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23 min read

10 best and worst jobs for people with OCD

Written by Saya Des Marais

Published: Apr 25, 2024

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Geralyn Dexter

Table of contents

Living with OCD can make all aspects of life, including work, more challenging. The best jobs for people with OCD are often low-stress and provide enough flexibility to allow time for treatment. But, just like people without OCD, people with OCD can thrive in any profession. It’s important to consider your unique attributes and interests, not just your diagnosis when choosing a career path.

With the right OCD treatment, you can succeed in every area of your life. In this article, we go over 10 of the best and worst jobs for people with OCD as well as tips on how you can thrive professionally in any position without letting OCD hold you back.

Take charge of your OCD symptoms. Schedule an appointment with a provider on Klarity today.

Employment and OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), is a mental health condition that affects 2 to 3% of the population. It’s often misunderstood as a condition that causes people to need their surroundings to be clean and orderly. While this is true for some people with OCD, it is a gross generalization of what OCD actually looks like.

OCD causes 2 main symptoms: obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions are persistent intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that cause a lot of fear, anxiety, disgust, or shame. People with OCD need to perform compulsions to try to rid themselves of the uncomfortable feelings or to prevent the feared event from coming true.

The painful symptoms of OCD can make work (and other parts of life) challenging; one study found that around one-third of adults with OCD were unable to work because of the condition. Although OCD is a serious health condition that requires treatment, many people with OCD are gainfully employed and have thriving and successful professional lives.

The unique abilities of someone with OCD

Just like people without OCD, people with OCD are unique individuals with unique abilities. It can be good to play to those strengths when choosing a job. Qualities like cleanliness and attention to detail are unique OCD “strengths.” But not everyone with OCD has obsessions about cleanliness and order — these are symptoms of OCD, not strengths.

One strength that many people with OCD do have is empathy. Because OCD tends to cause so much emotional distress, if you have OCD, you may be more likely to be able to empathize with others’ suffering. This compassion can make you a great fit for positions that involve helping people.

People with OCD who’ve gone through the right treatment (exposure therapy) are also often more likely to be able to withstand uncertainty. OCD can lead to such a high intolerance for uncertainty that it’s often called the “doubting disorder.” But, through treatment, people with OCD are taught to come face-to-face with uncertainty and learn how to accept it. This is an important life skill that can be a strength in many careers.

The best work environments for people with OCD

When you live with a mental health condition like OCD, it may be a good idea to look for a low-stress work environment, especially when you’re first starting treatment. OCD recovery can take a lot of time and effort, and it’s essential to focus on your well-being. High stress levels can trigger OCD symptoms or make them worse.

The best work environments for people with OCD are supportive and non-judgmental. It’s ideal to work with a manager and colleagues who are open to talking about mental health issues and actively work toward undoing the stigma. 

The best types of jobs for people with OCD

It’s important not to generalize people who live with OCD. If you live with OCD, you can succeed in any type of job, especially those that play to your unique strengths and interests. 

Jobs that require your complete attention

Generally, jobs that require you to be completely present are beneficial for people with OCD. When the task at hand requires 100% of your attention, you may be less likely to give in to rumination and obsessive thinking spirals. 

Jobs that encourage checking things over

If you live with the “just right” subtype of OCD or struggle with checking compulsions, then it may be a good idea to work in a role where this type of checking isn’t only permitted but encouraged. This can make it less likely that your performance might be questioned because of the effects of your compulsive behaviors.

But remember that any type of compulsion, including checking, makes OCD worse in the long run. If you choose a job that plays off your checking compulsions, ensure you’re in treatment so that you can work toward no longer needing to double-check things to relieve your obsessions.

Creative jobs

Many people with OCD succeed in creative positions. For example, Howie Mandel, a recognized producer and TV personality, is open about his struggles with OCD. Creative positions may provide work environments that are less judgmental about mental health issues and behavioral differences. 

Remote jobs

Any type of remote job can give you the flexibility that’s often needed when you live with a mental health condition like OCD. With a remote job, it may be easier to take time away for treatment and appointments. You may also be able to flex your time when you’re having an OCD flare-up.

The 10 best jobs for people with OCD

Here are 10 of the best jobs for people with OCD.

1) OCD therapist

    One of the best jobs for people with OCD can be to use their experiences to help other people with the same condition. If you live with OCD yourself, you are more likely to be able to understand and have compassion for others with OCD. This can make you an excellent therapist specializing in treating others with OCD.

    2) Proofreader, editor, or writer

      Proofreading, editing, and writing are all jobs that can be done remotely, which can make them good career options for someone with OCD. This is also an example of a job in which checking is encouraged — but remember to be mindful of giving in to compulsions too much. For example, if you have just-right OCD, limit yourself to checking content a few times instead of compulsively checking it until it feels “right.”

      3) Designer

        If you’re a creative person, there are many career options in the field of design — including graphic designers, UX designers, and more. These jobs can also be done remotely, which can help provide you with flexibility for treatment.

        4) Artist, musician, content creator, or actor

          Being a creator, like an artist or musician, can be a great job for artistic people with OCD. It can give you a public platform to raise awareness about OCD if you choose to do so.

          5) Cloud architect or software engineer

            Cloud architects and engineers are among the top-paying jobs. They can also be done remotely or on-site and may be a good option for you if you live with OCD. This job can give you the flexibility and resources often needed to get the right treatment, especially if you can work remotely or choose a hybrid schedule. 

            6) Teacher

              Overall, teaching is one of the most stressful jobs out there, but it can also be very rewarding. In addition, teaching is a job that typically requires 100% of your presence and attention. When focused on students, it may be easier to stay away from rumination. In addition, working with students with special needs, including children with OCD themselves, can be rewarding.

              7) Researcher

                Being a researcher can be a great choice for people with OCD because it requires attention to detail and complete focus. Conducting research in the field of mental health and OCD itself may be especially rewarding for those with OCD.

                8) Accountant

                  Accounting is a structured profession that requires attention to detail and precision, which can make it appealing to people with OCD. In addition, accountants often have to deal with assessing and managing financial risks; it’s necessary to be able to withstand a certain level of uncertainty, which people who’ve received OCD treatment are often good at.

                  9) Medical professions

                    Although medical professions are often difficult for people with OCD, especially those with contamination OCD with obsessive fears of blood and other bodily fluids, it may also be a good opportunity to practice exposing yourself to these fears (which is the only way to get over them). Lower-pressure medical professions, like ultrasound technicians or radiation specialists, may be a better choice for people with OCD.

                    10) Childcare provider

                      Being a childcare provider can be very meaningful for people with OCD. This career may also play to your strength of empathy, as you may be able to have more compassion for children with diverse needs who need different kinds of support.

                      The worst types of jobs for people with OCD

                      Trying to manage OCD or any other mental health issue is stressful in any profession, but some job environments may be more challenging if you have OCD.

                      High-stress jobs

                      Stress has a major impact on overall mental health; high stress levels have been linked to worse depression and anxiety, and can also trigger symptoms of OCD. This isn’t to say that people with OCD are unable to cope with stress, especially with treatment. But it’s important to keep in mind that a high-stress job may exacerbate your symptoms.

                      Jobs that constantly trigger OCD symptoms

                      If you haven’t undergone treatment for OCD, then it may be a bad idea to choose a job that constantly triggers your OCD fears. For example, if you live with pedophilia OCD, it may be too triggering to take a job working with children. If you live with contamination OCD, it may be overwhelming to get a job cleaning dirty houses. Eventually, it will become necessary to face your OCD fears — but it’s best to do this with the support of a professional.

                      Jobs with judgmental managers

                      The last thing you need when grappling with OCD is a manager who’s judgmental toward mental health issues. Having a good, understanding manager can make all the difference when working with OCD. 

                      Decision-making jobs

                      Jobs that require quick and high-pressure decision-making may be challenging for someone with OCD because of the rumination and overthinking that tend to come along with the condition.

                      The 10 worst jobs for people with OCD

                      Here are some jobs that may be challenging for people with OCD. You may notice that some jobs are listed in both “best” and “worst” jobs; this is to make it clear that although OCD symptoms can make some of these jobs more difficult, people with OCD can succeed in any profession with the right support.

                      It’s also critical not to choose a career based on its ability to help you avoid OCD triggers. It may feel necessary to avoid constant triggers in the early stages of treatment, but overall, avoidance only makes OCD worse. Choose your career path based on what you’re passionate about, not what you’re afraid of. Treatment can help you learn to manage the triggers and your responses. 

                      With that said, here are the top 10 jobs that could be difficult for you if you live with OCD.

                      1) Human resources

                      Human resources positions typically require you to manage a lot of conflict between employees, which could be upsetting and cause stress for people with OCD. You may also need to make difficult decisions (like terminating people’s employment), which can be difficult for people with OCD who struggle with hyperresponsibility.

                      2) Nursing

                      Nursing, along with many other medical professions, is one of the most stressful careers overall, with around two-thirds of nurses experiencing burnout. Stress is one of the worst things for overall mental health, so this may be a challenge if you already live with a mental health condition like OCD. 

                      3) Flight attendant or pilot

                        Flight attendants and pilots are high-pressure careers that require you to make on-the-spot decisions, which could be difficult for people with OCD, who sometimes tend to overthink. 

                        4) Childcare provider

                          Being a childcare provider can be a meaningful career for people who live with OCD, but it may be too triggering for people who have active obsessions about children or contamination.

                          5) Police officer

                            Police officers need to make quick decisions that are often a matter of life and death. It’s also one of the most stressful jobs. These 2 factors can make it difficult for someone with OCD to cope well with being a police officer.

                            6) Politician

                              For many people with OCD, working as a politician may come with too much pressure. Not only do you need to make quick decisions, but you also need to be comfortable with being publicly shamed or taking responsibility when things go wrong — something that many people, including those with OCD, may have a hard time with.

                              7) Judge

                                Being a judge is consistently ranked as one of the most stressful jobs, which may make it a poor choice for people who live with mental health conditions, including OCD.

                                8) Military personnel

                                  Being a soldier or military personnel can be very stressful. It can also require you to be away from home, which may limit your access to your support network and treatment team. If you’re in OCD treatment, then this may be difficult to handle.

                                  9) Teacher

                                    Being a teacher can be very rewarding and meaningful for people with OCD, which is why it’s also included in our list of the best jobs for people with OCD. But teaching is also consistently listed as one of the most challenging and stressful positions. Some people with OCD may find the stress to be too much.

                                    10) Freelancer or consultant

                                      On one hand, being a freelance worker can provide you with the flexibility that’s often needed while you’re in treatment or having a flare-up. But it’s also important to keep in mind that freelance jobs don’t come with any benefits, including health benefits. This means that you will need to pay for health insurance out-of-pocket if not covered by your spouse’s plan, and getting treatment may become trickier.

                                      Strategies for OCD sufferers to maximize success in any workplace

                                      These lists of the best and worst jobs for people with OCD can give you an idea of where to start,  but it’s important to clarify that people with OCD, especially well-managed OCD, can succeed in any profession. On the flip side, if you live with untreated OCD, it may be difficult to cope with any job. 

                                      The important thing is to learn how to manage your symptoms so that you can thrive in any job you choose.

                                      Managing stress and anxiety at work

                                      One of the most important factors of working with OCD is learning how to manage work-related stress and anxiety. Stress can trigger a multitude of mental health problems and make OCD symptoms worse. 

                                      You can manage stress and maintain a good work-life balance by:

                                      • Asking for accommodations; OCD is considered a disability through the American Disabilities Act, so don’t be afraid to ask for reasonable accommodations that will help you complete job tasks more easily. According to the ADA, you may have the right to accommodations if you live with OCD.
                                      • Regularly engaging in stress-relief and relaxation techniques, even when you’re not actively under stress. For example, take mindful breaths or go for a walk during your lunch breaks.
                                      • Practicing healthy lifestyle habits. Stress management at work doesn’t stop in the workplace. The habits you form and practice outside of work, including your sleep, exercise, and eating habits, play a big role in how stressed you feel overall.

                                      How to stay focused and productive with OCD

                                      OCD obsessions and compulsions can take up 100% of your time and energy when they are out of control. When you’re in an OCD spiral, it can feel impossible to stop obsessing and focus on work tasks. Treatment can help, and it’s often the only thing that helps reduce obsessive thinking. 

                                      Awareness and treatment can help you be mindful of your triggers and symptoms and how your workplace exacerbates them. For example, your boss might ask you to double-check everything, and this may lead to a compulsion for you. Or you might find yourself compulsively avoiding triggers at work. These aren’t healthy ways to manage OCD and can often make it even more difficult to concentrate and perform your best.

                                      Create a support network in and out of work

                                      Having a strong support network you can lean on is one of the most important aspects of learning to live with OCD. It’s a personal decision whether to tell your colleagues or manager about your OCD diagnosis. Some people find it helpful both to request accommodations and to receive support, but you know your company culture best. 

                                      Whether or not you decide to disclose your diagnosis at work, focus on building a strong support network of friends, family members, and colleagues who you can go to for support and understanding.

                                      Get the help of a professional

                                      A mental health professional can play an important role in your support network and help you learn how to manage OCD symptoms. To manage OCD well, professional treatment is required. There are very effective OCD treatments out there, and a mental health professional can understand your options and decide what’s best for you.

                                      Key takeaway 

                                      OCD can undoubtedly make working difficult. But with the right treatment, you can manage symptoms and succeed in any career you choose. In general, especially if you haven’t undergone treatment, it may be best to choose a low-stress job if you live with OCD. The best jobs for people with OCD allow enough flexibility for treatment. Keep in mind that you are a unique individual with unique talents, strengths, and interests. These things are more important to keep in mind when choosing a career path than your diagnosis.

                                      Put OCD to work for you

                                      Life doesn’t have to be this way forever. There are effective treatments available, and you can live well with OCD and enjoy a rewarding, successful career. Find an OCD provider on Klarity today to get treatment for OCD.


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                                      The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.

                                      If you’re having a mental health crisis or experiencing a psychiatric emergency, it’s crucial to seek immediate help from a mental healthcare professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. You can also call your local emergency services, visit your nearest emergency room, or contact a crisis hotline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, by calling or texting 988 or dialing the Lifeline’s previous phone number, 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) in the U.S.

                                      How we reviewed this article: This article goes through rigorous fact-checking by a team of medical reviewers. Reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the author.

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