I Have OCD – What is the Best Job For Me?
You were recently diagnosed with OCD. You are terrified. You just entered college with dreams to become a top-notch attorney, but now, you are not so sure your dreams can or will come true. Yes, you have been struggling with intrusive thoughts, paralyzing fears, and rigid rituals for a while, but OCD? You never thought you would be diagnosed with OCD. Now, what? Does that mean that you won’t be able to become an attorney?
If not an attorney, then what? You are majoring in pre-law, but maybe you should change. What if this career path is not the right one for you? What if your condition prevents you from excelling in the law field? You cannot help but wonder what types of jobs are good for people with OCD. You want to be successful in life, how can you do that if you are unsure or unaware of the best types of jobs for OCD sufferers?
What should you do? Well, the first step is to learn more about OCD (i.e., what it is, what causes it, how it is diagnosed, and how it is treated), and then research the types of jobs that can help people with OCD excel in life. The good news is with the right tools, OCD therapies, medications, natural remedies, and self-help tools, you can be successful – not just in life, but also in your career.
What is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) involves unwanted, involuntary, repetitive intrusive thoughts, urges, fears, doubts, negative emotions, mental images (obsessions), and/or ritualistic behaviors (compulsions). OCD can be life-altering as witnessed above. This anxiety condition can alter how you see yourself, others, and even the types of jobs you seek.
OCD can destroy relationships, cause your self-esteem and self-confidence to plummet, and/or lead to unemployment, especially if you go down the wrong career path. Stress and anxiety can trigger OCD symptoms in people with the condition. And, these symptoms can worsen these symptoms, leading to an OCD cycle of anxiety and stress – obsessions – more stress and anxiety – compulsions (to ease the stress and anxiety and stop the OCD symptoms).
This condition is usually diagnosed through self-reports, observations, and psychological assessments. There is no official “OCD blood test or x-ray” to diagnose the condition. OCD treatments typically encompass a multi-treatment approach – i.e., cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and/or exposure-response and prevention (ERP) therapy – with or without medication, like SSRI antidepressants (i.e., Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, or Zoloft).
Non-traditional OCD treatments may consist of natural remedies, self-help tools, and alternative/holistic methods, such as mindfulness meditation, CBD, hypnotherapy/hypnosis, healthy coping skills and mechanisms, OCD books, podcasts, forums, hotlines, and support groups, regular exercise, a healthy diet filled with lots of vitamins and minerals (i.e., magnesium), EDMR “trauma” therapy, TMS “trauma” therapy, addictions counseling, individual therapy, group therapy, couples counseling, family therapy, a strong support group, and/or an online OCD treatment program, like Impulse Therapy.
Can People with OCD Work?
Yes, people with OCD can work! But, because some OCD sufferers may require accommodations, it is considered a disability. Still, this should not prevent people with OCD from finding a job that suits them, and being successful in that job.
I Need a Job! What is the Best Job for Me?
Truthfully, some jobs are better suited for people with OCD. In general, OCD sufferers excel at jobs that require them to pay attention to details. Most of these individuals also prefer to work alone, and while some people would get lonely working independently, people with OCD tend to flourish in solitary environments.
Thus, the best jobs for OCD sufferers involve strict rules and guidelines, and the ability to check their work more than once. On the flip side, people with this condition should avoid jobs that involve bodily fluids, like blood or urine, or those that involve contaminates, germs, or bacteria, such as jobs in the science or medical field (i.e., scientist, phlebotomist, nurse, home health worker, or medical doctor).
Listed below are the best jobs for people with OCD:
- Proofreader, Editor, or Freelance Writer – Proofreading, editing, and writing jobs are good career choices for OCD sufferers because they allow them to work independently and double-check their work without scrutiny or criticism. People with OCD do not do well with micromanagers, so this is an ideal job for them. These jobs also tend to provide flexible hours, allowing OCD sufferers to work at their own pace – for the most part.
Moreover, most proofreaders, editors, and freelance writers can work remotely, so they do not feel the stress and anxiety of having to “perform” in front of others, or “hide” their OCD symptoms from others. Furthermore, these jobs require an ability to pay close attention to details and correct errors, which is a plus for people with OCD.
- Visual Artist – Many people with OCD love to create things. More specifically, they tend to be really good at expressing themselves through art – I.e., painting, sculpting, photography, and/or drawing. And, if these individuals are exceptionally good in this area, they can make a good living on their masterpieces.
FYI: Not all artists are “starving artists.” And, guess what? Art can ease your stress and calm your anxiety, which can help keep your OCD symptoms at bay. Your artwork may also be beneficial for other people, who are struggling with mental health conditions, like OCD, anxiety, and/or depression.
- Bookkeeper or Accountant – Bookkeeping and accounting are popular career choices among people with OCD because they involve strict rules and guidelines. Moreover, bookkeeping and accounting involve numbers – all day long. These jobs also require organization, because one error or misplaced total or calculation can cause strife to the client. Keep in mind that people with OCD typically like rules and regulations, along with orderliness, which is why these professions work for them.
- Web Designer or Web Developer – If writing jobs are not your “thing,” you may want to consider becoming a web designer or web developer. New businesses need expert web designers and/or developers to get their platforms up and running. Coding tools and “perfecting” programs and websites (based on the client’s requirements and preferences) is right up an OCD sufferer’s alley.
- Medical Coder – Medical coders are tasked with coding large amounts of health information. The goal of this job is to ensure that services are coded correctly and medical records are accurate and complete. Medical coders have access to personal medical records, which means that are responsible for checking the records – often several times. Many medical coders are also allowed to work remotely, which eases stress and anxiety. This job is detail-oriented and repetitive, which is right in the “wheelhouse” of people with OCD.
- Housekeeper – Because some people with OCD are “fixated” on cleanliness and orderliness, it makes sense that housekeeping may be the ideal job for them. Many OCD sufferers find joy and relief in cleaning homes, hotel rooms, apartments, businesses, etc. These individuals find real satisfaction in ensuring that facilities are free of germs, dirt, and other contaminants. OCD sufferers also like this job because it allows them to “straighten up” as they see fit – even if that means watering plants, picking up and washing dirty clothes, changing the sheets, washing dishes, etc. This job requires “perfection,” which is “perfect” for someone with OCD.
- Travel Agent – This may not seem like an awesome job for a person with OCD, but it is. It may seem like a simple and easy job – this could not be further from the truth. The truth is this job is complicated and detail-oriented, which can be an asset for OCD sufferers. Being a travel agent involves managing large amounts of information and ensuring that the client has an enjoyable, stress-free experience. This requires orderliness and “perfection” – two things OCD sufferers do best.
Mistakes are unacceptable for most travelers. Even better is that this job is usually “performed” from home. This job a high level of precision and paying attention to detail, which is why people with OCD tend to do well in this job. Moreover, being a travel agent means you must be aware of and adhere to travel and country/state rules and regulations to avoid inconveniences and extra fees.
- Online Instructor – A good job for an OCD sufferer is online teaching. An online instructor must have expertise in one or more areas, which play into an OCD sufferer’s strengths. Some people with OCD like to have things “just right” or “perfect,” and they also like to be “experts” in their field, so it just makes sense that this would be a good job for these individuals.
Another perk? Online teaching. Most primary and secondary schools, along with some colleges and universities offer online courses or programs, which allow teachers and instructors to work from home. This is a benefit for OCD sufferers, who tend to prefer to work in solitude (due to their OCD symptoms).
- Warehouse Worker (Packer or Loader) – People with OCD tend to excel at loading and packing because it offers a consistent, stable, and predictable work environment. Packers are tasked with maintaining records, products, and shipments.
- Solider – Contrary to popular belief, people with OCD can have a successful military career. Some OCD sufferers are “perfectionists,” who crave order, rules, guidelines, regulation, and structure – elements found in the military. People with OCD also tend to have good work ethics, which bodes well in the military. Moreover, these individuals value orderliness, cleanliness, and following rules, which makes this the ideal job for someone with OCD.
- Quality Control Inspector – If you have OCD, you may want to consider becoming a quality control inspector. Quality control inspectors assess products before and after they are created and distributed. The goal of quality control inspectors is to ensure that clients or customers are receiving the best version of the product or service.
As a quality control inspector, you are responsible for checking for product or service errors, defects, and manufacturing mistakes. This is a highly repetitive job in that someone pays close attention to details. This job is ideal for OCD sufferers because typically want things to be “top-notch,” “just right,” and “perfect,” so this is an area that these individuals tend to excel in.
- Life Coach – An OCD sufferer can have an amazing career as a life coach. Because people with OCD are not in control of their OCD symptoms, controlling other people or feeling like they are in control of other people, even if in the grand scheme of things, they are not, can be soothing to people with this condition. More specifically, easing the stress and anxiety of other people can also ease the stress of the OCD sufferer. It’s a good option to help others in overcoming their fears and anxiety. This career allows you to help other people – while also helping yourself.
- Transcriber – The goal of a transcriber is to take an audio file, “transcribe” or “translate” the information, and put it in a document. Most transcribers “transcribe” medical and legal audio files (i.e., for doctors and lawyers). Court transcribers document what is said in court, while medical transcribers “transcribe” patient interactions. You can work in other industries, like transcribing videos for closed captions. Another perk?
- Social Media Consultant – Social media consultants are adept at helping businesses to build an online presence. These consultants are also tasked with creating enticing campaigns, posts, blogs, forums, videos, and online advertisements to help sell products and services. Social media consultants are also good at multi-tasking or dealing with more than one project simultaneously. People with OCD tend to have these skills, which could help them be successful in this field. More specifically, OCD sufferers, who choose this career path, ensure that things are on track while helping businesses grow and flourish.
- Circuit Board Electronic Technician – Circuit board electronic technicians perform detailed inspections of various circuit boards. These individuals are responsible for visually inspecting items, like the quality of solder joints, and whether or not components are accurately placed. Technicians not only make modifications to circuit boards but also meticulously document data. This job requires an ability to check for imperfections while providing a highly detailed work environment for OCD sufferers.
Are There Some Jobs I Should Avoid?
Yes, there are some jobs you should avoid if you have OCD.
Some jobs demand that the individual be highly active and social, which can be extremely stressful and anxiety-provoking for OCD sufferers. Moreover, these types of jobs make it hard for these individuals to perform the rituals or routines needed to get through the workday. Thus, these jobs should be avoided, if possible.
These jobs are listed below:
- Customer service representative
- Entertainer (i.e., musician)
- Flight attendant
- Sales representative
- Taxi driver
- Childcare provider
- Nurse or Doctor
- Newspaper reporter or anchor
- Public speaker
- Social media influencer
Is There Anything I Can Do to Get Through the Workday?
Yes, there are several things you can do to get through your workday, such as:
- Bring in some noise-canceling headphones and turn on some soothing tunes (I.e., classical, R&B, easy listening, instrumental, etc.) to block out the intrusive thoughts, fears, urges, etc., and focus on your tasks.
- Remove “knick-knacks” from your desk. If you have a lot of unnecessary “things” on your desk or in your office, you are bound to get distracted. Too many “things” could also place you at risk of getting caught up in an OCD loop of organizing and re-organization them.
- Always keep hand sanitizer at your desk to help you feel more protected from germs, dirt, and contamination.
- Rest and relax your mind (i.e., mindfulness meditation) during lunch and breaks. This will ease any mounting stress and anxiety, and help you stay centered during the day.
- Explain to your boss and co-workers (that you trust) what is going on with you, so they know what to do when your OCD symptoms pop up.
- Painter, S. (n.d.). Careers for people with OCD. LovetoKnow. Retrieved from https://jobs.lovetoknow.com/careers-people-ocd