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What Jobs Are Good for Someone with ADHD?

NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) estimates that 4% of the UK's adult population is currently dealing with the effects of ADHD. That's over 2.6 million people - and some scientists think even this figure is conservative.
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What Jobs Are Good for Someone with ADHD?

16/09/2022
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NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) estimates that 4% of the UK’s adult population is currently dealing with the effects of ADHD. That’s over 2.6 million people – and some scientists think even this figure is conservative. The vast majority of these people will need to conduct a job search and find work at some stage in their life. But for many adults with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), finding a job they love and that matches their unique personality can be difficult.

Perhaps you find yourself easily distracted, or you struggle to see one task through before moving to the next; maybe it’s a challenge to maintain productive professional relationships, or you simply get bored and disengage quickly. If you’re wondering how you can find a work environment that suits your ADHD traits, this blog is for you. Firstly, we’ll take a closer look at ADHD symptoms and how they might cause workplace issues. We’ll then move on to discussing some professional qualities that can help people with ADHD thrive, and suggest some jobs that we’ve seen people find enjoyment and success with in the past.

ADHD Symptoms

According to the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th ed.), there are three main types of ADHD: predominantly inattentive ADHD, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive ADHD, or a combined presentation.

It’s important to note, though, that no ADHD diagnosis is the same as the next, in the sense that the condition can affect individuals in very different ways. Consequently, the way ADHD and a job may come together can vary greatly, depending on the specific symptoms, and a further variety of socio-economic factors.

With that said, here are some of the main signs and symptoms of ADHD in adults, as they relate to a person’s professional life:

  • An apparent lack of organisation
  • Seemingly careless habits
  • An inability to complete tasks before starting new ones
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulties with prioritisation and focus
  • A tendency to speak out of turn or interrupt
  • Challenges with stress-management
  • Turbulent moods and/or impatience
  • Unnecessarily risky actions or decisions

Symptoms such as the above can leave many people feeling held back by ADHD, or lead to frustrating consultations with a career counsellor. But it doesn’t need to be this way. Often, a little understanding can go a long way, and professional insight will help people with ADHD seek jobs they’ll love – and that love them. For more on this, take a look at our blog post, ADHD Career Advice Nuggets.

Depending on the individual nature of your ADHD, it may be that your professional rights are protected under the disabilities act. To check if you have an impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your working life, consult The UK Equality Act (2010).

Work that Complements Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

The statistics around ADHD and workplace difficulties are staggering: ADDitude reports that 60% of adults with ADHD have lost or changed a job because of the condition; over a third said they’d had 4+ jobs in the past 10 years, and over 6% had battled through at least 10 different jobs in the past decade.

A lot of this owes to the fact that many conventional job requirements – things such as extended periods of concentration or self-organisation – can present a real challenge for people with ADHD.

However, there are a number of professional qualities that can actually complement the ‘typical’ work style of a person with ADHD. It’s all about understanding your own ADHD, and finding work that dovetails with it effectively.

Though there are certainly no ‘one size fits all’ job solutions for ADHD, we’d recommend searching for work that incorporates at least some of the following elements:

Creative thought

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Work which requires originality of thought, and/or its practical application, can be a perfect match for some people with ADHD. In fact, an unconstrained creative generation can be a real challenge for many neuro-typical people. On the other hand, the artistic, original, expansive or ‘out of the box’ thinking required by some jobs is, sometimes, beautifully matched with the ADHD brain.

Passion

Emotional intensity is something that often comes naturally with adult ADHD. Although in some scenarios this is a hurdle to be overcome, at other times, passion can be the wellspring of positive aspects such as natural motivation, focus, willingness and dedication.

Intensity

Many people struggle to cope with high degrees of urgency or constant deadlines at work, but for those of us with ADHD, these can represent one of the most exciting, rewarding and engaging elements of professional life.

Risk-taking

Though it should be noted that overtly risky behaviour is unlikely to yield professional success in the long-term, some vocations, such as investment banking, emergency room doctors or being a small business owner can take great benefit from a confident, non-risk-averse mentality. You should, however, always keep an eye on risk-taking to make sure you keep it in check and don’t put yourself or others in harm’s way. If you fear risk-taking behaviour may be getting out of hand, book an adult ADHD assessment today.

Fast-paced

Constantly-changing thoughts and high-energy bursts of activity are two of the classic symptoms of ADHD. Consequently, work that involves frequent and fast lane-switching often presents some of the best jobs available for ADHD people.

Clearly structured

Whilst this doesn’t hold true for all people with ADHD, for some, the best job is one where they spend long periods within a clearly-defined work plan. It can be beneficial and pleasurable to work according to specific timeframes, itemised tasks and established routines – there are no complications stemming from irregularities, and no questions over what you should or shouldn’t do.

If you’re searching for a job, but aren’t sure where to begin, our expert and professional ADHD support can help you uncover the best paths to pursue. Our 7 Questions for Finding the Best Career and Job has helped turn many people into happy, successful adults by pointing them in the direction of the right job.

Best Jobs for People with ADHD: Some Examples

We mentioned it earlier, and it bears repeating: ADHD is not a condition that fits neatly into a box. When considering career paths, to approach it with the mentality that ‘this job is good for ADHD, this one is not’ would be unhelpful. Rather, it’s more about finding ‘a job that’s right for my ADHD.’

With that said, in our experience, there are some jobs which people with ADHD tend to naturally gravitate toward, and often find success and fulfilment in. This is by no means an exhaustive list – treat these as just a few examples of the kinds of jobs people with ADHD tend to find professional success in:

Working with food

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Whether it be as a chef, kitchen staff, recipe designer, or even a hygiene and standards inspector, the food industry could be the perfect sector for you to find professional joy in. Cooking requires an often-intense focus on the task at hand, but doesn’t necessarily need you to be constantly forward-planning in the long term. Working with food may also involve unusual hours, with irregular pacing, which many people with ADHD find stimulating.

Working with children

Children can be unpredictable, messy, energetic and curious – this could be a person with ADHD’s ideal working environment! Teacher, daycare worker, teaching assistant, special education teacher, social worker, and even higher education roles such as an assistant professor, all lend themselves to some of the most common presentations of ADHD. They require dynamism, original thinking, quick changes of pace and thoughtfulness – be aware, though, that kids may test your patience at times, so it’s a good idea to train yourself in some management techniques.

Writing

Putting words to work as a career choice is another good option for people with ADHD. As a journalist, copywriter or editor, you’ll need to cover a broad range of topics on a daily basis, and you may be required to move locations at the drop of a hat – perfect for someone with a lot of energy and creativity. Just be aware that perpetually working to a hard deadline could be a source of stress.

The arts or design

People with ADHD often experience incredible bursts of unbridled creativity. For many neurotypical people, an atmosphere of creative chaos can be impossible to perform in – but it may be that you are perfectly suited to this kind of environment, either as an artist, or perhaps as a choreographer, performer, or musician.

Healthcare or health emergencies

Although getting through medical school is notoriously difficult, working with people’s various health conditions might be a rewarding job that you excel at. Perhaps your caring and sympathetic personality makes you a great candidate to be a nurse; or, your tendency to hyperfocus means you’d make an outstanding dental assistant. Then again, your ability to perform with urgency and confidence means you could be an effective emergency responder. Conversely, beauticians, cosmetologists, aestheticians and stylists are always meeting new people, and jumping between a number of short-focus tasks quickly and energetically.

An entrepreneur

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Starting your own business could be the perfect blend of pressure, flexibility, responsibility and passion to allow your ADHD to shine. Being the captain of the ship, so to speak, is one way to make work more meaningful; plus, your day-to-day is likely to vary greatly, which will help to alleviate restlessness.

Working with ADHD, Your Mental Health, and You

So, what jobs are good for people with ADHD? As we’ve seen, there’s no one golden answer to this question, and much depends on your individual personality and situation. Answering the question is as much about finding effective, rewarding and enjoyable ways to work with your ADHD symptoms, as it is trawling through job listings until you find ‘a good job’.

Ultimately, you know yourself best. Think about your passions and your strengths, the things you find difficult, the ways your ADHD tends to manifest itself, and don’t be afraid to try new things. There’s a perfect job out there for everyone, and work can be a significant component of positive mental health; the secret is finding a job that truly complements your individuality.

But, if you find ADHD is causing you or a loved one repeated and continuous problems at work or at home, and you’re struggling to cope with its effects, The ADHD Centre is here for you. We use a combination of medication, coaching, stress-management, mindfulness and wellbeing training to help adults deal with ADHD and manage the symptoms effectively.

Get in touch now on 0800 061 4276 to find out more, or book an adult ADHD assessment, available online or face-to-face.

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