The Best Jobs for People With ADHD

Teenager studying with professor while sitting in classroom

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Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common mental health disorder that affects children and adults. While ADHD can be managed with proper treatment and care, symptoms don’t just go away on their own, and this can prove challenging when it comes to finding and maintaining the right job. 

ADHD can make it hard to function in the workplace. Depending on your diagnosis and the severity of your disorder, you may find it challenging to stay focused, complete tasks, maintain interest, or meet deadlines. You may also struggle with boredom, affecting your work performance and your overall health and well-being.

If ADHD is getting in the way of your success, it’s time to reconsider your career path. To thrive at work, you want to find a job that matches your skills, interests, and talents. 

Find a Job You Love

The biggest challenge isn’t necessarily managing your symptoms, though this can prove difficult, but rather maintaining interest in the work you’re doing.

If you take a job as a dental assistant but you have zero interest in dentistry, you’re going to struggle with seemingly easy tasks. This is why you need to find a job that interests you. 

"If pointed in the right direction, ADHD can be a superpower," says Billy Roberts, LISW-S, a therapist at Focused Mind ADHD Counseling.

An online career assessment can offer you some ideas, but it’s important to take some time for self-reflection. So, grab a notebook or journal and think about and answer the following questions:

  • What topics can you spend hours researching or talking about?
  • If you could spend your weekend doing anything, what would you do?
  • What tasks do you find boring or unfulfilling?
  • Do you find it challenging working in a team environment?
  • Do you enjoy taking charge?
  • What are your biggest pet peeves?
  • Do you enjoy the thrill of fast-paced environments?
  • What activities feel draining to you? What activities excite you?
  • If money weren’t a factor, what job would you love to do?

Billy Roberts, LISW-S

To find the best job for your unique ADHD brain, you need to figure out what lights your fire.

— Billy Roberts, LISW-S

A study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders found that those with ADHD reported more real-world creative achievements than those without ADHD, but also revealed that adults with ADHD are selective with their output, choosing creative tasks and environments that fit their skills and preferences.

Best Occupations for People with ADHD

Because of their unique ability to solve problems and create systems when interested in their work, Roberts says many people with ADHD do well as entrepreneurs, computer programmers, and within creative industries. 

People with ADHD would do well in the following roles, too:

  • Sales representative 
  • Small business owner 
  • Hospitality worker
  • Chef 
  • Teacher
  • Emergency first responder
  • Computer technician 
  • Artist or writer 
  • Engineer
  • Athlete

You can do any job you want, but often individuals with ADHD do well with flexible or non-traditional schedules. They also tend to be calm under pressure and thrive in fast-paced environments, such as classrooms, hospitals, or restaurants.

How to Stay Motivated 

A recent study on ADHD at the workplace found that between 55% and 69% of individuals with ADHD reported impairments in getting work done efficiently and working to their full potential. The same study found that between 20% and 23% of individuals with ADHD reported impairments in getting fired from work and problems with attendance.

No matter what job you take, you’re bound to experience some cognitive difficulties:

  • You may forget important details from a conversation, even if you did your best to listen actively
  • Checking emails may overwhelm you at times
  • Essential tasks may feel impossible to finish
  • You may show up consistently late, even if you set an early alarm
  • You may feel unproductive, even if you’re working longer hours than your coworkers

None of these things make you a bad employee. These are simply challenges. 

Here’s what you can do to maintain your motivation, avoid boredom, and stay productive, regardless of what job you do:

Maximize Your Energy

Because individuals [with ADHD] can laser focus on a task for hours, they are capable of massive bursts of creativity, which they can lean on for larger creative projects,” says Roberts. 

There may be moments when everything feels like a struggle. There may be other moments when you feel extremely energized and want to accomplish every item on your to-do list.

When these moments hit, take full advantage of them. And if there’s a specific time of the day when you feel most motivated, try and work your schedule around that. If you work best at night, for instance, you may want to work the night shift.

Build a Routine

Motivation may never come, so you want to build a simple routine. This is often difficult for individuals with ADHD, says Kojo Sarfo, DNP, PMHNP-BC, but it can help you get started and follow through on specific tasks, even if they’re boring.

You could choose to exercise at the same time each morning or complete the most comprehensive work tasks first, just in case you get sidetracked. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to avoid distractions.

One problem often faced by individuals with ADHD is hyper-focusing on tasks that aren't beneficial in the moment, Dr. Kojo explains, which is why it's important to set a routine.  

Take Breaks

ADHD affects your brain chemistry and sustaining attention and focus for long periods of time can be difficult, Roberts says, so you may need to take more breaks to regenerate your energy. How long you should work or break depends on the person.

You may fade or become distracted after 45 minutes or an hour of working, says Roberts. If this is the case, try setting your alarm and allocating that set amount of time to a specific task. When the alarm goes off, give yourself a break. Go for a walk, make a snack, or call a friend. 

Running at full speed 24/7 will lead to burnout, so give yourself breaks and take advantage of mental health days.

Set Goals and Expectations

In the workplace, adults with ADHD tend to be motivated by specific goals and outcomes, such as monetary rewards or beating an opponent. They may also perform better and feel more confident when their diagnosis is known and they are supported by their employer.

If you feel comfortable, let your manager know about your ADHD and see what adjustments or changes can be made to ensure you stay productive and on task. Make sure you discuss expectations and goals, as well. Find out what promotional and growth opportunities exist. 

If you work for yourself, you need to set your own expectations. Use SMART goals to build a plan that is both flexible and achievable. 

A Word From Verywell

Individuals with ADHD may become easily bored, unfocused, or unmotivated in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work hard. In fact, individuals with ADHD can become workaholics.

You may be highly motivated to do certain things and complete a lot of tasks that you’re interested in, says Dr. Kojo, causing you to run out of energy. This type of energy can be translated to the work environment where you may overwork yourself. 

It’s important to find a job that you love. Dr. Kojo recommends scheduling rest times, practicing positive self-talk, and exercising. These strategies can keep you motivated and prevent you from burnout.

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6 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.
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