For people living with OCD, finding the right job and a supportive workplace can be life-changing.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that is characterised by (unwanted) obsessive thoughts and repetitive, compulsive behaviours. Everyone's experience with OCD is different, but many people with OCD face challenges finding work and holding down a job.
It can be stressful to keep up with the demands of work when you're dealing with intrusive thoughts, uncontrollable behaviours and stigma from others. What's more, OCD is often accompanied by other conditions such as social anxiety or depression.
Despite the challenges, many people with OCD lead a successful and healthy work life in jobs that are meaningful and rewarding. At APM, we've seen first hand how having the right job in a supportive environment can lead to life-changing benefits.
In this guide, we look at the best jobs for people with OCD and jobs that are often challenging to cope with. Plus, where to get support finding a job that's right for you.
What are the best jobs for people with OCD?
Everyone has different needs and goals when it comes to work.
Just like everyone else, people with OCD excel in a wide range of jobs and workplaces. What might be right for one person might cause anxiety or stress for another. A person with OCD might succeed in a typically challenging role when they have the right support and accommodations.
If you're not sure what jobs are a good fit for you, consider talking with an employment consultant. They can help you brainstorm career pathways and discover job opportunities that match your interests, skills and needs.
Some of the best jobs for people with OCD include:
1. Flexible jobs
OCD symptoms can have a significant impact on daily life. Having some flexibility at work can help you better manage the ups and downs of your mental health.
Some jobs are flexible by nature, such as freelance photography, online tutoring and fitness coaching. You'll have more control over when you work and how much work you do.
For jobs with traditional schedules, accommodations can make the roles more manageable. For example, if you find it hard to get to work on time, your employer may be willing to let you have a flexible starting time. If you find it hard to get out of the house some days, you might be able to work from home when needed.
2. Part time jobs
If you find it challenging to cope with a full time schedule, consider working part time hours instead. Lots of jobs can be designed into part time roles, including teaching, administration, cleaning, bookkeeping and counselling. If you need further flexibility, your employer may also allow you to take time off for mental health appointments, treatments and recovery.
3. Low stress jobs
For many people with OCD, fast-paced and high-pressure jobs can be a source of stress and anxiety. Jobs like research analyst, data entry clerk and delivery driver are typically low-stress roles.
However, what might be low-stress for one person might be a triggering environment for someone else. Understanding the environments where you work best – and the environments that are most challenging for you – is an important step in the job search.
4. Jobs with structure and clear expectations
For many people with OCD, unexpected challenges and last-minute changes at work can be difficult to cope with. On the other hand, many people with OCD excel when they have a clear work structure and expectations.
Packing and shelf stocking jobs might be a good fit if you like routine. Accountants, librarians and lab technicians all have highly structured roles. But you don't have to work in a traditionally structured role to get the benefits of structure and routine.
Many other types of jobs can be redesigned to create more structure and ensure clear expectations. For example, your manager might provide you with a daily schedule or give you access to scheduling apps and software.
5. Detail oriented jobs
If you're good at checking the small details, your skills could make you a highly desirable candidate for certain jobs. Detail-oriented jobs like proofreading, data entry and quality inspecting could be a good fit. If you're looking for a more hands-on role, practical jobs like mechanics, construction and appliance repairs all require good attention to detail.
6. Independent work
If you find customer-facing roles or team-based work stressful, you might prefer a job where you can work independently. For some people with OCD, independent work improves focus and productivity.
Couriers, jewelers and cleaners often work on their own. Creative jobs like photography, copywriting and graphic design are also often highly independent. If you enjoy being part of a team, but find social interactions overwhelming, working from home part of the week could help you find the right balance.
7. Remote work
Working in a shared workplace can be triggering for some people with OCD, especially if you're also dealing with social anxiety. Working from home could give you more control over your environment and help you better manage OCD symptoms. Jobs you can do remotely include copywriting, transcribing, graphic design, accounting and audio engineering.
What are the worst jobs for OCD?
Although everyone's needs are different, the worst jobs for OCD tend to be high-stress and unpredictable. A lack of flexibility can also be challenging.
Keep these factors in mind to avoid the worst jobs for OCD:
- Unpredictability – if you find it hard to cope with change, jobs like fire fighting, journalism and ER nursing might not be the best fit.
- Tight deadlines – if you struggle with time management or keeping on top of deadlines, jobs with flexible hours might be more suitable.
- Social interaction and customer facing jobs – highly social roles like retail and customer service may be draining if they trigger OCD symptoms or cause anxiety.
- Decision-making jobs – perfectionism and black and white thinking can make decision-making roles like HR and management challenging.
Get support to find work
If you're living with OCD and need support to find or keep a job, APM is here for you. We help people with obsessive compulsive disorder and other anxiety disorders find meaningful work at no cost to you.
We understand everyone’s journey with employment is different. APM employment services are personalised to your situation and goals. Our employment consultants help find the best jobs for people with OCD, based on your interests, needs and priorities. We can also help you access workplace accommodations, financial assistance and other support to stay in work.
Find out more about our Disability Employment Services or call us on 1800 276 276 to get started.