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16 Good Jobs for Creative & Restless ADHD Brains

What's a good job for a person with ADHD? The answer almost always hinges on the individual's passions. That said, the creative, engaging, interactive professions on this list make the most of ADD attributes like empathy, energy, enthusiasm, and hyperfocus under pressure.

42 Comments: 16 Good Jobs for Creative & Restless ADHD Brains

  1. If you love teaching and performing it’s a great recommendation as teaching might motivate you to overcome your obstacles. But on the other hand, you are constantly highly stimulated by smells, sounds, and colours. This can lead to a constant sensory overload. And if you are highly social setting boundaries can become a problem, too. Plus you have to structure for others while probably having problems with structuring yourself, e.g. with punctuality. Just keep that in mind when you think about teaching as a possibility. Maybe a private school with smaller classes or even specialization in neurodiversity may be better for you.

  2. I made a career as a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Agricultural reporter. Every day had new commodities, packaging or other factors that always kept me curious. I made very detailed daily reports on the price and movement of fresh foods across the nation.

  3. I really struggle to run a business of my own. Wearing the different hats of lead generation, sales, operations and finances is just too much for me to be able to switch focus easily. In fact, I discovered I had ADHD was a result of my frustration and wondering why others could make it look so easy.

    Looking back at my career, the most successful times were when I worked for someone else who could attend to the other responsibilities and I could focus on what I was employed to do.

  4. I believe that we are all capable of what ever we chose. Add and Adhd do not define us. People have some symptoms but not all. Some are more severe than others. Some are on medicine and others are not. Just like people who don’t have ANY disorders or conditions, we are all different and adhd doesn’t mean we all fit into a cookie cutter category. All people with adhd will not be exactly the same. You may have difficulties where I don’t, and vice versa. My point is I’m tired of people at my job making comments about multitasking and paying attention to detail when they are around me. I may have adhd but I am being treated for it and I personally CAN multitask and pay attention to detail. It was essential to all my previous positions. I fear that this day in age everyone connected to eachother in one way or another on social media, the fact that i have adhd will be general knowledge locally and I will never be given an opportunity to find employment in jobs I am extremely qualified for because of these misconceptions about people with adhd. They will say , she can’t multitask and has poor attention to detail. I guess I’m just asking that those of us who truly do have this diagnoses don’t put information out there that is hurtful to us all in general. If you yourself find that you can’t do anything but play video games that’s YOUR experience , not mine and that will encourage these negative and incorrect assumptions and stereotypes about people with adhd. If anyone is having that severe of issues its quite possible you’ve got more going on then JUST adhd or add. You may have a comorbid condition such as depression or anxiety. We also need to be honest with ourselves. If we are not succeeding with our plans our frustrations may lead to self medicating, in that case , that could be adding to the “symptoms”. My issues aren’t as severe and I don’t want potential employers thinking I wouldn’t be a good fit to a job based on misinformation. To those of you who KNOW we can do what anyone else can do, stay strong and keep your head up. To those of you who think we couldn’t be a journalist or an entrepreneur; I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you find the strength inside yourself to get some help and start living life .

  5. I really need to add my two cents because I have been through several careers so I speak from experience. I really want to help young people and their parents who are searching for the best career fit. There are a few ways to look at the career you choose. My brother who is extremely intelligent, also has ADHD but with very low executive functioning so I can tell you a bit about both of our experiences. I was able to get through university and a professional post graduate program. I worked in healthcare for eight years. I loved the busy days of seeing many patients. I was challenged both mentally and physically. The problem came from going into business for myself. I do not agree that entrepreneurship is good for everyone with ADHD. And you can’t just hire people to cover every aspect that doesn’t work for you because that is not feasible in every situation. The stress of hiring people, organizing an office, purchasing supplies, accounting, etc. just weighed me down so much and I couldn’t afford to hire people to handle those tasks, so I had to leave. I should have just gone to work for someone else either as an employee or even independent contractor and just worried about myself. But instead I made the huge mistake of going into teaching. I thought that being an employee with set hours would be less stressful but the teaching profession is not what people think. There is so much organizing, planning, paperwork, etc which is a nightmare if you have issues with executive functioning. I totally agree with another comment “Personally, I have fouwnd general teenage angst, emotional randomness, and emotional neediness, to be very demanding on my executive functioning – too many triggers.” to be so true and bang on. Regular classroom teaching from grades 4-12 is stifling and soul crushing. I can see JK/SK or daycare being possible options if you’re a kid at heart, not sure about grades 1-3 because you’re teaching them to read, write, count and parents are all over you during those years. If you really want to teach, this is the route I highly recommend. Either be a phys-ed/art/music teacher OR go into it as a second career and go the Tech teacher route. Starting with the classrooms, you might be in a shop, a simulated hair/esthetician/hospital room situation. You do way more field trips and bring in guest lecturers. You may move into a coop teacher role more easily. I’ve moved around in teaching until I found this option and it’s the only one at the high school level that worked for me.
    My brother found that what works best for him was a technical job without any paperwork. He operates machinery at a large company. He likes that he goes in for his shift, does a job that he is good at, but that he can completely walk away from at the end of the shift. Once he leaves work he is completely free to do what he loves and not think about work at all. The only restrictions with this is the set hours, but the lack of paperwork and planning works well for his low executive functioning so he doesn’t mind the shifts. The education level for jobs like his can range from skilled trades, college level all the way to university level so regardless of your aptitude you can find jobs like his.
    I really hope this helps people looking at careers. If you have any questions let me know.

  6. Before discrediting any of the above I think it’s important to remember everyone is different and each of these jobs have similar requirements but are remarkably different from one another. Not to mention additional variables that would impact the ability to work in certain roles. When looking at employment I’ve always thought it was important to consider what that job requires, what sort of situations I might face how I would deal with them etc. Ideally knowing your limits and utilising your strengths, I think that if the downside to an employment is not something you find difficult or struggle with then bash on and make full use of the gifts ADHD/ADD does have.

  7. All of the above seems like pie-in-the-sky to me.

    I believe that I’ve had some kind of a disorder that may or may not be ADHD, for all of my life. [I’m 43 this month]. Only I’ve been so crippled by it that I have never been able to complete any kind of vocational training, required for all of the careers listed above; and indeed have managed to screw up penny-ante jobs such as bartender, waiter, even kitchen porter. Washing friggin’ dishes! Couldn’t keep up. I recently tried being a relief mailman. Couldn’t mind-map the route, and couldn’t use the PDA I was given.

    At this point I’m scared to death of a future even bleaker than the past, and there appears to be very little to be done about it.

    So it seems to me that if people have managed to carve out a successful career and a satisfying life, then their ‘attention deficit’ is more of a hobby than a disorder.


  8. I worked in software development and new product development for many years in Silicon Valley. There are pros and cons for an ADDer.

    As a software developer working for a company, a lot of the work is very much technical applied problem-solving: linear and procedural, highly detail-oriented, and rules-based. I don’t find that creative in a way I enjoy but it works for some.

    You’re also sitting and working at a computer for 10, 12+ hours a day or are sitting in meetings. You’re not outside or physically active and there can be very little variety in your day-to-day. You go to the same place every day (or work from home), see the same people every day, and work on the same projects a lot. Unless you’re in sales or upper management or maybe are a PM working cross-functionally at a big company, you’re probably not going to meet a lot of people and are mostly around your team of other analytical, often (but not always) introverted engineers and testers.

    There are constant deadlines and you usually have little control over the amount of work required vs. the deadlines. This often burns people out. 60-hour+ work weeks are common. Common workflows these days involve a ton of team work and pair programming, which can be good in keeping ADDers focused and on task but bad if you’re more creative or quicker than the person or others you’re working with.

    It can be a grind if you’re doing development for clients because you have little to no control over the ideation of the product/technology being developed. You’re tasked with the very narrow applied problem-solving required to create THEIR vision (which is often not as good as your or your teammates’ vision!). It gets repetitive, too, since clients often don’t know what they want, change their minds, or their power structure gets shaken up so different strategic directions are emphasized. You can re-work and re-program the same general idea or functionality 30 times, 50 times…really boring unless you truly enjoy the act of programming itself.

    That said, some things that are helpful for most ADDers are the quick turnaround times, and being able to turn on a dime and work on a lot of different projects as the urgent need arises hour by hour or day by day. Agile development practices necessitate tons of deadlines so you’re always deadline-driven, which can help an ADDer but also causes burnout. Folks in tech are often sharp and think fast, which is a huge relief for ADDers with high intelligence.

    If you’re a consultant software architect or engineer, you will have more variety. You may work remote or co-locate for three or six months with a team somewhere. You may to from company to company, working on different projects as the need arises and you probably have your own side gig going, too. I haven’t done this but think it might be hard for ADDers to stay on task since you’re really on your own managing your time, your projects, accounts, taxes, and not being fully integrated into a team with day-to-day accountability. The pressure’s on to deliver brilliantly and quickly, too, because you’re hired in at a high salary to do that kind of work. But the work is often open-ended and somewhat unstructured.

    If you can start your own gig as an entrepreneur with a partner and get some funding, you have the potential to do something a lot more interesting in creating your own product or technology. You’re challenged on a number of different levels every day (funding, business management, finance, legal, personnel management, strategic planning, marketing) in addition to getting to be a big picture thinker and visionary thought leader in the IT space. You get to create something that’s never been done or seen before, which can be a thrill. If you get funding, you often (for better or worse) get mentored by the vc’s which can help keep you on task and help with prioritization. It’s a wild ride and super high risk, but thrilling and fun – definitely some ADD appeal there!

  9. If you have bilingual skills, I strongly recommend interpreting whether it’s in the medical field or legal. Never a dull moment! Constant change of pace, new faces, new cases every time and you learn something new every time. And the best part is you never take work home! Absolutely love it.

    1. This area really interests me, but I would be quite worried that I might make an error, or get very emotionally involved with a customer / patient / client. how do you find this aspect of for job? Also, I would expect that you have to have a really broad vocabulary to manage all of these types of topics. Are you bilingual? Or did you learn your languages separately?

    2. I am trilingual and would love to do something like that! Do you have any tips or resources on how/from where I could start?

    3. Interesting. I’m fluent in Spanish, French, and English. Can you point me to a good online resource where I could learn more about it as a possible career, or how to actually try it out to see if I’d like it? Do you need to be certified? Thanks pitipua62!

  10. So, was anyone else bothered by the fact that these “17” careers could easily have been rolled into 8? I mean,
    teacher/daycare worker: person who works with children,
    journalist/copy editor: person who works in a newsroom,
    beautician (which I assume includes estheticians and make up artists)/hair stylist: person who cuts/styles hair, &/or works with skin &/or make up.
    Chef/ restaurant worker: person who works in a restaurant,
    nurse/1st responder: person who is a health care professional,
    Small business owner/entrepreneur: person who owns a business
    High tech/hardware-software engineer: person who does stuff with computers,
    Artist: people who work in the fine arts making stuff,
    Actor/director/dancer/etc: people who work in the fine arts performing stuff (or aiding in the production of the performance).
    There. 9. Nine was how long it needed to be.

    1. Not really, because the skill sets are very different, with the exception of small business owner and entrepreneur maybe.

      While there’s a lot of people who can both act and direct, including those with ADHD, I very much have to stick to acting. The tech side has too many responsibilities. In fact, I’d personally separate acting into two separate categories. I prefer stage because you get to feed of the audience and use your adrenaline to enhance your performance. You just don’t get that on film. There’s so much stopping and starting that it’s easier to space out and harder to stay in character and keep your momentum. But stage is just go, go, go except for the intermission. Much better suited to my symptoms. On the other hand, both can get boring from the repetition.

      Also, my day job is substitute teaching, but I could never handle working in a daycare. I’m good at educating, but prefer to remain as far removed from body functions and physical contact as possible.

  11. Personally, I think a lot of these jobs would be difficult with ADHD. The biggest thing for me is the ability to self-manage and switch tasks as needed. When I get bored of doing financials, I update our website. If I get bored with administrative work, I switch to financials. It is the ability to be creative and switch tasks when focus wanes that are good jobs for those with ADHD.

  12. Whoah… Yeah… no I think a lot of these would result in organizational paralysis… My husband owned his own dog training business when I met him (took my puppy to class and he was the teacher!)… He struggled a LOT, because he loved the root purpose of the business, but it was WAY too much for him to handle in terms of staying organized. The “running the business” part was definitely NOT well-suited to his ADHD mind. Meeting new clients, new challenges, that was all good…

  13. I think some of the jobs listed aren’t too bad for someone who’s got ADHD. I think some that commented are missing the big picture in that we are all individuals with the same thing, but we all don’t think or behave the same. There’s many characteristics of ADHD that are the same, but we all have different strengths and weaknesses.

    I thought by now I’d be on my way to becoming a nurse since I’ve been in the medical field for the past 10 years. After my last job I just had to face it that this isn’t the field for me. The last job became a nightmare because they were having us run 2 clinics that are completely different. They didn’t hire more people either so I would be running around like a maniac trying to get things done. I don’t like being in a office, I don’t like people watching my every move micromanaging me, and telling me because I’m not doing things their way, it’s the wrong way even though the job gets done. I work hard and I can get things done fast. But when there’s too much going on with no support it’s hard for me to focus and prioritize.
    There’s no room to be creative or think outside the box in places like this. That’s pure hell to me!

    So at 36 I changed my mind and went for a different field to earn my bachelors degree in forensics. I’ve always been interested in this more. With crime scene investigation it’s never the same, it’s always a new puzzle to put together. You’re not confined to a desk 8 hours a day and I like the challenges that cases may bring more of this field. I know this is the right choice for me but it may not be right for someone else with ADHD.

  14. Journalist?! Seriously? How could someone with true ADD become a journalist when they need to write quickly, efficiently and in a timely manner. A journalist needs to be organized and punctual. Two components that someone with true ADD does not have. In fact about half of the items on this list aren’t good for people with ADD. It irks me when I see uber successful people tell me that they have ADD (self diagnosed cause they can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes). Yet when I see them work they type quickly, accurately, are organized, punctual etc. Two of the items on this list especially wouldn’t work for someone with true ADD. In order to start a successful home based business or become a successful entrepreneur a person with ADD needs to get past mental paralysis and procrastination. For 15 years I have tried to get off the ground with some sort of successful online business but mental paralysis, procrastination, boredom, disorganization, exhaustion almost always gets in the way. A dozen breaks, video games, movies, nap and more naps are just a common daily routine for someone who tries to start their home based business. The best job for someone who suffers from true ADD is one where they aren’t required to sit in front of a computer all day, work in an office, write and get things done in a timely organized manner, or be efficient, disciplined, and punctual. Sadly many of these jobs wouldn’t work unless the only thing we mean by ADD is someone who is very creative and hyper focused under pressure.

    1. I agree completely!
      Analysis Paralysis is what I suffer from!
      I spend so much time PLANNING every detail of my day, & getting distracted by every rabbit trail I see, that my day is gone!
      I research something on the internet (ex. Kijiji or ebay) until the item I wanted is already SOLD!
      Entrepreneurial home business won’t work for me because I would give everyone such a good deal, I’d be bankrupt!

    2. I agree that this list as well as several dozen others I’ve read, basically talk positively about almost any career, with comments like multi-tasking suits those with ADHD. it does…as long as you have absolutely no need to remember what you did 5 hours later to follow up, to make sure 15 reports on different people or projects need any number of details sent all in a time sensitive manner. I have severe ADHD and it takes me 3 times as long as my colleagues to complete a task requiring anything that calls for me to remember chronological details 2 + hours after I’ve heard them or observed them. I have yet to find a decent paying job that I can manage and my search on the internet hasn’t struck any chords. My tendency to take all my tasks, at home, at work; this is universal, and my mind wants to process them all at once. I cannot multi-task. I need to start and complete tasks one one project at a time. Otherwise, I end up becoming overwhelmed and my functioning plummets. Planning ahead is my most challenging disability; I have always had problems showing up without needed material; not planning the correct amount of time for a task, going blank during a presentation, and I have to suck up every off work moment to plan something for the next day at work. Therefore, I think teaching would be hell for me. My social work job is impossible and I just quit my second job in that field after 2 1/2 months. I don’t know what to try next.

    3. Trust me, I feel your pain with struggling with deadlines and being punctual. I definitely struggle with those things as well. Finishing reports or essays in college was particularly difficult for me. However, after much research, I’ve learned about myself and ADD. I’ve realized that people with ADD have different symptoms and different levels of hyperactivity, anxiety, ability to focus, hyperfocus, etc. So what you might think as impossible for people with ADD is not completely true. I might not be good with deadlines but apps and accountability partners (wife, friends, & boss) help to keep me on track. I never thought I’d be able to start my own business but I’ve partnered with other people and they’ve helped me to stay on task and we work together as a partnership. On my own, it would be very difficult. So it seems to me that you might be trying to do things on your own and you might need to have some accountability and/or partners. Experiment and try new things to help and try to overcome your weaknesses. I like what someone said earlier, don’t let ADD define you.

    4. After working as a bookkeeper, paralegal and other soul sucking jobs, I became a freelance writer. At first, there were long days of hard work to build my reputation, but now I’m known in a small niche field. I plan my articles, know my deadlines and can work with that. Some days I wake up and want to write, other days I’d rather do research. Yes, I hyperfocus sometimes, and other days, I have 52 tabs open and music is coming from somewhere. One doesn’t always have to interview a subject in person. Email and phones work too. Who said people with ADHD can’t meet deadlines or be on time? We can be if it’s really important. I’ve learned that, no matter the job, if you enjoy it & are halfway decent at it, you can succeed. Don’t let ADHD define you. Learn your weak areas and either improve or find a way to work around them.

    5. I worked in tv with journalists and it seemed the ADD mob were well represented. Gotta say though that what they felt were strengths routinely made a lot of logistical trouble. Egos meant those problems continued unacknowledged. It’s interesting to me the positive experiences from people who worked in the print area. Might look into that! Thanks!

    6. You should keep in mind that symptoms vary from person to person. I was diagnosed with both ADHD (combined type) and Panic Disorder. My anxiety forces me to be hyper-organized and when I’m up against a deadline my brain goes into overdrive. I do my best work like this.

    7. My mom is super ADHD, and she was a successful journalist for 15 years. She covered the Lifestyle section and had a weekly column. To this day (twelve years later) she is so beloved in our town for her reporting that we have standing free tickets to any performance we want to see.

    8. I think journalism can be a great career for the right person — I was a newspaper reporter for almost 10 years. It depends on where you work and where you are located. Even in a smaller town, I loved that I didn’t see the same people everyday and adrenaline rush from racing the clock to get my story finished was amazing, especially when I received positive feedback on my stories. I was undiagnosed throughout my career, so some of my shortcomings could have been easily reduced if I had known. My biggest hurdles were those simple spelling and grammatical mistakes that I made while racing to complete my assignments. My self esteem take a beating, and it always made me look and feel like an amateur. My patience was also tested during tedious tasks like fact checking or waiting on an important source to return my phone calls. Ultimately, I left the career because the newspaper industry continued create fewer opportunities. I’m still very much creative with writing and graphic design in my corporate job but I’m at my desk and at meetings with the same people everyday, which is dull.

      1. Excuse my typos, by the way. It seems I still have that issue when I’m rushing to complete my writing, lol.

  15. I don’t find nursing particularly creative, but it is perfect for my ADD. At my old job, I struggled to complete the paperwork part of my job (that should be done daily, but could be put off by a day — somehow, I always put it off and let it pile up for weeks). With nursing, my charting has to be done before I go home and it’s best to chart as soon as possible because I never know when an emergency is going to come up and need to be dealt with. Many tasks that I need to do are time-sensitive, so I don’t procrastinate getting started. Juggling the needs of 4 or 5 patients gives me some degree of variety in the tasks that need to be done. Overall, it’s been a midlife career change that has worked out really well for me.

  16. I myself have adhd,and agree cosmotology field as im very good hands on and creative. I ALSO enjoy experimenting with todays new hair styles and makeup.

    1. I think your field does look like a likely good fit for my daughter, but we both worry that the average wage for cosmetologists in our area is way out of line with high cost of living. And the for-profit cosmetology schools scare me a bit (though luckily we have one community college that offers a program). Any niche career paths in that field that might offer more long term financial security than the averages we are seeing in the labor department statistics?

      Also, if you are working with clients a lot, could you advise on ways to get good at the time and organization skills a person needs to manage scheduling clients? That’s got to be a challenge for our tribe. 🙂

      1. Just wanted to say I was a hairdresser and I found it hard to stay focused on cutting someone’s hair. I eventually got a job and a small following but it definitely is very hit or miss. I actually make more money working in food service nowadays then I do doing hair!

        The industry is also very cut throat and over saturated. And I’m sorry most women with ADD don’t get along with other women.

        Please don’t go into hairdressing

    1. TEACHING??????? OH HECK NO!!!!!

      I tried teaching at college level.

      Everything was fine until I had a surly student…. Or I had to do… Paperwork.
      You know – grading papers and reporting grades…..

    2. I went back to school to become a teacher because I just couldn’t handle the tedium of corporate life. It was tough in the beginning, especially before we had decent a curriculum to work with, but once that was in place, I had a lot of fun creating my own world between arranging the schedule and lesson planning. It really brought out my hyper focus. I had a great system.

      Then I had twins and moved out of state. My symptoms were worse and getting re-certified was a nightmare, but even though the pay is significantly less and there’s no benefits, I decided I prefer subbing. I miss having my own room and my own structure, but I love setting my own work schedule (up to a point, obviously you have to work with what’s available) and being free to pursue other things, too.

      If you like some aspects of teaching, but not the lesson planning and the paperwork, and you can supplement your income, it can be a great job, and there’s a shortage of great subs pretty much everywhere I’m sure.

    3. Indeed, maybe there are some who learn from the start to build a routine for teaching. But in my 50s I’m now forced into a classroom teaching role and it’s pure hell. Zero transition time, 4 walls like a cage, fixed times… OMG timinh a lesson, time management with a young audience!!! Hell.

      1. Interesting point, PD.

        I think one of the reasons I disliked teaching in public schools was the static environment you mention; more, in the smaller schools I taught in, I had the same students for years. College, with different classrooms in different buildings for most classes and new students every term, made being a instructor more interesting for me.

    4. I was a teacher for 10 years. I left feeling broken and abused because of the constant multitasking, and demands for my attention in 10 places at once. Not to mention the detailed planning involving breaking things down completely. Terrible things for brains that get overwhelmed easily. I left because I was trying so hard to be someone I was not. Never mind the crisis of the profession itself forcing teachers to become full time testers instead of educators. No thanks. Never again.

    5. I am a teacher and I have ADD. I find this profession really suits my skill set, it’s fast paced, creative and I’m rarely bored. Yes, there are some things that I find challenging (marking, staff meetings etc). But day to day, I love my job!

      1. Where have you taught? I think this may be a significant factor in the success of a teacher with an executive functioning impairment.

        Personally, I have found general teenage angst, emotional randomness, and emotional neediness, to be very demanding on my executive functioning – too many triggers. I’ve taught in 3 different states – universities, colleges, high school, and subbed at every level. Some of my experiences were positive, but in the public schools, I felt there was little room for creativity, I was always pressed for time, and there was too much pressure to hit some contrived corporate standard. Add in constant staff and administration turnover and all the associated changes, and it became unbearable.

        I found larger institutions with a well-developed set of procedures easiest to function in; many of the smaller institutions had politicking and gossip, something I could not manage well, and they tended to procedurally inconsistent (not everyone was treated the same – lots of “winging it”). A well-administrated, well-regulated, supportive school would be a great find for any teacher, but I question how easy they are to find.

        One of the greatest challenges I faced was teaching in a rural area with high poverty and drug use rates. It was apparent what was happening at home, but there was little than can be done (mandatory reporting limitations…). Falling onto the overly-empathetic side of ADHD, there were times when this was just soul-crushing.

      2. Eeight,

        I find it interesting that you took time to write a whole page discouraging a person from their career. Why you would take you time to do so is beyond me. you say you are a teacher but you sound like a bully to me.

    6. I ageee with Eeight. While those with ADHD might be good at teaching and working with children there’s so much more that make teaching challenging. It can be hard to focus on helping one student and paying attention to the other kid who is about to hurt himself leaning back on a chair. Forget to reply to a parent’s email within 8 hours then you’re in hot water. Lesson planning can be all over the place, cafeteria duty….BORING!!! That’s just a portion of the struggle.

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