Social Anxiety Disorder Work and School 8 Best Jobs for People With Social Anxiety Disorder By Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." Learn about our editorial process Updated on July 15, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS Medically reviewed by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Finding a job that you enjoy and feel comfortable doing can be challenging for anyone. However, for those living with social anxiety disorder (SAD), a condition characterized by an intense fear of being watched and judged by others, this task can feel overwhelming. Not only does the job have to fit your interests and skillset, but it also shouldn't exacerbate your SAD symptoms. Verywell / Alexandra Gordon Working With Social Anxiety Disorder SAD can affect your performance at work as well as your relationships with your colleagues and supervisors. This can translate into problems at work, such as: Decreased performance and reduced productivity: When you have SAD, you're constantly battling your negative thoughts. Because you can’t focus on your priorities, you may end up procrastinating or missing deadlines. Your social fears may also prevent you from asking for help when you need it.Increased absences: People with SAD often report taking more days off work to avoid anxiety-triggering situations.Missed opportunities: You might feel the need to turn down job offers or promotions that involve traveling to new places or giving presentations. Managing Social Anxiety Disorder at Work The Right Kind of Job Often your choice of job is dictated by how far along you are in terms of diagnosis and treatment. Being able to manage your SAD symptoms can better equip you for jobs that are socially demanding. At the same time, even after you've learned how to cope, you may realize you are better suited to particular types of jobs. Some people with SAD are extroverts and still crave the company of others even though they are fearful. If this is you, a job with more social interaction might be more appropriate. Others may be more comfortable in low-stress positions with limited social demands. Your anxiety won't improve if you isolate yourself. While you don't have to be the center of attention, occasionally interacting with people will boost your confidence in social environments. Flexible roles that encourage you to interact with others from time to time tend to work best. While each person will have their own interests and skillsets, there are jobs for people with SAD that will better suit their needs. Jobs That Aren't a Good Fit for People With SAD 1 Writer Writing is a dream job for many. Unfortunately, it can be a hard profession to enter and may take a while before you start earning a living wage. However, once you become established, it is possible to earn a living as a freelance writer. Whether you want to write novels, advice columns, or technical manuals, get your start with a job that allows you to gain experience, such as working as a technical writer or copywriter. Then, as you build confidence, you can take on freelance work and possibly even become a published author. Socially anxious writers may enjoy working alone. However, it would be best to challenge yourself by networking with other writers through professional associations and conferences. This will give you a chance to polish your social skills and expose yourself to those situations that cause you anxiety. If you find you are doing well, you might even volunteer to lead a presentation or help out on an advisory board. 2 Artist An artist is another job that might be appealing if you live with social anxiety. However, earning a living as an artist can be a difficult pursuit. As an artist, you may need to take on a day job to support yourself while you make art on the side. If you have a passion for this type of work, think about related jobs that might give you the same creative outlet and ability to work alone some of the time. Graphic design might be an option that gives you the opportunity to support yourself as an artist. As a socially anxious artist, you may enjoy time spent alone on your work. However, you should also consider challenging yourself by attending or presenting at art exhibits. Communicating with clients and networking with other artists is a key part of continuously challenging your anxiety in the field of art. 3 Animal Care or Training A dog trainer is one example of a job working with animals that might be appealing if you live with SAD. Other possibilities include: Kennel operator or caretakerPet groomerAnimal rescue workerVeterinary technicianZookeeper If you enjoy working with animals, these can be rewarding positions requiring some social interaction and giving you space to work quietly and independently. You may also enjoy the reciprocal affection that animals often provide. Keep challenging your social anxiety in these positions by interacting with clients and other animal care professionals. 4 Accountant Accountants manage bookkeeping and financial details for businesses and individuals. If you excel at math and enjoy working with numbers, being an accountant can give you the opportunity to work independently. Whether you work for a company or as a private accountant, there will be some level of interaction required with others. Focus on your abilities and be confident in your work, and your comfort level with this aspect of the job will increase. Becoming an accountant can be a good way to challenge some of your social fears gradually. Meetings with clients can work on your social skills, and attendance at networking events will help you challenge your social fears. Social Anxiety Hierarchies 5 Landscaper Landscapers can work for landscaping companies, golf courses, or as private entrepreneurs. Landscaping can give you the freedom to spend your day alone and outdoors. These jobs are excellent if you are not happy working in an office environment. If you decide to run your own landscaping company, you will need to become adept at communicating with customers. In this way, landscaping can afford you the opportunity to challenge your fears while having the security of "downtime" on the job. Challenge your social fears in these positions by interacting with customers, other landscape professionals, and possibly even your own employees. You can also attend trade shows to practice your social skills. 6 Entrepreneur As an entrepreneur or business owner, you will work for yourself, set your own schedule, and be responsible for your own success. The advantage of being an entrepreneur as a person with SAD is that you have complete control over what you do. It's also easy to see how many other professions on this list can be combined with entrepreneurship. Although you will interact with customers or deal with suppliers as a business owner, you will not have a supervisor watching over you. You can also hire other people to do jobs that you don't enjoy. Just be sure that you don't hire out all of your social obligations. Instead, challenge yourself to face social and performance situations that you find anxiety-provoking by starting small and moving to more difficult tasks. 7 Computer Programmer To work as a computer programmer, you must be detail-oriented, enjoy solving problems, and focus for long periods of time. While there will be some degree of social interaction required of you as a programmer, employees in these positions are generally valued for their analytical skills rather than their communication skills. If you like computers and don't mind sitting for long periods of time, this can be a good job that allows you to work independently. However, be sure to challenge your social anxiety by talking with coworkers and taking on projects that require increasingly more interaction. 8 Counselor Counselor or therapist might not be the first job you think of if you have SAD. You may be worried about speaking with clients at length. But your ability to empathize with their situations makes this an ideal job. You understand what your clients are experiencing, you are a good listener, and you likely have a communication style that others with SAD will not find threatening. If you have received treatment and overcome your SAD, you are in a perfect position to help others. In addition, this position will give you unique insight into your own struggles at the same time. A Word From Verywell What do all of these jobs have in common? In some ways, they resemble the fear hierarchies used in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for social anxiety. These jobs allow you to face your fear of social interaction in a way that doesn't overwhelm you. With these jobs, you can face the social interactions you fear the least and gradually moving toward more challenging situations. In the end, only you know what the right job is for you. But, of course, the best job is one that allows you to pursue your dreams without triggering or worsening your anxiety symptoms. If you think you have SAD, the most important question to ask yourself is whether it's preventing you from achieving your goals. If the answer is yes, then you might consider contacting a mental health professional. Remember that anxiety can be managed and treated, just like any other medical condition. 4 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. National Institute of Mental Health. Social anxiety disorder: More than just shyness. Kessler RC. The impairments caused by social phobia in the general population: Implications for intervention. Acta Psychiatr Scand Suppl. 2003;(417):19-27. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0447.108.s417.2.x Stein MB, Torgrud LJ, Walker JR. Social phobia symptoms, subtypes, and severity: Findings from a community survey. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2000;57(11):1046-1052. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.57.11.1046 Tibi-Elhanany Y, Shamay-Tsoory SG. Social cognition in social anxiety: First evidence for increased empathic abilities. Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci. 2011;48(2):98-106. Additional Reading Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Anxiety and stress in the workplace. By Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? 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