The best job for an individual struggling with social anxiety is one that allows the person to contribute their skills and pursue their dreams without being put into a situation that exacerbates their mental health issues. Many of these jobs allow someone to deal with people in small numbers. However, those wishing to challenge themselves may choose a career field that pushes them to work with and overcome their anxiety over time.
Social anxiety manifests as a fear of dealing with people in certain social environments, such as the workplace. As an employee, social anxiety may cause symptoms while thinking about work, when working with customers or employees, or after dealing with a stressful situation in the workplace.
1. Veterinarian or Vet Tech
“One of the best jobs for social anxiety sufferers is veterinarian, or veterinarian tech. Animals provide a comforting bridge between human interactions. You are also more likely to deal with people one on one with the overall focus on the pet.” – Emma Jane Watson, M.Ed., MSW, LICSW
2. Gardener or Landscaper
“Apart from crowded rooms, meetings, and awkward conversations with colleagues, a person with social anxiety can enjoy time with the fresh air, sunshine, and nature provided by gardening or landscaping. A person with social anxiety can find these types of jobs more relaxing, and enjoyable than office work. This type of work also provides a sense of independence, flexibility, and achievement when clear results are seen every day.” – Aniko Dunn, licensed Psy.D. at EZCare Clinic
“People with social anxiety might find tutoring to be the perfect starter job. It allows timid individuals to practice social interaction with one or two people at a time. It’s ideal for those who find it very hard to interact with numerous people at a time. Moreover, tutoring is a flexible job; you can do it from your own home, from a client’s home or anywhere agreed.” – Pareen Sehat, Registered Clinical Counsellor, Well Beings Counselling
4. Bookkeeper, Tax Preparer, or Accountant
“Accounting could be the ideal job for somebody with social anxiety. Managing bookkeeping and financial details for businesses or individuals can give you the opportunity to work independently a lot of the time, putting your focus in reaching goals through your work.
There will always be a need to interact with other people, but this role allows the opportunity to have your core focus and confidence be in your independent work, while being able to challenge your fears in a gradual way through meetings with employers, or clients.” – Dr. Giuseppe Aragon, General Practitioner, M.D. Prescription Doctor
5. Data Entry, Statistician or Researcher
“A job for someone with social anxiety would need to be remote and require very little social interaction. It would also need to be a job with strict guidelines, concrete instructions, and clear start and stop parameters.
Both a statistician and a data entry clerk meet those requirements. Even better would be to work for a supervisor who served as a wall between others and the employee. This supervisor would provide tasks and feedback.” – Leann Poston M.D., M.B.A., M.Ed., Invigor Medical
6. Medical Billing & Coding
“A medical biller or someone in the remote data entry department of an organization is likely to be able to work from home with little to no direct interpersonal interaction required. Some individuals in this position will also be expected to communicate with insurance companies and patients over the phone regarding their bills. This position is good for those able to conduct phone conversations, but who may still have difficulty with in-person communication and interaction.” – Kerry Heath, LPC-S, NCC, CEDS-S
“Certain library positions may be a great choice for someone looking to limit their social interaction. While a job at the circulation desk or with the public computers may be overwhelming and involve difficult customer service, jobs like shelving and cataloging could be spent mostly alone taking care of inventory. There are a variety of different roles in a library, and some, like working in special collections, would involve some interactions with others. These may be a choice for those with more mild to moderate levels of anxiety.” – Melissa Boudin, PsyD
8. Mental Health Therapist
“Sometimes, the best way to address social anxiety is to increase social interactions in safe and controlled environments, Being a therapist allows frequent social interaction in ways that can add comfort and confidence in relationships outside of the workplace.” – Eric Patterson, LPC
9. Contractor, tradesperson or construction worker
“As an independent contractor one may work solo, continuing to learn new skills and trades with experience.” – Matt Glowiak, PhD, LCPC
10. Dog Groomer or Walker
“Working with animals generally provides opportunities to avoid anxiety provoking interactions for those with social anxiety. Working as a groomer or dog walker may limit interpersonal interaction more than training, as most dog owners will be asked to participate in the training process at some point.
These services can be provided at various locations including pet stores, private homes, and veterinary clinics. Each setting will offer different levels of comfort for the person dealing with social anxiety.” – Kerry Heath, LPC-S, NCC, CEDS-S
11. Internet-Based Recruiter
“A recruiter is one example [of a job for people with social anxiety], but there are many. Some recruiters are all internet based and merely try to bring in as many potential hires as possible. They collect resumes and personal information through email. They post job information on various sites.
Many work from home. They pass the information on to companies doing the hiring. Recruiters can transition to working at job fairs or live events. Some will even give public speeches. The range in social behavior can be quite broad. Some that I’ve spoken to enjoy talking and others want only specifics answered as quickly as possible.” – Jared Heathman, Texas Online Psychiatrist MD, White Coat HQ
12. Customer Service Support
“Now is the greatest time for those who suffer with moderate to severe social anxiety to seek out work from home opportunities such as customer service support (entry to corporate level) to online sales. The idea in finding the perfect job for someone suffering from social anxiety is to look for opportunities with fewer connections to large groups of people.” – Richale R Reed MA, LCMHCS, LCAS, Founder & CEO, INpower Consulting
“A florist position may offer varied degrees of exposure to others. Florists may be responsible for creating bouquets and designing arrangements, ordering products, and managing other aspects of the business. They might also be asked to take orders from customers, whether in-person or over the phone, though there may be the option of conducting much of the business online.” – Melissa Boudin, PsyD
14. Writer or Editor
“A career as a writer or editor is an option for those requiring a position that can be conducted from a home office with little to no interpersonal interaction. Most communication can be conducted via email rather than telephone reducing the overall level of anxiety experienced.
There are many types of writing positions available which can be tailored to the level of public interaction a person is ready to face based upon their condition. A freelance writer can take jobs at their leisure and may be subject to fewer deadlines than a person working for an organization with specific projects and demands that may increase a person’s anxiety.” – Kerry Heath, LPC-S, NCC, CEDS-S
15. Any Work From Home Job
“The pandemic has shifted millions of jobs into telecommute, Telehealth and work from home jobs – finance, customer service, some pharma jobs, even therapy. While some of these jobs may not provide for social growth opportunities, they will help people who struggle with more severe social anxiety work from a space they know and are comfortable with.” – Frank Thewes, LCSW
13 Tips for Navigating Any Job With Social Anxiety
Several therapists cautioned us against limiting the kinds of jobs one might choose when struggling to overcome social anxiety. Instead, they offered tips for dealing with social anxiety on the job.
Here are 13 tips for dealing with social anxiety in any workplace:
1. Remember That Social Anxiety Is Treatable
“Social anxiety is quite treatable with thorough counseling and/or medication. It should not forever relegate you to a position that avoids social situations. The ideal job while suffering from symptoms is likely a position that currently has limited social engagement but the potential to expand into more and more social functions. As treatment progresses, those suffering from social anxiety could then actively participate in exposure based therapies.” – Jared Healthman, MD, Texas Online Psychiatrist, White Coat HQ
2. Focus on What You Want, Not Your Anxiety
“Someone who experiences social anxiety and is looking for a new job should focus first on what they want do, what kind of job they want. That should be their first consideration. In most cases it isn’t necessarily beneficial to choose a career or job through the filter of social anxiety. People who experience social anxiety should consider pursuing the life they want to live rather than limiting their lives to accommodate social anxiety. Sometimes it may be necessary to choose a job that someone has identified fits into a healthy boundary for them based upon their history and the work they have done with regard to social anxiety.” – Frank Thewes, LCSW
3. Choose a Job With Flexibility
“Although it might seem that remote or isolated work would be best, that would be unlikely to improve the condition and might aggravate it. If the condition progresses to complete isolation, a high risk is created of serious depression. The best type of job, therefore, would be one that was flexible so that the socially phobic employee can attend therapy sessions and gradually increase or decrease interpersonal contact as treatment progress dictates.” – John F. Tholen, PhD, Retired Psychologist and author of Focused Positivity: The Path to Success and Peace of Mind
4. Pay Attention During Interviews & Watch for Toxic Culture
“The best fit job for someone with social anxiety often has to do more with company culture and environment than it does with work related tasks. Many workplaces are not supportive, have unhealthy pressures, or are truly toxic in nature. These types of environments are going to make asking for help or getting clear on work expectations incredibly hard, and most people won’t ever feel at ease. Jobs work best when they are something that we find interesting that matches our skill set as an employee. Outside of that, being mindful at interviews or from professional connections exactly which jobs are supportive and which jobs have toxic work cultures can help guide you to better fit jobs.” – Billy Roberts, LISW, Owner of Focused Mind ADHD Counseling
5. Exposure Is Better Than Avoidance
“People with social anxiety can do any number of jobs, so it would be easier to say what types of jobs they might want to avoid. A job in marketing, communications or sales requires a lot of networking and social interaction, whereas a job in accounting, legal, IT or operations tends to be more contained. It really depends on how the anxiety presents itself.
You have to know if you are someone who gets more anxious around strangers or around people you know well. Are you more anxious in large groups or in small groups? Anxiety manifests differently for different people and there are many ways to manage it, so I don’t like to limit people with mental health issues in any way.
The bottom line is that people can do amazing things when they want and I don’t believe in putting limitations on someone’s abilities because of a diagnosis.” – Dr. Joanna Massey, Doctor of Psychology, JDMA Inc
6. Consider Your Goals Regarding Your Social Anxiety
“Is your social anxiety something you would like to address in your next career move or is being less socially-anxious something you are not interested in working on? When you are going on an interview, you are finding out if the company is a match for you and they are finding out if you are a match for them. You can ask questions such as “Approximately how many clients will I help each day?” or “Will participating in public presentations or conferences be a part of my role?” Think of if the answers make sense for what you want to accomplish both professional and personally in this capacity. If you approach the job search in a thoughtful manner, you will find a position that is sustainable for your experience, personality and goals.” – Erica Cramer, LCSW, MBA, Psychotherapist at Cobb Psychotherapy
7. Ask About Training, Mentoring, & Feedback
“When interviewing with the company, ask about their training plan. Check to see if they have a mentoring program. Find out how and how often they provide feedback, making sure that they provide positive and constructive feedback regularly. Inquire about their plan to help you develop your skills and your career. You want to make sure they plan to invest in your career development.” – Lauran Hahn, LMHC, Owner of Mindful Living Counseling Orlando
8. Ask Who to Ask
“When doing the initial HR / training process, establish a point person that will be ready, willing, and able to answer any questions you might have as you begin your employment. Knowing that there is someone you can go to if/when you’re not sure about something and then setting the expectation with them that you may need to do so will be an initial relief.” – Linda Kudla, PsyD
9. Leave Your Door Open
“In many workplaces, it is easy to walk into your office or cubicle and isolate by shutting your door or putting on headphones. These actions may reduce the short-term anxiety, but they only make the long-term anxiety worsen. Spend time each day with the intention of being social, talking to more people, and increasing your accessibility to challenge and overcome your anxiety, rather than succumbing to it.” – Eric Patterson, LPC
10. Manage Your Expectations (Especially of Yourself)
“Most jobs are approachable if we have the right kind of support. When someone has social anxiety, it’s helpful for them to have clear work expectations. This is because uncertainty is usually a trigger for anxiety. One the one hand, this can come from creating structure for yourself at work or clarifying expectations with managers. On the other hand, this can come from managing your own sense of perfectionism. Oftentimes adults with social anxiety have unreasonable expectations of themselves, recognizing that you’re human and being more reasonable about time management can also help manage anxiety at any job.” – Billy Roberts, LISW, Owner of Focused Mind ADHD Counseling
11. Try Graded Exposure
“If you have social anxiety and are planning to get into a profession with as little direct social contact as possible, it would be good to look for little windows of time where you are exposed to others. This might involve encouraging yourself to attend a few meetings in-person (rather than remotely) or choosing to take some time to chat with your colleagues at least once a week. This gradual approach is consistent with what we call ‘graded exposure’ in therapy and it works great for social anxiety. By exposing yourself gradually to what you fear, interaction with others, you have a chance to slowly build your confidence and over time discover not only that social situations don’t need to be feared, but that they can bring fulfillment to your life.” – Dr Raffaello Antonino, Clinical Directory & Counselling Psychologist for Therapy Central
12. Work With a Therapist
“There are different types and sub-categories of anxiety, that’s why seeking a licensed professional mental health expert is important in this job seeking process. Avoid self-diagnosing at all costs to lessen the overwhelming frustration that is often a natural part of the job seeker’s journey. Not only can [a therapist] help you understand your type of anxiety and how to manage it, [they] can also provide ongoing support until you land and successfully transition into the job that leans to your strengths.” – Richale R Reed MA, LCMHCS, LCAS, Founder & CEO, INpower Consulting
13. Change Your Anxiety, Not Your Dreams
“I have seen so many clients who have been able to pursue jobs, hobbies, and activities they thought were not for them because of their social anxiety. Thankfully, they decided the anxiety was what needed to change—not their dreams or desires.” – Casey Cook, MS, LPC