Adult ADHD and Career Choices

September 8, 2014 Elizabeth Prager

I'm here to talk to you today about how to make a career choice that would work well with your adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I had a great job in Boston working for the Unitarian Universalist Association and I loved my supervisor and my colleagues. Still, there was always something about sitting behind a desk that just didn't work for me.

What career is right for you? Does it make you want to sing when you get up in the morning? How does adult ADHD affect career choice?

I remember very clearly the day my lovely wife, Sarah, and I sat at Borders (yes, it was a few years ago and the wonderful store that was Borders still existed) looking through books about career advice. (We bought none of them and this could certainly be one reason why Borders went out of business.)

Career Book Advice

The books revealed to me that I was meant to be either in education or in medicine. I immediately went to the test prep book section and bought one to prepare for the Massachusetts Teacher's License Exam (MTEL). First, let me say, it was great to study for this exam. I had recently broken my foot and had five weeks of bed rest ahead of me to allow the bone time to heal -- doing algebra was just what the doctor ordered.

My Career(s) with Adult ADHD

I took the exam a few months later and became a certified middle school math teacher! Hurrah! My career could finally begin!

And then, there were no job openings for me.

Teaching was going to provide me with the ability to bounce around in front of a classroom, interact with kids all day, spend some time with adults, and teach a different lesson each day. My adult ADHD me could really flourish it seemed. But alas, no jobs.

What next? Medicine. How about a field where jobs were plentiful and moving around was even more necessary than with teaching? Yes! Exactly! Enter physical therapy.

Well, rather, re-enter physical therapy. I had thought about this as a career since before college began, though going to Bryn Mawr College didn't lend itself to this career, because they had no program for it. Being a physical therapist allows me to bounce around just about all day and, better yet, I can change my specialty every few years if I feel like it. This is the perfect career for me and the way my brain works.

Thing is, too, it's a completely appropriate career. When you have adult ADHD, you don't need to work doing just anything. You can live your passion and support your brain at the same time. You just need to figure out what you love and how best to pursue that. I love helping other people and I love to educate. For me, physical therapy lets me educate others about how to best help themselves and their bodies. Pretty good deal, right?

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APA Reference
Prager, E. (2014, September 8). Adult ADHD and Career Choices, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Author: Elizabeth Prager

September, 22 2021 at 5:54 pm

As a physical therapist with adhd, have you ever requested accommodations for extended documentation time?

August, 15 2022 at 10:19 pm

Hi, this is something I am really struggling with as a PT with ADHD. Hopefully others might have some recommendations?

Dan C
May, 8 2019 at 1:41 pm

This post is so encouraging to me! I am on my first clinical in acute care, and I just had one of the worst days ever. I've been having doubts about my capability and motivation level for some time, and I just needed some reinforced confidence in my decisions. When you said you believe PT to be a "completely appropriate career", my heart soared. I only recently looked into ADHD and found out I had many of the behavioral characteristics, and it was a lot to take in. Luckily, I had a lot of external support from family and friends, but this post was the icing on the cake! Thank you so much!

October, 10 2018 at 4:45 pm

I’m currently a student working towards a degree to be a physical therapy assistant. I am worried this will be an especially difficult field for a person with adhd because of the large amount of detailed information to memorize and recall. Hoping I’m not wasting my time...

October, 21 2018 at 12:39 pm

Though it can be daunting, it seems like people with ADHD can have a wide variety of careers, including physical therapy! We all have our systems and coping methods to deal with the more difficult parts of our jobs, and I'm sure you will be able to develop those as time goes on. Worst case scenario: you don't like your job and find another, more fulfilling and appropriate one. Best of luck!

Michael E
February, 24 2015 at 1:45 am

Which career? I can't tell you how many careers I've had in my 60+years. I have learned through it all that I definitely need structure. Working for yourself doesn't seem to work. Too may things get in the way. Work that's too detailed doesn't work and I have had some real issues with authority. It's very difficult and frustrating to be in the job market again after all these years. Exercise and runs on the beach definitely help to keep me sane! Years ago, I was struck by a train. Someone suggested I read up on ADD. What a wake-up call! Too bad most of the research and concern seems to be with children. I bet there are millions of us out there! However, it's amazing what we can do when we put our minds to it. I excel at the Florida Senior Games, and have recently finished another book, "Against The Grain-Reflections of a Rogue Health Educator" (look for it soon, on-line). Good luck!

September, 12 2014 at 4:42 pm

I have been a speech pathologist and it is great for an ADHD person - except the paperwork. I worked in the schools and had different groups and ages. New group- every 30 minutes

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