First, keep in mind that you're not alone. Social anxiety disorder (SAD) affects about 15 million people in the U.S. (almost seven percent of the population).1 But over 13 percent of people will experience social anxiety at some point in their lifetimes. It's a condition that ranks as the world's third-largest mental health problem.2 In addition, about 6.8 million Americans are living with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is characterized by too much worrying about many other aspects of everyday life.3
Yet, anxiety is very treatable, especially in the care of a specialist who truly understands social phobia, SAD, generalized anxiety, and how to use methods like cognitive-behavioral therapy to help you.
Plus, the variety of jobs for people with anxiety in social situations is a lot larger than you might think. Working alone is not the only option. Many people with SAD have discovered that, over time, facing their fears in a more socially oriented career actually helps them overcome their anxiety. Combined with professional treatment and a little patience, it can break the cycle of fear.
So explore the following career areas with an open mind. They each offer a number of possible careers for people with anxiety around others. And if you or someone you know is living with GAD, then don't forget to check out the list of 13 jobs for anxiety sufferers of the generalized variety.
(Unless otherwise noted, the yearly salary ranges displayed for each occupation are based on U.S. estimates from 2018.4 Most workers earn incomes close to the middle of their respective wage ranges. But some workers may earn more or less than the salaries being cited.)
Jobs for People with Social Anxiety: 11 Top Career Areas
Imagine getting to use advanced technology every day to make a real difference. The health care sector is full of jobs that involve using sophisticated and fascinating equipment to aid in the proper diagnosis or safe and effective treatment of medical patients. Yes, these jobs do involve some direct interaction with people. But since your focus will be placed heavily on helping patients and expertly using interesting technology, these roles can offer a way of taking the focus away from you while gently building your social confidence. Examples include roles like:
You might be like many others with social anxiety and experience a sense of comfort around animals. So why not pursue a job that lets you work closely with a variety of loveable pets or other creatures every day? In the process, you might just discover that your anxiety starts going away, little by little, until you no longer notice it. Consider roles like:
Why not pursue a career that's all about making other people the center of attention? As a specialist in the beauty industry, your goal is to delight and pamper clients who are happy to be in your presence. And that's the key: You'll know that they've chosen to be there. In fact, the positive feedback they give you can go a long way in helping your brain rewire itself based on real, positive experiences rather than the fear-based scenarios you might normally imagine. Examples in this category include careers such as:
For some people who have social anxiety, working in an artistic capacity can be very beneficial. Engaging your mind in creative tasks is often like escaping to a different world, far away from your day-to-day worries. It's why taking an acting course can, paradoxically, help you overcome the feeling of stage fright around other people. Plus, in many design and arts-related jobs, the amount of social interaction is fairly limited on most days. Some of the best jobs include examples like:
Turn your experience with severe social anxiety into a strength. Think about the power of observation you've probably acquired. And consider how your own challenges have helped make you more sensitive and empathetic to the needs of others. These are valuable traits that can be used in a caring role in which you help people overcome their illnesses, injuries, or physical or mental health disabilities. Plus, they help you see firsthand just how important and respected you are in the eyes of other people. Explore careers such as:
Just like creative careers, many skilled trades enable you to experience a sense of escape or of being "in the zone." And that means you're not focusing so much on your personal anxieties. Instead, your mind is engaged in building things, solving problems, and doing it all safely. So a lot of tradespeople find that they don't feel much social anxiety on the job. Plus, you might get to work outdoors, which can also have a calming effect. Check out roles in the trades like:
This is another category of the skilled trades that offers good possibilities for people with chronic social anxiety. It allows you to place your attention on cars, trucks, or even airplanes, which may be something you have a lot of interest in. Interpersonal interactions are often minimal, leaving you free to concentrate directly on the objects or road in front of you while putting aside your social fears. Consider jobs such as:
A lot of social anxiety sufferers turn to this career sector for good-paying jobs that can often be performed alone, or at least with limited interactions with others. But as they gain professional experience and grow their technological expertise, many of them also end up developing more confidence in their ability to handle a variety of social situations. Their fears of being judged by other people are frequently overcome by the fact that they receive a lot of respect for their skills. Look into roles like:
Although this category certainly includes many jobs that require a lot of social interaction, it also includes options that are often more "behind the scenes" in nature. Consider possibilities like careers in which you get to work with numbers or engage your mind in doing some kind of analysis. Such jobs frequently involve only a little bit of interpersonal communication each day, and not so much that it becomes overwhelming. Think about jobs such as:
It might seem counterintuitive, but making other people happy can sometimes go a long way toward lessening your own social anxiety. And that's why some jobs involving a lot of direct interaction with customers or coworkers can still be suitable for people being treated for SAD. They allow you to focus your anxious energy on ensuring that others feel satisfied with their experiences. Over time, that can change your perception of social situations for the better. Check out careers such as:
Like animals, plants frequently have a soothing effect on people with anxiety. As a result, jobs in this category are known to be some of the most suitable options for those who need to work but feel they can't spend a lot of time engaging with other people on a regular basis. Good examples in this area include careers like:
13 Jobs for People With Anxiety of a Generalized Nature (GAD)
Social anxiety isn't the only type of nervous disorder that can make it hard to have a successful career. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a closely related condition that many current and aspiring professionals cope with on a daily basis. One of the differences is that a lot of people with GAD are able to tolerate (or even thrive in) some social environments. However, they often still need careers that don't involve too many stressful moments, loud noises, distractions, or frequent interruptions.
Along with many of the careers listed above, the following occupations may provide some of the most suitable jobs for anxiety sufferers of the generalized variety. They represent just a few specific examples of career areas that are worth looking into if you have general anxiety.
Many jobs in this high-tech occupation offer relatively little stress and a lot of uninterrupted time to focus on interesting tasks. For example, technicians often get to concentrate on building electronic prototypes, assembling and testing circuitry, and helping engineers design various kinds of devices and computerized equipment. As a result, you can keep your mind busy on your work instead of on your worries.
Providing life-enhancing advice to other people can be a good way to offset or reduce some of your own anxieties. Professional nutritionists and dietitians often get to work in low-stress environments while developing meal plans and helping people manage their diseases or become healthier through better eating habits.
If you've lived with anxiety for a while, then you might have developed a keen power of observation. Your penchant for worry and suspicion can be turned into a positive trait. After all, home inspectors are relied upon to catch hidden structural problems and other issues that may need to be dealt with before people complete the purchase of properties that they want to buy.
Like home inspectors, forensic science technicians need to be good at finding and scrutinizing details that other people might miss. That's why crime scene investigation and criminal laboratory analysis are sometimes good jobs for people with anxiety. This type of work can allow you to channel your nervous tension and strong need to do things right into something truly productive.
Making technical drawings and schematics of buildings or civil construction projects can help you keep your mind focused on things other than your anxieties. Plus, it can be fun since most of today's drafters get to use computer-aided design (CAD) software in order to create their drawings. And many architectural and engineering firms offer relatively quiet work environments.
Another way to channel your anxiety into something useful is to help companies, law firms, or individuals conduct important investigations. For example, many private investigators get to help track down missing persons, perform surveillance, gather legal evidence, check people's backgrounds, and look into computer-related crimes.
Being a wine steward can be a fun and low-stress way to earn a living when you have general anxiety. Among other things, the job involves using your expert knowledge of grape varietals, vineyards, and wineries around the world to recommend suitable wines and food pairings to customers or clients.
If your anxiety makes you extra motivated to do things the right way, then you may be able to succeed in this type of career. And, depending on your client or boss, staying busy with a variety of his or her personal details each day may be less stressful or anxiety-provoking than other jobs that you've had before.
Typical salary range—$25,000 to $79,0005
9. Live Sound Engineer
Even though concerts, theatrical shows, and other live events are full of loud noises, it can actually feel empowering to be the one who gets to control those sounds. Plus, in a lot of cases, you may get to wear headphones and work mostly alone.
Many people in this trade find that fixing and troubleshooting motorcycles can be very meditative and soothing. Since the work requires using your mind as well as your hands, it frequently offers an escape from general feelings of anxiety.
Sometimes, the best jobs for anxiety sufferers are those that allow them to channel their concerns into making sure that they get important details right. That's why becoming a pharmacy technician may be worth looking into. The job involves tasks like measuring appropriate amounts of prescription medications, packaging and labeling those prescriptions, and helping pharmacists perform other essential duties related to dispensing pharmaceuticals to patients and customers.
A lot of massage therapy is performed in relaxing environments such as spas. But even when it's performed in other kinds of settings, massage therapy tends to be a low-stress type of work that has a dampening effect on anxiety. After all, it involves helping people relax, feel less stressed, heal from injury, or reduce their pain.
Physical activity is known to provide relief to many anxiety sufferers. So having a job that keeps you active can be an excellent way to keep your nervousness at bay. Plus, helping other people become stronger, healthier, and more limber and physically fit is very rewarding.
Typical salary range—$20,160 to $76,090
How to Determine Your Next Step
When you get right down to it, almost any job that you have a strong interest in could be suitable for you. Jobs for people with social anxiety or generalized anxiety don't necessarily have to be placed in their own special categories. By finding a way to get professional treatment, you open the door to being able to pursue your real ambitions. Then you won't be letting social or generalized anxiety dictate your life choices or career possibilities. You'll be in charge of your own potential.
So make a commitment to find help. And start exploring the career and educational options you're most enthusiastic about. Use your zip code to begin finding schools with exciting training programs in your area today!