Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting millions worldwide.
While ADHD doesn’t affect intelligence, it can make specific tasks or activities more challenging.
For some people living with ADHD, specific jobs may not be the best fit due to the nature of the work or the work environment.
A survey from the fall of 2021 of over 31,000 college students from 41 schools across the United States found that around 12 percent of respondents reported suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as individuals with ADHD may have different strengths, challenges, and preferences when it comes to their careers.
National Medical Ambulatory Care Survey found that in 2018 alone, there were 8.7 million visits to physician offices for Attention Deficit Disorder as the primary diagnosis, with ADHD diagnosis affecting three times as many males (13.0%) as females (4.2%).
That being said, this further confirms there are some jobs that may be particularly challenging for people with ADHD.
Here are the top 5 worst careers for ADHD adults:
Air Traffic Controller: This job requires a high degree of focus and attention to detail, as well as the ability to multitask and make quick decisions. For people with ADHD, the high-stress environment and intense focus required for this job may be particularly challenging.
Stock Trader: Stock traders are responsible for buying and selling stocks and other securities. This job requires a lot of focus and attention to detail, as well as the ability to make quick decisions under pressure. For individuals with ADHD, the fast-paced and high-stress environment of the stock market may be overwhelming.
Surgeon: Surgeons are responsible for performing complex surgical procedures. This job requires a high degree of focus and attention to detail, as well as the ability to work under pressure. For adults with ADHD, the long hours and intense focus required for this job may be particularly challenging.
Accountant: As mentioned earlier, accountants are responsible for managing financial records and ensuring they are accurate and up-to-date. This job requires a lot of attention to detail and may involve repetitive tasks. For adults with ADHD, the repetitive nature of this job may be particularly challenging.
Proofreader: Proofreaders are responsible for reviewing written content for errors and inconsistencies. This job requires a lot of focus and attention to detail. For individuals with ADHD, the monotony of this job and the need for sustained focus may be particularly challenging.
According to Dr. Lenard Adler, a renowned psychiatrist and director of the Adult ADHD Program at NYU Langone Health, untreated ADHD in adults can lead to a higher frequency of job changes or job losses than those without the disorder.
For some, seeking appropriate treatment for ADHD with a mental health professional may be crucial in enabling individuals to overcome these challenges and thrive in their professional lives.
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Worst Careers for ADHD with A Lot of Repetitive Tasks
First, jobs that require a lot of repetitive tasks or strict attention to detail may be difficult for individuals with ADHD.
These types of jobs are best to avoid because they can be tedious and may not provide the stimulation that individuals with ADHD need to stay focused and engaged.
Examples of such jobs include:
Data Entry Clerk: This job involves entering data into a computer system or database, often with a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail.
Accountant: Accountants are responsible for managing financial records and ensuring that they are accurate and up-to-date. This job requires a lot of attention to detail and may involve repetitive tasks such as reconciling accounts or preparing financial statements.
Assembly Line Worker: This job involves working on a production line, performing repetitive tasks such as assembling parts or packaging products.
Quality Control Inspector: Quality control inspectors are responsible for ensuring that products meet certain quality standards. This job involves inspecting products for defects or imperfections and may require strict attention to detail.
Medical Coder: Medical coders are responsible for assigning codes to medical diagnoses and procedures for billing purposes. This job requires a lot of attention to detail and may involve repetitive tasks such as reviewing medical records and assigning codes.
Librarian: Being a librarian can be a challenging job for someone with ADHD because it requires a lot of sitting still and staying focused for extended periods of time. Librarians need to be able to organize and maintain extensive collections of books, help patrons find the information they need, and handle a variety of administrative tasks.
Call Center: The fast-paced and high-stress environment of a call center can also be overwhelming and may exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and distractibility. However, it’s important to note that not everyone with ADHD will struggle with the demands of a call center job, and some individuals may find the structure and routine of the work to be a good fit for their unique needs.
Individuals with ADHD may find it challenging to maintain focus and may become easily distracted or bored with the task at hand, which can increase their underlying anxiety.
Worst jobs for ADHD with a lot of sitting and desk work
Another type of job that may not be a good fit for individuals with ADHD is one that requires a lot of sitting and desk work.
Individuals with ADHD may have a hard time staying focused and may feel restless if they are required to sit still for extended periods of time.
It’s important to note that some individuals with ADHD may be able to manage these types of jobs with the help of accommodations such as frequent breaks or a standing desk.
Here are some examples of desk work jobs for some people with ADHD to avoid:
Writer/Editor: Writing and editing jobs often involve sitting at a desk for extended periods of time while working on a computer. This job requires a lot of focus and attention to detail, but it may be a good fit for individuals who prefer to work independently and enjoy using their creativity.
Graphic Designer: Graphic designers create visual concepts and designs using computer software. This job involves sitting at a desk for extended periods of time and may require a lot of focus and attention to detail.
Lawyer: Lawyers often spend much time sitting at a desk while researching and preparing legal documents. This job requires a lot of focus, attention to detail, and strong analytical and communication skills.
Accountant: As mentioned earlier, accountants are responsible for managing financial records and ensuring they are accurate and up-to-date. This job involves a lot of sitting at a desk and working on a computer and may require a lot of focus and attention to detail.
Customer Service Representative: Customer service representatives often spend a lot of time sitting at a desk while answering phone calls or responding to emails. This job requires strong communication skills and the ability to work well under pressure.
It’s important to note that sitting for long periods of time can have negative health consequences, so it’s vital to take breaks and incorporate movement into your day whenever possible.
The main reason is that research studies have consistently revealed that sitting down for long periods of time can have negative health consequences.
Prolonged sitting has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature death.
A 2015 systematic review analyzed data from 47 studies; they found that prolonged sitting was associated with a 24% increased risk of all-cause mortality, a 14% increased risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, and an 8% increased risk of cancer mortality, independent of physical activity levels.
Additionally, a 2018 study found that prolonged sitting was associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even among individuals who exercise regularly.
To counteract these adverse health effects, it's important to incorporate physical activity breaks into your day.
Avoid ADHD jobs with multitasking or quick decision-making
Jobs that involve a lot of multitasking or quick decision-making may also be difficult for individuals with ADHD and are best avoided. These types of jobs require a high level of focus and attention to detail, which may be challenging.
People with ADHD and limited attention span may find it difficult to prioritize tasks and may struggle with decision-making under pressure.
Here are some examples of multitasking jobs for some people with ADHD to avoid:
Emergency Room Nurse: Emergency room nurses are responsible for caring for patients experiencing medical emergencies. This job requires the ability to multitask and make quick decisions under pressure.
Sales Representative: Sales representatives are responsible for selling products or services to customers. This job requires the ability to multitask, manage multiple client relationships, and make quick decisions about pricing and negotiations.
Event Planner: Event planners organize and coordinate events such as weddings, conferences, and parties. This job requires the ability to multitask, manage multiple vendors and client relationships, and make quick decisions about event logistics.
News Anchor: News anchors report current events and deliver news to viewers. This job requires multitasking and quick decisions, as breaking news stories may require immediate attention and coverage.
Social Media Manager: Social media managers are responsible for creating and managing social media content for individuals or organizations. This job requires multitasking, managing multiple social media accounts, making quick decisions about content, and responding to comments or messages.
These are just a few jobs that may involve multitasking or quick decision-making. It’s important to note that not all jobs in these fields will be a good fit for individuals with ADHD. It’s essential to consider individual strengths and challenges when choosing a job.
Jobs with a lot of social interaction
Avoid jobs that require a lot of social interaction:
Teacher: Teachers are responsible for educating and guiding students. This job involves a lot of interaction with students, parents, and colleagues.
Social Worker: Social workers are responsible for helping individuals and families cope with a variety of issues, such as poverty, abuse, and mental illness. This job involves a lot of interaction with clients, colleagues, and other professionals in the field.
Public Relations Specialist: Public relations specialists are responsible for managing the public image of individuals, organizations, or companies. This job involves a lot of interaction with clients, journalists, and members of the public.
These are just a few examples of jobs involving much social interaction. For a certain percentage of people with ADHD who thrive in social situations, these jobs may be a great fit.
Curiously, research shows that employees with ADHD can be more creative, inventive, innovative, imaginative, and curious.
Individuals with ADHD often possess unconventional thinking skills that are highly valued in professional settings.
By better understanding their ADHD symptoms and receiving appropriate treatment, they can leverage these traits to their advantage.
Best jobs for people with ADHD
There are plenty of ‘best jobs for people with adhd’. It’s important to note that everyone with ADHD is different, and what may be difficult for one person may not be a problem for another.
It’s essential to consider your strengths and challenges when choosing a job and to find a work environment that supports your needs. Look for jobs that align with you.
According to a study, results indicate a positive association between ADHD symptoms and the decision to become self-employed. Here are some examples of the best jobs for adults with ADHD:
Entrepreneur: Starting a business or working for oneself can be an excellent fit for individuals with ADHD, as it allows for a lot of flexibility, creativity, and autonomy.
Designer: Designers create visual designs for various mediums, such as websites, advertisements, and product packaging. This job involves a lot of creativity, problem-solving, and flexibility, which can be a good fit for individuals with ADHD.
Personal Trainer: Personal trainers work one-on-one with clients to develop fitness plans and help them reach their goals. This job involves a lot of movement and can be an excellent fit for individuals with ADHD who need to stay active and engaged.
Freelance Writer: Writing can be an excellent fit for individuals with ADHD who enjoy creativity and have a strong ability to focus on a single task for extended periods. This job can involve a lot of flexibility and autonomy, depending on the type of writing and work environment.
Chef: Chefs work in fast-paced, high-stress environments and are responsible for creating culinary masterpieces. This job involves a lot of creativity, problem-solving, and multitasking, which can be a good fit for individuals with ADHD.
Pro Tip: Consider trying out different careers through job shadowing or internships to find an ideal job. This can help you get a better sense of what a particular job entails and whether it is a good fit for you. Also, if you do decide to pursue a particular career, consider whether accommodations may be helpful.
For example, you may benefit from a flexible work schedule or the ability to work from home.
There are many strategies that individuals can use to manage their symptoms of ADHD in the workplace.
Some methods include breaking down tasks into smaller, manageable steps, using a timer or alarm to stay on task, and taking frequent breaks to move around and re-energize.
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Time-management techniques are crucial for individuals with ADHD as they may struggle with managing their time effectively. One strategy that can help prioritize tasks.
By identifying the most important tasks and completing them first, individuals with ADHD can focus on what is essential and avoid feeling overwhelmed by a long to-do list.
Setting goals can help provide structure and direction for individuals with ADHD. Setting achievable goals and breaking them down into smaller, manageable steps can help individuals with ADHD feel accomplished and avoid procrastination.
Using timers or alarms is another effective strategy for managing time. By setting a timer for a specific task, individuals with ADHD can stay on track and avoid getting distracted by other tasks or stimuli.
Timers can also help individuals with ADHD better understand how long specific tasks take, enabling them to plan their time more effectively.
In summary, time-management techniques such as prioritizing tasks, setting goals, and using timers or alarms can be highly effective for individuals with ADHD.
These strategies can help individuals with ADHD stay on track, manage their time effectively, achieve their goals, and succeed tremendously in their job or career.
Workplace accommodations for ADHD
Workplace flexibility is crucial for individuals with ADHD, who may need accommodations to manage their symptoms and be productive.
One accommodation that can be helpful is the ability to work from home. Remote work can provide a more structured and controlled environment, reducing distractions and enabling individuals with ADHD to focus on their work.
Flexible work hours can be helpful for individuals with ADHD, who may need to take breaks or work during non-traditional hours.
Another accommodation that can be helpful is the ability to take frequent breaks. Individuals with ADHD may need to take more frequent breaks to manage their symptoms, and providing them with the opportunity to do so can help them be more productive and reduce stress.
LGBTQ+ individuals with ADHD often struggle to find and keep jobs. Their symptoms like inattention and disorganization pose workplace challenges. On top of that, they may face discrimination due to their intersecting identities. This community could benefit from increased awareness, inclusive hiring practices, flexibility, and support from employers. With the right environment, they have much potential to thrive at work.
In summary, workplace flexibility is a basic accommodation for individuals with ADHD. By providing accommodations such as remote work, flexible work hours, and the ability to take frequent breaks, employers can support individuals with ADHD in managing their symptoms and being productive in the workplace.
Lastly, mindfulness is a feasible and well-accepted intervention for adults diagnosed with ADHD, according to research. The same study suggests that people with ADHD would benefit from practicing mindfulness integrated with Cognitive Behavioral Treatment (CBT).
Therefore, people with ADHD may benefit from behavioral methods that promote structure and order.
Conclusion: Best and worst jobs for people with ADHD
Organizational tools are also integral for individuals with ADHD who may struggle with the organization at home or in their workplace.
Calendars, to-do lists, and reminder apps can be helpful tools for staying organized and on top of tasks.
A calendar can help individuals with ADHD keep track of appointments and deadlines, while a to-do list can help them remember tasks and prioritize their work.
Reminder apps can also provide prompts and alerts for important tasks.
In addition to these tools, creating a dedicated workspace that is organized and free from distractions can be helpful. This can help individuals with ADHD stay focused and avoid getting overwhelmed by clutter or disorganization.
Overall, organizational tools can be highly effective in supporting individuals with ADHD in their work and daily life. By using these tools, individuals with ADHD can stay organized, manage their tasks effectively, and reduce stress and anxiety.
In conclusion, while specific jobs may be challenging for individuals with ADHD, there are also many jobs that may be a good fit.
You can find a fulfilling and rewarding career by understanding your strengths and challenges and finding a work environment that supports your needs.
If you’re struggling with ADHD symptoms at work, don’t hesitate to ask for mental health support no matter where you are in the world. With the right strategies and accommodations, you can succeed in the workplace.
Mindful living for a happier, healthier you.
I’m a writer and mental health advocate in Warsaw, Poland, with five years working as a therapist. I hold a psychology degree from the University of Warsaw. I specialize in writing about mental health, using my experiences and academic background to educate and inspire others. In my free time, I volunteer at a Disability Learning Center and go for nature walks. My writing aims to break down mental health stigma and help others feel understood. Social
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