignments.
15. Police Officer
Being situationally aware and making split-second decisions in a variety of environments are hallmarks of the profession. With constant challenges and adrenaline-induced situations, high energy, hyperfocused and creative ADHD individuals find this work highly rewarding.
Creativity and the ability to see the world with a unique perspective are common in individuals with ADHD. They are also the qualities of great photographers. With a multitude of different opportunities of work location and topic, this is an excellent field for someone with properly diagnosed and treated ADHD.
Extremely similar to police officers, being a firefighter requires courage and focus on fighting fires. Creativity and the ability to problem solve quickly are all advantages necessary for this critical profession.
Intricate ability to understand how things work and to problem solve solutions are hallmarks of this job. For an individual with ADHD who likes some routine with varied assignments and challenges, this can be an ideal role. Very little monotony and immediate reward when the solution works are very appealing to most.
19. Copy Editor
The hallmark of this job is constantly being busy with many things to focus on at once. High energy, lack of boredom, and the ability to move in between tasks can be highly gratifying to an adult with ADHD,
Helping others as you help yourself is possible. Doctors are known for high problem-solving abilities, creative thinking, and varied schedules. All of these are conducive to adults with properly diagnosed and treated ADHD.
Managing Your ADHD While at Work
Recognizing the triggers to your symptoms is the first step to managing ADHD at work. Workers with ADHD may be able to more successfully manage their symptoms using one or more of the below techniques.
1. Remain Focused
Focus is the ability to concentrate. Minimizing distractions helps your focus. A quiet, uncluttered workspace, putting your phone away, no food or beverages next to you, and having a list of priorities and instructions immediately available are all examples of techniques to help you remain focused.
2. Deal with Impulsivity and Temper
Interpersonal relationships at work and within work teams are critical. Outbursts of temper rarely end well. Learning to recognize your triggers and pre-planning how to avoid them can minimize potential incidents. When you feel the sensation that you are about to engage in an impulsive act, an effective technique is to immediately stop what you are doing and take a deep breath. Ask your colleagues for a minute to regroup your thoughts. Take calm, deep, and reassuring breaths. If possible, walk away to allow yourself the time you need and return when the symptoms have passed.
3. Cope with Hyperactivity
Many adults with ADHD feel the need to be in constant movement. Proactively setting up a system of breaks in work to allow for scheduled movement can greatly assist you. Changes in diet, i.e., avoiding caffeine and sugars (stimulants), regular exercise, and a good night’s sleep, are additional techniques that help address hyperactivity. Items such as stress-balls and under-the-desk leg exercisers are also helpful, but be careful to limit the number of devices to avoid them becoming distractions.
4. Deal with Memory Issues
Memory issues are frustrating and a great source of embarrassment for adults with ADHD. Write down the details or instructions and a timetable for each task at the time it is assigned. Once written, it is helpful to repeat it back to ensure accuracy. Memory Challenges can be significantly diminished by exercising good communication such as the repeat back technique and by reiterating project directions in writing.
5. Deal with Boredom
Boredom and monotony at work are triggers for many of the ADHD symptoms. While time and task management are important, setting up a series of breaks and rewards for certain levels of progress can significantly improve boredom with a task. Meditation or “mindfulness” techniques can help alleviate boredom. In addition to trained therapeutic techniques, there are also smartphone apps and online guided meditations that an adult with ADHD can use for free or very inexpensively.
6. Avoid Procrastination
To avoid procrastination, “don’t put off to tomorrow, what you can do today” is an excellent motto for adults with ADHD. It is very easy to bargain with yourself over completing necessary tasks and inadvertently create a no-win situation as a result. When you find that you are putting off a job, ask yourself why. Take a few moments to gather the reasons and determine if it is due to a real need, i.e., lack of information, or is it due to your ADHD? Recognition is half the battle, and mental discipline to put yourself back on task is needed. Reward yourself at regular intervals for staying on task.
7. Practice Effective Time Management
“On time, every time” is the goal of successful employees. Few things are as satisfying as ticking off a completed work assignment. Hence, a priority list with an estimated time for each task is a great reward and reminder system. Keeping a clock nearby helps you track your time on any given task, which is crucial for time management. Be realistic about time frames and discuss any needs or concerns with your supervisor.
Think You Might Have ADHD? Schedule an Evaluation
If you believe you have the symptoms of ADHD, take the Free 2-minute Self Evaluation. At Klarity, we assist you on your journey to ADHD diagnosis and treatment.
ADHD is a complicated medical condition, and there is no “one size fits all” type of treatment. Klarity makes available online ADHD treatment options tailored to the individual client and their needs. In general, patients benefit from a multi-phasic treatment plan consisting of diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, counseling, behavior modification techniques, and ongoing care from an experienced provider.
Book a call with a Klarity provider today to start your journey to ADHD management. 4) With more than a decade of experience in treating adult ADHD, the skilled team of licensed professionals on Klarity is committed to providing simplified and personalized care for our ADHD clients.