Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD, can present challenges in life — which can make finding the best careers for people with ADHD all the more difficult.
Known as a type of neurodevelopmental disorder, individuals with ADHD struggle with paying attention, resisting impulses, and following directions, among other signs and symptoms.
While approximately 6.8% (366.3 million) of adults worldwide have symptomatic ADHD, no two people display ADHD in the same way. Some of them might not like talking with people, while others with ADHD appear to be very friendly.
That’s because there are three different types of ADHD:
- Inattentive type
- Hyperactive and impulsive type
- Combination type
There are, however, certain careers and professions that harness the unique quirks of ADHD individuals.
One study found that those with ADHD reported more real-world creative achievements than those without ADHD. It also revealed that adults with ADHD are selective with their output, choosing creative tasks and environments that fit their skills and preferences.
To prove this point, let’s look at the life of Marc Andre Leclerc, a Canadian rock climber and alpinist known for making some of the boldest solo ascents of numerous mountains across the globe.
Much of his story is well documented in the Netflix film titled “The Alpinist.”
The life of Marc Andre Leclerc: A legendary climber who couldn’t sit still
Born and raised in Canada, Leclerc never really fit into the traditional school system as a child diagnosed with ADHD.
“Going into grade one was when he was required to sit at a desk. And he was in French immersion, which I thought would be like intellectually interesting for him,” his mother, Michelle Kuipers, shares on the “ADHD Aha!” podcast.
“But being required to sit at a desk was really difficult for him. And also too, it was apparent that writing was difficult for him.”
Despite this, Leclerc was well advanced as a reader and understood concepts very well, according to Kuipers.
So, his mother decided to homeschool him for most of his elementary education.
It didn’t last long, though, as Kuipers regularly took him to the mountains or forests to observe rocks and plants. These experiences left a deep mark on the young boy and inspired him to immerse himself in the outdoors.
His love story with climbing, however, began when his grandfather gave him Chris Bonnington’s book, “Quest for Adventure,” which showed him images of tiny individuals scaling imposing snow and ice walls.
When he started climbing, he was a natural.
Leclerc’s movements were graceful, controlled, and smooth.
He would also climb on sight, meaning he never rehearsed a particular route before making the whole ascent. Staying true to being a free spirit, Leclerc would show up below a massive mountain face and set off into the unknown.
While it is difficult to draw up a list of Leclerc’s remarkable ascents, given that he is not active on social media, some of his notable ones include becoming the” first climber to solo the Emperor Face of Mount Robson, which stands at 4,921 feet (1,500 metres).
Sadly, the Canadian rock climber and alpinist was presumed dead after ropes that matched his gear were found in a crevasse. At this time, he and George “Ryan” Johnson were supposed to return from their climb on a seven-peaked mountain not far from the state capital, Juneau.
5 best careers for people with ADHD
While financial success or good career progression may be at the top of your mind when it comes to the “best jobs”, our list will focus more on why these careers are the best for those with ADHD.
The most accomplished entrepreneurs possess the creative ability to see things in a different and highly profitable way and the impulse to act upon their instincts.
In the case of adults with ADHD, they tend to approach tasks with remarkable creativity, displaying a genuine curiosity for enhancing processes and an unparalleled ability to hyperfocus in their pursuit of solutions.
People with ADHD often excel in roles that encourage innovative or out-of-the-box thinking. These entrepreneurs often have a rush of dopamine as they continue developing new ideas and business ventures.
In fact, according to a study featured in Small Business Economics, individuals with ADHD are more likely to have entrepreneurial intentions; having the condition increases the odds of starting a business by almost 100%.
For example, Zee Ali founded Z-SWAG, a one-stop shop for custom company merchandise. While his ADHD makes it hard for him to stay focused, it also gives him a lot of ideas and inventive approaches to problem-solving.
There was even research conducted by Dr. Johan Wiklund, a professor of entrepreneurship at Syracuse University. He was diagnosed with ADHD in 2012.
This led him to hypothesise that individuals with ADHD might be drawn to entrepreneurship due to its flexibility and could potentially excel as entrepreneurs because of their ADHD traits.
His hypothesis proved to be correct, as his findings indicated those who had ADHD symptoms performed better than those who didn’t.
Previous research has established a connection between ADHD and boredom. Environments with a speedy pace and overall sense of urgency leave little downtime for boredom or wandering thoughts.
As such, fast-paced job environments are an excellent fit for those living with ADHD because there is often a focus on being flexible and engaged in many different tasks.
These work environments constantly change, so workers must rely on quick decision-making. One such profession is a teacher.
When teachers with ADHD can harness their enthusiasm for particular subjects or activities, they can provide students with information while actively engaging them in their school work.
For those who love teaching, that passion can fuel great classes, as people with ADHD thrive on activities that they enjoy.
There is never a dull or monotonous moment when dealing with students, and as a teacher, an adult with ADHD can also recognise and help students with the condition.
Besides, you won’t need to spend too long on one particular topic. Instead, you’ll have to be able to adapt to changing priorities, often needing to shift focus at a moment’s notice — something that many with ADHD can do with ease.
Plus, it’s a natural fit if you like being around kids.
3. Police officer
ADHD often comes with hyperactivity and impulsivity, leading to high energy levels. This excess energy can be harnessed in high-energy careers, sometimes feeling like an energy boost rather than a drawback.
You can leverage these traits to your benefit in professions such as police officers. Remaining vigilant in various situations and quickly responding to dynamic circumstances are indispensable skills for police officers.
Many people with ADHD are motivated by intensity; jobs with an inherent sense of urgency often work for people with ADHD. Careers, where life is on the line, provide the ultimate purpose of speed.
Since people with ADHD are often energetic, hyper-focused, and creative, they can find being a police officer rewarding, especially when dealing with constant challenges and adrenaline-induced situations.
4. Daycare worker
With ADHD commonly linked to criticism from others, those living with the condition have faced more social and emotional challenges than those without. As such, choosing a job that involves helping others can be an empowering career move.
A 2019 research suggests that dealing with criticism teaches self-compassion, which can help you better understand and connect with others and their feelings.
If you like juggling tasks and enjoy being around kids, consider becoming a daycare worker. It’s a job where every day is different, which suits people with ADHD.
You’ll spend your time cleaning up, playing with children, and organising activities, which can be a productive way to use your energy.
Plus, this career values the ability to empathise and identify emotions in others, which makes those with ADHD excellent candidates for this role.
Creative professions such as writing can appeal to individuals with ADHD, as research suggests they can tap into their creativity more effortlessly than those without the condition.
Putting words to work as a career choice is another good option for people with ADHD. Roles like journalist, copywriter, or editor require daily engagement with various topics and may demand sudden location changes, making the most ADHD’s abundant energy and creativity.
In fact, many famous writers and authors who have ADHD have gone on to do well.
For example, Dev Pilkey is a wildly successful children’s book writer of “Captain Underpants” and “Dog Man.”
Jules Verne was a famous French novelist who wrote “A Journey to the Center of the Earth.” George Bernard Shaw was a well-known playwright and Nobel prize winner.
Meanwhile, Lisa Ling, a journalist and television personality, was diagnosed with ADHD at age 40 when she worked on an episode about ADHD for her show, “Our America With Lisa Ling.”