18 Good Jobs for People With ADHD Based on Their Unique Strengths
Jobs for people with ADHD are surprisingly plentiful. After all, having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is often a sign that you possess some very valuable traits. In fact, you probably have natural talents and personality characteristics that many employers actively seek in potential new hires. So, whether you realize it or not, your adult ADHD may actually contribute to your future success.
Does that seem a little odd? Well, it shouldn't. Here's why: Most of humanity's greatest achievements have been the direct result of contributions by people who didn't fit the prevailing idea of what was "normal." It's people like you—people with special abilities because of their differences—who move society forward. And, thankfully, more and more of today's employers are recognizing the truth of that statement. They need your special talents.
So take heart in what many of the world's most famous and successful people have already discovered: ADHD often comes with sought-after strengths. For example, consider the talents and achievements of celebrities like Simone Biles, Ryan Gosling, Emma Watson, Jim Carrey, Lisa Ling, David Blaine, Richard Branson, Michael Phelps, Zooey Deschanel, and Adam Levine. They—along with many, many other highly successful people—have all reportedly been diagnosed with ADHD. But they would all probably credit their ADHD for helping to give them powerful traits such as:
- Enhanced creativity and imagination
- Greater resilience
- Compassion and empathy
- Greater problem-solving abilities
- Talents for multitasking
- The willingness to help or mentor others
- An enhanced capacity for leadership
- Positive, people-oriented interpersonal skills
- Greater adaptability
- Higher energy
Here's the bottom line: There are plenty of awesome careers for people with ADHD. You just have to know how to identify your strengths and where to look. This article is designed to help you do exactly that. Start by checking out the following sections:
- How to pinpoint your unique strengths and work preferences
- 18 top careers for people with ADHD
- Career advice for people with ADHD: How to keep the job you love
How to Pinpoint Your Unique Strengths & Work Preferences
First, remember that you're not alone. About 4.4 percent of American adults between the ages of 18 and 44 experience ADHD symptoms.* That translates to more than 4.6 million adults in the U.S. who are living and working with ADHD. A lot of those people have built satisfying careers. And you can too.
Of course, there isn't just one perfect career path that's suitable for every ADHD-diagnosed adult. Everyone experiences ADHD a little differently. Yet, consider this point: ADHD and ADD are considered to be essentially the same condition, except in clinical settings. So some of the best jobs for people with ADD may also be jobs that work well for certain people with ADHD.
Additionally, you'll want to consider any co-occurring disorders that you may have. For instance, roughly 25 to 40 percent of adults who've been diagnosed with ADHD also experience an anxiety disorder. And some of them get treated for depression or sleep problems.** But don't let that deter you. As with ADHD, it's more than possible to find good jobs for people with anxiety or other challenges.
So, how can you start determining what your natural talents are or what areas you might excel in? It's helpful to begin by answering the following questions:
- What do you do well?
- What are your favorite activities?
- What would you like to get better at?
- What do people who are close to you say your strengths are?
- What is your proudest work-related achievement?
- What areas have you already improved in?
- What areas do you feel like you are not able to improve in, no matter how hard you try?
- What do you dislike or find boring?
- How would you describe an ideal coworker?
- What kind of company culture would suit you best?
Sitting down and answering these questions can help you uncover what type of worker you are and what kind of workplace might be a good fit for you. As you consider these factors, you may want to know that, in general, the best work environments for people with ADHD tend to:
- Be fast-paced
- Have a high level of interaction
- Offer variety in daily routines
- Have ample problem-solving opportunities
- Encourage creativity
- Provide broadly focused jobs that draw upon knowledge from many areas
18 Top Careers for People With ADHD
We've uncovered nine career sectors that offer potentially good jobs for people with ADHD. Keep reading in order to learn more about them. Or look into the areas that interest you most:
Also, check out some tips for success that can help you excel in your career!
(The annual salary ranges that are cited are based on 2015 data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.*** And projected job growth is for the 2014-to-2024 period.****)
The beauty industry can provide some great opportunities for adults with ADHD. Just think about it: You work with people, so you have lots of interaction. Your appointments tend to be short, so you don't need to focus on one task for long periods of time. You tend to be busy—often on your feet—which can help you feel less restless. And you can have opportunities to express your creativity. If all of that sounds good, then check out two different jobs that might be appealing:
Spend anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours with your clients as you help them achieve the looks that they desire. Most cosmetologists focus on offering hair services, but some branch out and offer other beauty treatments like skin care services or manicures.
- Annual salary range—$17,620 to $47,410 or more
- Projected job growth—10 percent
Give people perfect manicures and pedicures that can help them look and feel great. Shaping nails, trimming cuticles, massaging hands and feet, and applying acrylic or gel nails are just a few of the activities that could fill your days. And with the growing interest in nail art, you could have opportunities to use your creative talents.
- Annual salary range—$18,260 to $33,940 or more
- Projected job growth—10 percent
Business is a broad field that covers many different industries and sectors. As a result, you can find a lot of business-related jobs that require you to have a diverse skill set. The variety can help keep your job interesting since you are drawing upon knowledge from different areas. You may also find yourself thinking creatively and critically in order to solve problems and overcome challenges. Plus, although many people picture business professionals sitting behind desks all day long, that is not always the case. There are a lot of jobs that keep you moving and connecting with people. Take a look at a couple of these positions below:
Enter the captivating field of marketing and come up with creative ideas to help companies increase consumer interest in their brands, products, and services in order to increase profits. One day you could be developing marketing strategies and managing social media accounts, and the next day you could be developing product brochures and setting up events.
- Annual salary range—$33,530 to $120,460 or more
- Projected job growth—19 percent
4. Sales representative
Enjoy a job in which success depends on your ability to communicate and work with other people. Selling a company's products or services can have you on the go attending trade shows and events, meeting all kinds of interesting people, and wining and dining clients. You get to use your natural energy to your advantage, and sales reps often work independently and set their own pace.
- Annual salary range—$24,720 to $113,570 or more
- Projected job growth—5 percent
Many people diagnosed with ADHD are known to be highly creative. In fact, they are often described as dreamers or visionaries. So, naturally, art and design jobs can be beneficial. Your fresh ideas and unique perspective could help you succeed in your career. And pursuing a creative career can mean avoiding a traditional office setting. You may even be able to have flexible hours that enable you to tailor your schedule to suit the times of the day when you produce your best work. So are you feeling excited about the possibilities? Check out some of these career options:
Focus your energy on an occupation that rewards imagination and vision. You get to use your artistic talents in order to communicate ideas through print and online media. You could be responsible for designing everything from logos and brochures to trade show booths and web pages. Your work could help a company promote its brand, attract new customers, increase sales, raise awareness of important issues, and achieve other business goals.
- Annual salary range—$27,560 to $81,320 or more
- Projected job growth—1 percent (3,600 new jobs)
Can you picture describing your job as imaginative, lively, and interesting? That's exactly what could happen when you work as a journalist. Working in this field means having no day that is ever the same, getting to cover any number of topics, and interacting with all kinds of people from different backgrounds. Additionally, journalists often get to set their own hours and work from wherever they choose. And they typically have shorter deadlines, which means that you don't spend a long time working on one project.
- Annual salary range—$21,390 to $81,580 or more
- Projected job growth—27 percent in the motion picture, video, and sound recording industries; 20 percent in the educational services sector; 13 percent in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector; 12 percent in the broadcasting industries (except Internet)
Many careers in the culinary arts require high levels of energy, and they often let you focus on short tasks without the need for a lot of long-term planning. And with lots of people to interact with, you could also enjoy the excitement that can come with a fast-paced culinary career. Additionally, the option for flexible hours could enable you to come up with a schedule that matches your most productive and focused times of the day. Here are a couple of career possibilities that could suit you well:
Use your natural talents to produce visually stimulating and equally delicious dishes that keep your customers coming back for more. Rush is a term you will hear regularly in a professional kitchen, and it refers to a rush of customers during peak periods. This up-and-down flow in a restaurant can work well for an adult with ADHD since it provides you with an opportunity to put your energy surges to good use. And the rush is followed by downtime, which gives you variety in your job since you get to focus on other areas of the kitchen, such as cleaning and food prep.
- Annual salary range—$23,150 to $74,170 or more
- Projected job growth—9 percent
Put your abundance of energy to work in a position that keeps you on your toes. As a restaurant manager, you are constantly interacting with staff and the public. Over the course of just 10 minutes, you could be helping the kitchen resolve a problem, assisting the bartender with making drinks, helping a server get caught up with her tables, answering phones, and seating guests. And when the restaurant is not busy, you could be spending your time hiring, scheduling, ordering, making bank deposits, and handling all of the other tasks that help keep a restaurant running smoothly.
- Annual salary range—$28,780 to $83,010 or more
- Projected job growth—5 percent
A lot of people with ADHD overlook education as a good career field, but it could be a great fit. Just consider these points: As a teacher, you need to have knowledge of broad subject areas. You spend quite a bit of time moving around on your feet. You have many opportunities to use your imagination. And you typically spend short amounts of time on a task or subject before transitioning to something else. And you get to enjoy the fulfillment that can come from engaging young learners. Check out these two education jobs that could be appropriate for you:
Imagine working with people who are as full of a sense of wonder, imagination, and energy as you are. That's exactly what can happen when you work with young children as an early childhood educator. You could find a job within a daycare center or preschool where you help children develop socially, physically, and mentally. Having a hand in helping children reach their milestones can provide a great sense of pride in your job.
- Annual salary range—$16,900 to $30,750 or more
- Projected job growth—5 percent
Share your knowledge of a wide range of subjects, and ignite the imaginations of children in kindergarten, elementary, or secondary school. When determining the grade level that you would like to teach, keep in mind that kindergarten and elementary classes tend to be more active and lively, and they move from subject to subject more quickly than high school classes do. So this factor may be an important consideration for you, depending on the type of ADHD symptoms that you experience.
- Annual salary range—$33,940 to $91,190 or more
- Projected job growth—6 percent
Many jobs in healthcare require a broad view and focus. You may need to draw on knowledge from many different areas in order to solve any number of problems or challenges. And due to the faster pace of some healthcare jobs, as well as ongoing medical and technological advances, positions are always evolving, and you can often find yourself acquiring new knowledge and skills. The healthcare field could provide you with an engaging job that keeps you moving, so it is less likely that you will find yourself losing focus and becoming bored.
Take on a fast-paced position that provides you with little time to become bored or bogged down with monotonous routines. Nurses often stay quite busy and take care of numerous patient-care activities that change with every shift. With as little as two years or less of schooling, you could become a licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN/LVN). And with approximately one to two more years of schooling, you could become a registered nurse (RN).
- Annual salary range—$32,040 to $101,630 or more
- Projected job growth—16 percent
Imagine a job in which your ADHD aids you in taking actions that can help save lives. That could be the case if you work as a paramedic or EMT (emergency medical technician). The adrenaline-pumping and sometimes chaotic work environment can be great for a person with ADHD because the energy and excitement allows you to focus, solve problems, and take care of the critical tasks at hand.
- Annual salary range—$20,860 to $55,110 or more
- Projected job growth—24 percent
The legal and criminal justice field offers interesting and stimulating jobs that can fit your ADHD symptoms quite well. The quick-moving and fast-changing work can be a great fit. There are career paths that offer little chance for boredom and provide lots of opportunities for problem solving. It is important to note that some adults with ADHD report that the entrance and training requirements can be challenging, but once they meet the requirements and complete their training, they are quite successful within jobs that they love. Below are two occupations you might consider:
13. Police officer
Working as a police officer can mean staying busy and active in a job that is constantly changing. Every day is different, and you can be involved in countless law enforcement activities that keep you stimulated and fulfilled. And since police officers work around the clock, you could find quite a bit of variability and flexibility in your work schedule.
- Annual salary range—$33,430 to $96,110 or more
- Projected job growth—4 percent
Becoming a private investigator or detective can lead you to engaging work in which you investigate financial, legal, or personal details for private clients. These could be individuals or businesses. The varied work that you are involved in could include collecting evidence, performing background checks, helping to find missing persons, and carrying out surveillance. And you may be able to work independently and set your own hours.
- Annual salary range—$26,920 to $85,190 or more
- Projected job growth—5 percent
Jobs in the skilled trades can require you to draw upon a vast amount of practical and technical knowledge. You often get to work with your hands, communicate with all kinds of different people, solve any number of complex problems, and enjoy a wide variety of tasks to accomplish. You also typically have end goals that you are working toward, and achieving those goals can lead to improved confidence and satisfaction. Take a look at these jobs that may appeal to you:
15. Auto mechanic
As an auto mechanic, you often get a variety of challenges that change with each workday. You will likely solve problems on a regular basis and get to work with your hands, using both manual and technological tools. You may also enjoy the interaction with other mechanics and workers in your shop, as well as with the customers whose vehicles you are working on.
- Annual salary range—$21,020 to $63,330 or more
- Projected job growth—5 percent
16. Truck driver
A truck-driving career is one of structure. You receive very clear directives that involve traveling from point A to point B. You get to spend independent time cruising on the road. And loading, unloading, and preparing your truck for trips gives you the opportunity to move around and release your energy. Plus, it is likely that you will also be responsible for performing light maintenance work on your truck, which adds even more variety to your job.
- Annual salary range—$26,240 to $62,010 or more
- Projected job growth—5 percent
Technology careers can be a great choice for those who experience hyper-focus. Being able to intently focus on something for possibly hours at a time—without being distracted—can be of great benefit in a tech career that requires coding, as one example. But tech careers aren't just for the hyper-focused. Other jobs require you to move from task to task quickly, so you are able to shift focus and avoid the possibility of becoming bored. Whichever kind of tech career appeals to you, the sector generally offers opportunities for a lot of diverse problem solving, independent work (while still getting to interact with others), and flexible scheduling outside of a typical office environment. Check out two IT careers that could be a fit:
Assume an IT role in which you support an organization's computer and/or network systems. Tapping into a vast knowledge base, you could be responsible for testing, maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing networks and computer software and equipment. You may be responsible for taking care of a large network, or you may be providing one-on-one user support.
- Annual salary range—$28,990 to $106,310 or more
- Projected job growth—12 percent
Become a key IT contact by learning how to take care of all aspects of an organization's computer network. From designing to repairing, you could find yourself engaged in a wide range of IT tasks. And many of today's network professionals are acquiring skills in cloud computing, which is an area that is experiencing large growth. Learning about sophisticated and fascinating technology can help keep you deeply interested in your work.
- Annual salary range—$47,460 to $124,090 or more
- Projected job growth—8 percent
Career Advice for People With ADHD: How to Keep the Job You Love
Many experts say that getting on the right medication is the most critical factor when it comes to succeeding in a career if you have ADHD. While this is important, there are additional strategies that you can implement in order to be more effective at work. As discussed above, picking a job that is a good fit for you is also important. Boredom can be a problem for people experiencing ADHD, so finding a job that keeps you interested and engaged could help you retain your focus at work. Once you have found that job, these 11 additional tips could help you enjoy your work and achieve success with more ease:
1. Clearly assess your strengths and weaknesses. This can not only help you pick a job that is a better fit for you, but also help you customize your work environment so that you can work more effectively. For example, if sitting at your desk for long periods makes you too restless, then consider approaching your boss about getting a standing desk.
2. Minimize external distractions. Do you have a time of day that you are able to focus better? Are you more focused when things are quiet? If you are able to have some flexibility in your scheduling, then talk to your boss and see if you can adjust your hours so that you are working during your best times or when the office is quieter. You can also minimize the potential for interruptions by setting times when you let your phone go to voicemail, reducing the clutter on your desk, turning your desk toward a wall rather than the door, and letting your coworkers know that if your door is closed, it means that you do not want to be interrupted.
3. Minimize internal distractions. Sometimes good ideas will pop into your head that are not related to the task that you are working on. Instead of spending your time thinking about them, quickly jot them down for later review and then move on.
4. Implement a planning system. Organize and manage everything that you need to do in a given day. This includes phone calls that you need to make, emails that you need to send, meetings that you need to attend, and projects and reports that you need to work on. Prioritize these activities and then spend your day working from your list. Only vary from it if something comes up that is truly urgent. Keeping your day structured can be the key to staying on task.
5. Create checklists for tasks that have many steps. If you are working through a task or project that has many steps to it, then create a quick checklist that you can use as you go. It can help you stay focused and ensure that you are not missing important steps.
6. Track your time. If one of your symptoms is hyper-focus, then you may have trouble completing your work in a timely fashion because you get too involved in it and lose track of time. Try setting alarms or reminders on your computer that pop up to keep you aware of how much time you are spending and when you should be moving on to something else.
7. Get moving. If hyperactivity is one of your symptoms, then take every opportunity that you possibly can to move. Walk around while you talk on the phone, walk to your coworker's or boss' office when you need to talk to them, take a break from your desk every hour to walk around, or even spend five minutes doing some quick, simple exercises at your desk.
8. Give yourself extra time. Whether it's getting to work, going to appointments, or scheduling meetings, always give yourself extra time, if possible. And when you are getting ready to go, avoid the impulse to do one more thing. Write it down for later and get on your way. This can help you arrive for work, appointments, and meetings on time.
9. Avoid procrastination. Stop waiting for the right moment; just dive in and get started. And avoid negative self-talk. Think positively instead. Post inspirational and positive messages around your work area. Instead of thinking, "I am never going to get this done today," think, "I have two hours to get halfway through this project." Focus on one step at a time so that you don't get overwhelmed by the project as a whole.
10. Keep your desk and office organized. Having a cluttered or disorganized work environment can lead to distraction. So if you are done with something, then don't save it. Either shred or file items as you go. Always have file folders and labels ready. And keep a three-hole punch and binders handy for items that don't fit into file folders.
11. Let your boss and coworkers know that you have been diagnosed with ADHD. Many people think that it is best to avoid this discussion, but in most cases, it can be beneficial for you to discuss it. By acknowledging it, your boss and coworkers can offer you support and may even assist you with developing creative solutions that help make you more successful in your job. And by making your employer aware of your condition, you are protecting yourself legally. The American Disabilities Act covers people with ADHD, so you are legally protected from workplace discrimination related to your condition.
Let Your Inspiration Guide You
Are you feeling inspired to go after a career that you will love? You can succeed in any career as long as it interests you and falls in line with your strengths. So act on that motivation right now and see what types of programs are offered in your area. Just enter your zip code into the school finder below to make your first move toward attaining one of the great jobs for people with ADHD!
* National Institute of Mental Health, "Harvard Study Suggests Significant Prevalence of ADHD Symptoms Among Adults," website last visited on May 9, 2016.
** ADHD Awareness Month, "7 Facts You Need to Know About ADHD," website last visited on May 9, 2016.
*** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on May 9, 2016.
**** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, website last visited on May 9, 2016.