ADHD-Friendly Jobs

Quit It! The 10 Worst Jobs for Restless Minds and Creative Spirits

Tedious, repetitive work is like Kryptonite for ADHD brains. Throw in some senseless deadlines, mindless filing, and persistent distractions, and you’ve got a living, breathing “Office Space.” Here are 10 jobs to avoid at all costs.

A group of people with ADHD in different occupations and jobs
A group of people with ADHD in different occupations and jobs
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The Worst. Ever.

Adults with ADHD excel at many things. Tedious, repetitive organizational tasks just aren't among them. When we asked ADDitude readers to share the most damaging job attributes for adults with ADHD, here is what they said:

  • (39% ) Please, don't give me repetitive, mindless work!
  • (18% ) One that requires me to stick to strict deadlines and schedules.
  • (14% ) An office, or other job that keeps me isolated is the worst.
  • (12% ) If e-mailing and paperwork are heavy components, I get overwhelmed.
  • (11% ) Are numbers involved? If it involves math, count me out!
  • (5% ) Any career that relies heavily on strong reading, writing, or speaking skills.
Lawyer with ADHD speaking to courtroom
Lawyer with ADHD speaking to courtroom
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1. Attorney or Legal Clerk

Television dramas may lead you to believe otherwise, but a lawyer's day is largely spent analyzing the minutiae in an unending stream of boring documents. Whether drawing up wills and contracts or preparing evidence for a trial, an attorney's (and legal clerk's) job requires unwavering attention to detail. Adults with ADHD can find themselves easily distracted or restless, and making careless mistakes when their attention to detail fails — a big problem when it comes to binding legal agreements.

A Different Perspective: "I'm an attorney with ADHD. Figuring out a case is like solving a puzzle. I love digging through the minutiae to try to find my winning argument. I just suck at keeping my files organized and have lots of paper stacked all over the place." – Rachel F.

An executive with ADHD stares out a window at work
ADHD at Work: 10 Sanity-Saving Strategies for the ADHD Executive
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2. Executive Assistant

The best executive assistant anticipates her boss's needs before he says a thing. She books travel, organizes seamless itineraries, and juggles commitments and logistics to make sure not a minute is wasted—and she rarely gets the credit she deserves. It's a difficult and sometimes thankless job that requires incredible organization and time-management skills.

A Different Perspective: "The only thing that matters when you have ADHD is that you are doing something you are actually interested in. It doesn't matter what the job is — if you don't have an interest in it, your focus will be shot. If you love the job, you'll do and learn as much as you can!" – Alexia L.

[Free Download: 8 Dream Jobs for Adults with ADHD]

A calendar helps an event planner with ADHD manage dates.
A calendar helps an event planner with ADHD manage dates.
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3. Event Planner

From wedding planners to conference commandos, events professionals know how to hire a great caterer, book speakers months in advance, and wow their guests with the perfect keepsake. They schedule logistics down to the minute, keep everyone on time, and are always thinking five moves ahead — smiling the whole time. While events planning can be a great creative release, this is risky employment for anyone who tends to run late, suffer from time blindness, and procrastinate until the last minute.

A Different Perspective: "I organize events. It gives me variety in my life, and it works for me!" – Katy B.

Tax forms are a nightmare for a person with ADHD.
Tax forms are a nightmare for a person with ADHD.
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4. Accountant

Many adults with ADHD would rather stick a pencil in their eye than work on their taxes. (Annual extension filing, anyone?) Crunching numbers! Tracking down the right forms! Putting the right information in the right boxes! Accountants do this every day, all while keeping in mind changing tax codes, discount rates, and state regulations. Accounting is an esteemed and important profession, it's just utter hell for most people with ADHD and/or learning disabilities that make math a challenge.

A Different Perspective: "I was an auditor, and attention to detail was paramount! I used hyperfocus consistently, and worked best when the deadline was nearer." – Lynne W.

Librarian pushing book cart in college library
Librarian pushing book cart in college library
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5. Librarian

Librarians are masters of quiet, self-guided organization. They keep every Dewey Decimal in its proper place without uttering a word — and often without much supervision to keep them on task. This is important work — and it is extremely ill-suited to social, chatty people with ADHD who enjoy a lot of stimulation. In addition, 20 to 60 percent of people with ADHD have one or more learning or language disabilities, which can make alphabetization and heavy reading difficult.

Different Perspectives: "ADHD is actually a survival gift and is not a 'disorder.' We are attentitive to feelings, especially passionate ones. If you are passionate about books, you will be fine. We excel when we are driven by our emotions." – Courtney A.

"I worked in a library in college. I love shelving books. I can alphabetize and sort by number all day long and be perfectly happy. It's organizing things that aren't so easily categorized that I have trouble with." – Jennifer L.

Shot of three businesswomen with ADHD working in an office
Shot of three businesswomen working in an office
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6. Customer Service Representative

Answering the phones all day is tedious enough. Add to that the challenge of keeping your temper in check even when the customer is definitely not always right, and you've got a dangerous combination for adults with ADHD. The impulsivity of the condition means that we often lack restraint when we feel like someone's treating us poorly.

Different Perspectives: "I rocked my banking customer service job; I loved seeing and talking to different people!" –Bonnie T.

"I totally suck at math. But I'm the bomb at customer service! The landscape isn’t clear cut. People with ADHD are a varied group." – Kerry G.

[18 Questions That Will Reveal Your Ideal Career]

A truck driver is amoung the worst jobs for ADHD
A truck driver is amoung the worst jobs for ADHD
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7. Truck Driver

Long, solo drives — especially overnight — can be monotonous and even dangerous for adults with ADHD. People with ADHD are more prone to distracted driving, speeding, and missing signs and signals. While we can stay safe on the road by following certain precautions, like limiting music and phone calls during transit, it's best not to make a career of driving.

A Different Perspective: "My son’s mantra is, 'Nothing where I have to sit at a desk.' Jobs that let him move around and see new things work best." –Barb R.

An operations manager is one of the worst jobs for people with ADHD
Shot of two designers using a large touchscreen monitor
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8. Operations Manager

Operations management is a dynamic career with great pay. But it's not a profession well suited for most adults with ADHD. A typical operations manager oversees the day-to-day running of a company — hiring employees, negotiating contracts, addressing budget matters, and guiding work teams through projects. This requires a great deal of efficient multi-tasking, and consistent calm in stressful situations. These roles can torment adults with ADHD for whom planning ahead and juggling disparate priorities are kryptonite.

A Different Perspective: "It's helpful to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Recognizing right off the bat that a certain job involves a lot of priority juggling is a useful factor to consider when choosing a career." –Kristen G.

An assembly line worker is one of the worst jobs for ADHD
An assembly line worker is one of the worst jobs for ADHD
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9. Assembly Line Worker

Talk about repetitive work. And work that requires a steady attention to detail throughout. The worst possible combination for adults with ADHD who suffer boredom and an inability to focus when not stimulated mentally or physically. Instead, look for a career that lets you work on many different things throughout the day to keep your mind fresh and your attention sharp.

A Different Perspective: “I had an electronic assembly job once upon a time. I loved it so much, I went on to get an Associate’s degree in electronics.” — Timothy S.

A therapist or counselor is amoung the worst jobs for people with ADHD
A therapist or counselor is amoung the worst jobs for people with ADHD
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10. Therapist or Counselor

People with ADHD can be quite empathetic. We like helping people and we understand the value of positive relationships. So why don't we generally make good therapists or counselors? The pleasure-producing neurotransmitters (dopamine) in our brains are in short supply. As a result, we constantly crave jolts of neurological energy. Eating carbohydrates, for example, triggers a rush of dopamine to the brain. So does "drama." This explains why adults with ADHD sometimes seem to create relationship problems unnecessarily — picking fights and stirring up pots just to stimulate our brains. This is bad for relationships, which thrive on good, healthy communication.

A Different Perspective: "I am a therapist/LCSW with ADHD. It allows me to focus on one client at a time, and I can set my own schedule! Difficulty, disability, and mental health should definitely never hold someone back from doing what they are passionate about. Limitations are what we allow them to be." – Rachel W.

Two people with ADHD at a crossroads.
Two people with ADHD at a crossroads.
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Finding the Right Career for You

Working in a field you love, even if it's not traditionally an ADHD-strength, can help you overcome the problem areas of your condition. The first step to finding the career for you is finding your passion, and embracing it. Then, look for jobs that can hold your attention. Find a workplace where you can schedule in breaks to give your brain a chance to refresh, and ask for responsibilities that play to your strengths. There are many famous professionals with ADHD who are extremely successful. With the right choices, you can be, too!

[We’re Hiring: ADHD-Friendly Careers]

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  1. I find that my ADHD allows me to be a more effective Assistant, as I can answer the phone, help someone in my office, change a calendar appointment and eat my lunch simultaneously…

    1. Thats not ADHD. That’s multi-tasking. ADHD is interrupting the person you are helping in the office and answering the phone, then having to ask the person you were helping what you were talking about after you got back to them, and then remembering that you forgot to change the calendar appointment until they show up to the time they requested a change for and there’s nothing written in. You also didn’t eat your lunch because there were too many other distractions and you felt like you weren’t worth taking the time to focus on eating.

      1. Wow! That’s exactly the perfect way to describe it, Tyler! LOL I couldn’t possibly be in a job where I would have to actually remember things to do- and plan for others, no less. That would be dreadful for all parties involved. I can barely remember enough to progress in my chosen career of IT. Plus, A+ Certification is overwhelming, and oftentimes, I’m not sure if my brain can understand some of the concepts. I can barely stop my racing mind long enough to understand the sentences. I have to literally talk my brain down and try to tunnel vision it. Sigh, what a life.

  2. As my name implies, I never seen to be typical of any group. I do have trouble concentrating and take medication to help with this, but after years of high stress jobs, I find myself almost immune to boredom. Extremely repetitive work behind relaxing. Has anyone else found that to be true for them? I do find humor in the fact that nearly every job I have ever had is on this list or very similar to I’ve that is.

    1. Yes, I also kind of enjoy boring, repetitive tasks… but not all the time. I find I enjoy work the most when it’s a balance of challenging, diverse tasks and repetitive or tedious tasks (what most people find tedious, I find satisfying since it usually involves getting data or documents from their chaotic ‘raw’ form into a neater final product). I have also held a few jobs like the ones listed, some of which I was successful at and enjoyed for a while.

    2. I want repetitive, boring tasks. I want things with a clear-cut goal or ending. No telephones, little interaction with other people. My idea of heaven is an office all alone with a stack of paperwork and/or data entry to finish.

      Unfortunately, all the available jobs where I live involve heavy customer service, telephones, cash registers..my idea of hell. I hate being on the spot because my mind goes blank under pressure, especially if someone is standing there waiting for an answer, or on the phone demanding an answer. It doesn’t matter if I know it, I won’t be able to come up with the answer on the spot.

  3. Interesting that the surveys indicated 14% of respondents didn’t like being isolated in an office… Many people I know with ADHD (myself included) prefer a closed office since it helps eliminate distractions that are harder to ignore in a open concept space. We do like to come out to collaborate and socialize as well, but for getting tasks done, nothing beats a space with less distractions.

  4. To the Editors: this is such a great article and great example of your whole ADDitude with its inclusion of contradictory views and experiences. So human and helpful.

  5. I’m astounded — librarians shelve and read books all day???? Clearly, you’ve absolutely NO idea what a professional librarian does for a living. While library volunteers, pages, and some low-level staff may, in fact, do repetitive tasks such as shelving, I find that my job as a professional librarian involves a wide variety of tasks, utilizing new and interesting technologies, interacting with people of all sorts, and leading system-wide change — tasks that involve a LOT of creativity.

  6. hmmm, I work in a Libraries and I am pretty ADHD (and dyslexic lol)
    My main branch is really busy, 400-600 people come through the door each day. There is a constant buzz, loads on the spot problem solving, doing a lot of different tasks and never stopping to move. It is perfect for me.
    I was in file storing/archive jobs before and as long I get to move around too I am good.

    I find this article quite generalised. sorry.

  7. And yes, I agree with the Library comments. When I worked at the Reference Desk of an academic library, I loved it: new books all the time to get to know and new users/patrons with varied needs to fulfill.

  8. I have been a CPA for almost 40 years. Originally, I worked with small businesses for a large firm. Every day was different, and I couldn’t imagine being in a boring job. Then I spent 10 years as Controller for a family-owned business. Again, every day was different. Then I went back into public accounting as a tax accountant. The first year was difficult-I ran into the ADD problem of not knowing where to start, and what to do next. The next year was easy-because I knew the clients, I knew where to start and what steps needed to be taken. While some things are the same each year, every year I have some clients who buy or sell a home or business, some who were impacted by a natural disaster, marriages, divorces, widowhood, retirement, and of course, the tax law changing just about every year now-in other words, there is great variety year-to-year. I love the deadlines, because without them, I probably wouldn’t work enough to keep a job! When deadlines are coming up, I can hyperfocus like a boss. My mother taught me organizational skills, so that has never been a problem for me.
    I have found auditing to be mind-numbingly boring, but a friend ADDer loves auditing, and hates tax work.
    I have worked with ADDers who should not be accountants. The main solution for them is to delegate paperwork they don’t want to do. ADDers who are social butterflies are perfect rainmakers, and can partner with others who can do the paper-pushing.
    In short, if one likes math, talk to an accountant about the actual tasks they do to see if you could enjoy them. There are so many types of accounting jobs, it probably isn’t too hard to find one that uses one’s strengths, while minimizing one’s weaknesses. You just have to be self-aware!

  9. I would say that I completely disagree with this article. ADD/ADHD doesn’t prevent someone from successfully pursuing and thriving in specific careers. There are people with ADHD in all of the occupations listed, who have been able to manage quite well. For instance, Dr. Edward Hallowell, a renowned psychiatrist has ADHD and has written extensively about the satisfaction he derives from helping clients through therapy. Stephanie Moulton Sarkis is a therapist with ADHD and she has helped many clients with the condition cope with the symptoms and make the most of their lives. Therefore, the evidence contradicts the claim that a career as a therapist is “toxic”.

    I am an attorney with ADHD and it has been an incredibly rewarding career. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. Asserting that people with ADHD are unable to handle certain careers effectively is completely ludicrous. Please be mindful and cautious about making such assumptions.

  10. Class A all endorsements CDL holder here! LOL. I have the more hyper active type ADHD, and I’m very aware of my surroundings. So things catch my eye like animals or cars doing something funny and of course pedestrians! The hardest part was the time involved with the job. I would drive for 12-16 hours a day. I was so over it by 12 hours and that’s when I would start having trouble, but an employer that would push me to drive illegally. It’s an issue in the industry among smaller local companies. I’ve never had a trucking job that didn’t turn out to be a 50-70 hour work week. So I went back to school to try something new. I’ve never had a job I enjoyed as much or fit me so well. It was love hate. Now that I’m a mom, I’ve found re-entering the field has been pretty difficult, but I keep my CDL current. If anything, CDL school taught me to be a better driver, because before that I had a lot of stupid accidents.

  11. What you have missed is incoming external stimulus and reminders. I have done well in all kinds of jobs from administrative assistant to management positions as long as my main focus was responding to incoming stimuli: phone calls, people walking in, complaints, problems to solve. I can do that until the cows come home, and people marvel at my ability to switch gears from one to the other. I can come up with creative initiatives and new procedures to make life easier for us all. I can work in quiet or chaos. I can even file the documentation at the end of the day if I’m doing VERY well, although having an assistant helps. What I can’t do keep plugging along on long term, ongoing projects that someone else thinks have intrinsic value but don’t rise above the daily hubbub to grab my attention. Those only get looked at when that other person asks what I’ve done about it–which will be nothing.

  12. After reading the comments, I have to say that I don’t think this survey is all that accurate. When it comes to jobs, I think we are all different. For me boredom was always a problem. I did work as a secretary, and I was actually good at it, although I got bored pretty quickly. I needed lots of stimulation and a fast pace to stay interested. And I happen to love numbers. My favorite job was working part time, doing books (Quicken) for several clients.

    What worked best for me was doing temp office work. I could go into a company, get a quick read on a job, do it a couple of weeks and not have to put up with any of the company BS.

    My worst jobs were working for a director or company president. They want you to keep their calendar, make appointments and put together meetings that include lunch and coffee. YUCK!

  13. I found it interesting that “teaching” was listed as an ideal career for those with ADD! While the ADD brain/personality may find the ” idea” of the career to be very attractive, I personally found several of my ADD-blindspots to make teaching a very stressful, tiring, overwhelming job. In particular, as a high school French teacher.” I taught five different classes (requiring different preparation/lessons/hw correction/etc) a day, and found it challenging to meet 90 different kids at the beginning of a school year and learn everybody’s name/challenges/personality/etc. very quickly, which is expected for teachers. Similarly, it is very challenging to focus on writing on the board or working with a student one-on-one, while also keeping an eye on the subversive-non-academic-activity popping up in the back of the room. Another difficult challenge is keeping pace (aka not losing track of time), and not getting side tracked, sharing interesting cultural/historic information that skews the central focus of the lesson. Similarly, the seemingly simple task of collecting homework can turn into a headache. I found myself with a bag full of papers every night, heater skelter, and I found it agonizing to have to alphabetize them, so that I could quickly enter the grades in the computer as I corrected them. All in all, I determined that I much prefer working one-on-one with students than that “classroom management” of a large group!!

    Basically, focused systems that control the flow of people, paperwork, and time are essential to teachers with ADHD. As an “inattentive-type-ADD” teacher, I found the job to be an uphill battle!

  14. I’m really surprised that the “Starbuck’s Barrista” wasn’t included as an user-challenging scenario for ADHD. It’s the earpiece that I think tips the scale!!! Interfacing with a client you don’t see, while remembering their order and multitasking the creating of drinks—-all this without bumping into the other barristas, with hot drinks. Not to mention the pressure of doing it all with long lines of impatient customers. That would be like mental gymnastics.

    1. I agree. I was a great bartender about 25 years ago. Now my short term memory is so bad, and I have less patience for pushy, demanding people. I seem to only be able to hyperfocus in silence now, where I could work in noisy environments before. I don’t even understand how I seem to be getting worse after being diagnosed instead of better.

  15. I’m skeptical of articles like this, because they imply that we are all the same. I’ve done work similar to almost every job listed in this article, and I like it. I don’t think there are one-size-fits-all solutions to the ADHD employment question, nor do I believe it’s constructive to promote self-limiting beliefs. I refuse to think of myself as someone who can’t do what I want to do because of a disability. It’s possible to find strategies to get around the limitations. None of the jobs described in a separate article as great for people with ADHD appeals to me in the slightest. So yeah…no. I disagree with the premise. Do what you want, and be persistent. It takes time to develop strategies, but it’s possible.

  16. So all executive assistants are female? It’s kinda pathetic that you assume only a women would work as an assistant, even if that job title today is more often given to female workers that is bound to change. Consider using ‘they’ instead of ‘she’ and ‘their’ rather than ‘her’ when trying to be inclusive. Also I think this article undermines the effects of ADHD on a persons ability to do a job effectively by reducing it down to a specific aspect of the job then saying, well ADHD people don’t do that very well so you might want to try something else. Right in this article you show that any job can be a good job for someone with ADHD as long as they find rewarding aspects to the minutiae and that isn’t determined by your disorder.

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