Employment and Schizophrenia: 5 Best Jobs | MyDepressionTeam

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Employment and Schizophrenia: 5 Best Jobs

Medically reviewed by Andrew Turner, M.D.
Updated on April 10, 2024

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that typically starts to affect people between the ages of 16 and 30, the prime years for preparing for and starting a career. Unfortunately, symptoms like delusions, reduced motivation, and trouble concentrating can make finding the right job difficult. If you or a loved one has schizophrenia, you may have wondered whether people living with the condition can work.

A combination of psychological treatments and medication can help control schizophrenia symptoms, improving success at school, at work, and in relationships. In addition, getting a job that plays to your strengths and offers some flexibility can give you the best chance of success.

Here are five suggestions to consider in your job search if you’re living with schizophrenia.

1. Library Jobs

Working as a librarian or library assistant provides you the chance to work independently in a quiet work environment. Libraries may offer part-time and full-time positions, letting you achieve a better work-life balance.

Since libraries offer community programs, your job may include managing social-media messaging, assisting with events, and filing and organizing library resources.

2. Data Entry

Data entry clerks focus on organizing and inputting data into computer systems. This job typically requires attention to detail and accuracy. It doesn’t involve much social interaction or decision-making. The structured and repetitive nature of data entry tasks may be well-suited for someone with schizophrenia, bringing more routine and structure to daily life.

Some data entry jobs can be done remotely, giving you added flexibility. Other jobs that require computer-based skills, like coding or graphic design, may offer a similarly quiet and independent atmosphere.

Jobs that require computer-based skills, like coding or graphic design, may offer a quiet and independent atmosphere.

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3. Building Websites or Coding

Web development is a rapidly growing field that may have flexible hours and offer the option of working from home. Web development boot camps or other online courses can give you the skills you need to get hired in the tech field. If you’re computer-savvy, this career path could be a great option.

4. Laboratory Technician

Laboratory technicians work in controlled environments, conducting scientific experiments and tests. This job demands precision and adherence to protocols. Compared to other job settings, working in a lab offers a solitary environment with minimal social interactions.

You may find lab jobs available at a local hospital or university. These large organizations may also provide health benefits and other supportive resources for employees that can be beneficial for people with schizophrenia.

5. Peer Support Specialist

Peer support specialists have personal experience with mental health conditions, including schizophrenia. They use their recovery journey to support others facing similar challenges. This role often involves providing emotional support, sharing coping strategies, and assisting in treatment planning.

The peer support model fosters empathy and understanding, creating a safe space to connect with others. You may be responsible for running support groups, working with people one-on-one, and helping families understand what their loved one may be going through.

This type of work can be empowering for someone with schizophrenia because it gives them a chance to learn more about their condition while helping others.

Workplace Accommodations for Americans With Disabilities

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the rights of people, including those with mental health conditions like schizophrenia. The ADA outlaws employers from discriminating against qualified candidates with disabilities during recruitment, hiring, training, job assignments, promotions, and more. Schizophrenia employment discrimination is not allowed under the ADA.

The Americans With Disabilities Act protects the rights of people with mental health conditions like schizophrenia.

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Under the ADA, employers also must offer reasonable accommodations to help people with disabilities to do their jobs effectively. Reasonable accommodations can vary but may include:

  • Breaks and time off — Offering additional breaks or paid time off as needed to manage symptoms and prevent burnout
  • Communication accommodations — Implementing clear and direct communication strategies, such as written instructions or email communication, for those who struggle with face-to-face interactions
  • Flexible work hours — Allowing employees to adjust their work schedules to attend therapy appointments or receive medical treatments
  • Job restructuring — Modifying job tasks or responsibilities to better suit an individual’s strengths and abilities
  • Workstation modifications — Providing assistive technologies or ergonomic adjustments to ensure a comfortable and productive workspace

Keep in mind that the law doesn’t require your job to make accommodations that would cause “undue hardship” for the employer. That’s why it’s important to collaborate with your employer to find solutions that work for you and them.

Finding and Maintaining a Job With Schizophrenia

For someone living with schizophrenia, finding and maintaining a job can be a challenge, even if they’ve identified the career path they wish to take. Find a path that aligns with your strengths, whether that be quantitative skills, creativity, or a desire to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Once you have found employment, it’s important to prioritize self-care, such as attending regular doctor’s appointments and taking all of your medications as prescribed. If you feel safe doing so, reporting your condition to your employer can help ensure you have disability protections and can get the accommodations that you need.

By finding the right balance and support system, people with schizophrenia can pursue fulfilling opportunities aligned with their abilities and goals.

What To Do When Work Isn’t Working Out

Employment isn’t always the best option for everyone with schizophrenia. Although many people with the condition find strategies to manage their symptoms (and some even go into complete remission), others experience worsening symptoms over time. Work may involve too many stressful situations that set people with schizophrenia or other mental health conditions back. In addition, the stigma of having a serious mental illness can affect your employment options when living with schizophrenia.

Although the prospect of sharing one’s mental health issues with an employer may be stressful, some members of MyDepressionTeam have had positive experiences disclosing their condition.

“My manager was quite supportive. I work in admin with the government, and I was surprised and am grateful that he listened and then asked me what I needed,” shared one member.


My manager was quite supportive. I work in admin with the government, and I was surprised and am grateful that he listened and then asked me what I needed.

— A MyDepressionTeam member on disclosing their schizophrenia diagnosis to their employer

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What if Your Employer Isn’t Supportive?

If your employer isn’t supportive, it may be time to seek other options. Another member offered encouraging words for those who struggle to maintain a job: “Just do the best you can. You need to focus on getting better overall. You can always get another job if this one doesn’t work out, but you can’t get another brain or another body. I know money is going to be an issue if you don’t focus on work, but in the long run, it’s going to be a lot worse if you haven’t improved mentally rather than financially.”

Do You Need To Take a Break From Working?

With the guidance of your health care provider and a social worker, you can decide if working is right for you at this time. It’s OK to take a break from employment if you need to focus on other aspects of life, like securing housing and other basic needs. Find out if you qualify for Social Security or disability benefits to help you get through times of unemployment.

Members of MyDepressionTeam, even those without schizophrenia, may be able to relate to your situation. “My bipolar disorder, along with chronic migraines, caused me to have great struggles with employment,” explained one member. “My resume looks like Swiss cheese. I was let go from jobs because of absences. After 25 years in the workforce, the majority as a teacher, I have applied for disability. Getting a job isn’t the problem. … It’s being able to keep it. At my last job, I was taking anywhere from two to 10 days a month off from calling out due to depression or migraine.”

Jobs You Might Want To Avoid With Schizophrenia

Everyone with schizophrenia has different symptoms and capabilities, and good treatment can help keep your schizophrenia symptoms in check. However, there are some career trajectories you may want to avoid if you’re living with schizophrenia.

  • Sedentary jobs, if you have difficulty with executive functioning, attention span, or processing speed
  • Jobs where you feel stigmatized for your schizophrenia, whether from bosses, coworkers, clients, or customers
  • Physical work, such as construction or driving, if you experience visual hallucinations that may make working conditions dangerous for you or others

If your current job isn’t working out, life may be pulling you in a new direction. The right job may come along through a small business or a supported employment arrangement that suits your needs. Or, you may find that working just isn’t for you. In the meantime, finding hobbies you enjoy, volunteering, and increasing your skills through job training can open you up to new opportunities and experiences.

Talk With Others Who Understand

On MyDepressionTeam — the social network for people with mental health disorders and their loved ones — more than 146,000 members from around the world come together to ask questions, offer support and advice, and connect with others who understand life with depression, schizophrenia, and other mental health issues.

Does having schizophrenia influence the type of jobs you pursue? Have you found work that is a good fit? If you’re looking for employment, what’s your ideal work environment? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a discussion on your Activities page.

Updated on April 10, 2024
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Andrew Turner, M.D. completed medical school at Creighton University School of Medicine. Learn more about him here.
Anastasia Climan, RDN, CDN is a dietitian with over 10 years of experience in public health and medical writing. Learn more about her here.

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