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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