Ten Good Professions For People With ADD


Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD), may sound like medical conditions that would be liabilities in the workplace. David Neeleman, the founder and chairman of the Board of Directors of Jet Blue (JBLU), who also has been diagnosed with ADD, begs to differ. ‘Your brain just thinks differently,’ Neeleman has said. ‘And you can come up with things.’ (Like, say, an idea for a new kind of airline.)

In reality ADD and ADHD may not be as much of a deficit as a proclivity towards certain types of careers. Negative traits typically include impulsivity, fidgeting and distraction, but the positives are enthusiasm for projects, energy and creative problem solving. (Neeleman has said he thinks Bill Clinton may have ADD, too.)

The following are insights into 9 additional careers where the best way to be successful is to not sit still:

Wall Street Trader

Traders make decisions about the market in real time while they ‘watch two or three screens, talk on the phone and still stay aware of any conversations happening nearby that they might need to participate in,’ says former Wall Street trader David Neubert. Therefore it’s imperative for them not to concentrate too much on any one thing for too long.

Improv Comedian

The point of improvisational comedy is to adjust to the whims of the other actors and the audience instantaneously. ‘If I decide I'm queen of Arabia and my partner says that we're pumping gas in Houston, the first line wins,’ comedy veteran Lauren Schnipper says. ‘You have to think on your feet and change your mind at the last second depending on your scene partner.’


Natalie Walsh from the New York City bar The Scratcher says that bartending involves keeping track of ‘a whole lot of things at once and keeping the thread going.’ Attention needs to be split between the customers at the bar and the wait staff, and ‘you don’t need a long memory for it.’


‘You’re making a new instantaneous decision every time you press the button,’ says Christopher Smith, who often shoots for The New York Times (NYT). Smith adds photography can be ‘an incredibly improvisational medium and you have to be hyperaware of everything around you.’

Sous Chef

Josh Jones, the Sous Chef of Chicago’s Spring Restaurant , is always on his feet and he loves it. Growing up he had a hunch that he had ADD because he felt anxious sitting in classrooms, but he only got diagnosed in culinary school. His kitchen is ideal because it involves ‘running around instead being restless in a seat.’

Public Relations Executive

Emily Heyward, who co-founded the creative consulting firm Red Antler, says ‘the jobs where you're working for multiple clients’ are best for ADD types because ‘every hour you could be dealing with a completely different industry. Within one day I might be working in beauty products, vitamins, an Internet company and sports.’


Brooke Heiser, a middle school teacher, explains that in the field of education ‘you are on all day’ and ‘you have to know what’s going on with all of [the students] all the time.’ The kids are continually asking questions and the teacher has to ‘constantly meet their needs in many different ways.’


During Metermaids DJ Mills’ gigs, he never plays an entire song because he and the crowd ‘don't have the patience to listen to it.’ He adds that DJ’s also usually ‘try to alter songs because they get bored with the original versions.’ The more impulsive and creative a DJ is, the more likely the audience is to stick around to groove.

Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents are pulled in a number of different directions every day, often concurrently. Corcoran broker Nicole Goldberg sums it up best: ‘Right now for example, I am typing this with one hand, on the phone with a seller regarding a price reduction, and mentally developing our next quarterly newsletter.’


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