Challenged by an attention deficit? The good news is this disorder can actually help you excel in certain types of careers.
I’m 37. I was diagnosed with ADHD — attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder — just over a year ago.
The diagnosis actually came as a relief to me. It explained so many of my struggles and behaviors, but it also came as a slight surprise. Growing up with both a mom and a sibling with ADHD, I typically thought of ADHD folks as people who constantly fidget, are hyperactive, start — but don’t finish — projects, lack focus and struggle in a structured work (and/or school) environment.
That wasn’t me! I was a high-performing — near straight-A — student all through school, including college. I was organized, didn’t forget appointments, always finished my work/projects, and I thrived under pressure.
My doctor explained that it’s not unusual for people with ADHD to develop coping skills to deal with symptoms of the disorder. I compensated for my ADHD by developing almost somewhat compulsive tendencies in some areas of my life.
Because I work best under pressure and on a deadline basis, working as a reporter — and now as a writer — is a great fit for me. It also helps that I don’t get bored because I’m exploring something new every day.
“People with ADHD flourish when expectations and deadlines are clear and put into writing,” said Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, a clinical psychotherapist and assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, in an interview with consumer health information site Healthline. “Employers should break down projects into smaller tasks and assign deadlines to those components.”
Healthline says these are six of the best jobs for people with ADHD:
- Police officers and firefighters: Because these public servants are usually busy and they can’t predict what will happen on the job from day to day — which is great for ADHD folks who don’t like tedious routines — a career as a police officer or a firefighter can be a great option for adults with ADHD.
- Doctors and nurses: Similar to cops and firefighters, doctors’ and nurses’ workdays are always different. “People with ADHD tend to work well in a fast-paced, high-intensity environment, like that of an emergency room or ambulance,” Sarkis said.
- Sales and commission-based sales: It’s common for people with ADHD to enjoy talking and what better way to harness that communication skill than to try your hand at sales? My brother, who struggles with ADHD, is amazing in sales, though he does sometimes have difficulty focusing his energy on selling.
- Artists and entertainers: “The energy and drive it takes to succeed in any aspect of the entertainment industry — as a graphic artist, ballet dancer, or stage actor — is exhausting for most people, but not for those with ADHD,” says Healthline. High-energy ADHD adults can find great success in creative fields.
- Military: You may be surprised to see the military — with its focus on discipline and order — on a list of recommended jobs for ADHD folks, but Healthline says the armed forces are a great fit for some people with ADHD because the mental focus and physical demands required in the military keep both “minds and bodies engaged.”
- Mechanics or construction workers: The hands-on physical work required in the construction field and as a mechanic is great for people with ADHD who don’t do well working in a cubicle or stuck behind a desk in an office environment.
Do you or someone you know have ADHD? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.