Jobs for people with BPD

Naomi Carr
Author: Naomi Carr Medical Reviewer: Morgan Blair Last updated:

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can affect mood regulation, behaviors, and interpersonal relationships. Symptoms of BPD can impact an individual’s ability to work effectively. However, there are way to manage challenging symptoms, making many jobs can be suitable for people with BPD.

How does BPD affect your ability to work?

BPD can present differently from person to person and can cause varying symptoms. However, typical symptoms of BPD that impact the ability to work might include [1][2][3][4]:


Often, people with BPD struggle with their sense of identity or self. This can cause confusion around goals and aspirations, as they may regularly change. As such, it can be difficult for people with BPD to find a career path and remain motivated. They may periodically change jobs and become interested in different professions or projects.


Emotional lability is a common symptom of BPD, which can cause regular mood swings, including anger, sadness, and anxiety. This can cause challenges in the workplace, such as coping with criticism, managing professional relationships, and maintaining professional communication.


People with BPD might engage in impulsive or reckless behaviors, which can put themselves and others at risk. This could include alcohol and substance use, reckless driving, and sexual promiscuity. If any of these behaviors occur at work or impact professionalism, it may be a reason for being suspended or fired.


The ability to maintain concentration can fluctuate for people with BPD, causing difficulties in completing tasks. Concentration may be affected by the intense emotional swings that individuals with BPD experience. Concentration can also by impacted by symptoms of depression that co-occur and cause reduced energy and focus. Similarly, it may be due to dissociation, which can cause episodes of feeling disconnected or detached from reality and the self.


BPD can cause black-and-white thinking, also known as splitting. This means individuals with BPD experience rigid and polarized emotions, seeing something as good or bad. This can cause abrupt changes in how a person with BPD views their work or colleagues. For example, they may suddenly decide to quit following one bad experience.

What to consider when searching for a job if you have BPD

What qualifications or training are required?

When searching for a job, it is always important to consider the requirements to gain the position. This may be especially important for someone with BPD, as their symptoms may make it more challenging to complete a degree, training program, or other requirements for the role [1].

Similarly, it is important to consider what you feel passionate about and to identify your strengths and abilities. This way, you can choose a career path matching your skillset and interests [5].

What will the environment be like?

You may want to consider what the work environment will be like. For example, is it a small space filled with people, or will you have a quiet area to yourself? Will it be a very stressful and fast-paced job, or will you be able to take things at a manageable pace? Consider what you require from the environment and whether it will suit your needs [1][3].

What will the shift schedule be like?

Again, this will depend on how you manage your symptoms and needs. It may be unwise to consider a role that requires you to undertake night shifts and long hours. You may want to find out if the shift schedule can be flexible to accommodate breaks or attending appointments. Similarly, you may want to know if there will be consistency in your schedule and how long each shift will be [4][6].

What will you get out of it?

People with BPD often experience an unstable sense of self, so searching for meaning in every action is common. This is particularly true of employment for people with BPD [4][7].

If this applies to you, consider what significance you might find in a specific job role. Will it feel fulfilling and bring meaning to your life? If not, will you soon lose motivation for this role?

Whether to discuss your mental health with your employer

You may want to consider discussing your condition with your employer to ensure they are aware of any specific needs or requirements you have. However, you are not obliged to tell your employer about your condition, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [1][6].

ADA legislation also specifies that your employer cannot discriminate against you because of your condition and should try to make any necessary and appropriate adjustments to help you remain at work [6].

What are the best jobs for people with BPD?

The best job for someone with BPD depends on their symptoms, preferences, passions, and abilities. A career that could be perfect for one person may be entirely unsuitable for another.


Many people with BPD are creatively talented and could utilize these skills in their profession [1]. This might include career paths such as:

  • Marketing
  • Art
  • Writing
  • Journalism
  • Design
  • Film and TV production
  • Acting


Often, people with BPD are very emotionally empathetic. Some may work in caring professions to utilize their understanding of mental health and coping strategies to help others [1][5]. This might include a career as a:

  • Nurse
  • Teacher
  • Therapist
  • Social worker
  • Carer
  • Carer or advocate of animal welfare

What are the worst jobs for people with BPD?

Again, the worst jobs for people with BPD will depend on the individual and their needs. Positions that may not be suitable for people with BPD might include [1][3][5][8]:

Shift work

Working irregular shift patterns, including night shifts, might be unsuitable for someone with BPD. This would likely disrupt their sleep patterns and may contribute to worsening symptoms. This might include roles such as working in the emergency services or a bar or club.

Long hours

Working very long shifts, especially with few breaks, might be inappropriate for someone with BPD. These conditions would likely cause the individual to feel exhausted and overwhelmed and may trigger emotional outbursts and excessive anxiety. This includes working as a paramedic, police officer, or doctor.

Customer facing

Working in a role that requires consistent interaction with customers may not be suitable for someone with BPD. Individuals with BPD may struggle with professional communication and managing mood changes, particularly if customers complain or criticize their work. This might include working as a receptionist, in a restaurant, or as a shop cashier.

Caring professions

While caring professions are on the list of best jobs for people with BPD, they may also be inappropriate for people who cannot manage stress, professional communication, and the demands of these roles. Working in this type of profession on a part-time basis might help mitigate these issues and manage self-care.

How to manage BPD symptoms at work

Engage in treatment

It is usually helpful to engage in therapy to manage BPD symptoms, as this can help individuals learn how to cope with emotional distress, manage negative thought patterns, and improve interpersonal relationships. As such, therapy can also help to improve symptoms at work [2][7].

Recognize your triggers

If you can learn what triggers distress or unhelpful behaviors, you may be able to manage these situations and reduce their impact on your work [7].

Speak to your employer about accommodations

Speaking to your employer about finding reasonable accommodations at work may be helpful. Reasonable accommodations could include taking extra breaks, providing a quiet work environment, working from home, or planning supportive meetings. These adjustments could reduce stress and improve your ability to continue with your work effectively [4][6].

Practice positive and professional communication

Learning and practicing professional communication can help to prevent unhelpful and negative responses to challenging situations. You can research communication tips or ask a professional or your employer to help you [3][4].

Set small goals

Setting small and manageable career goals can help you maintain motivation in your role. It can also provide a sense of achievement and pride in your work, adding satisfaction and meaning [1].

Engage in hobbies

Ensure you engage in hobbies and enjoyable activities outside of work. This can help to boost your mood and allow you to relax in your free time [1].


It is vital to remember to look after your general well-being, as this can help improve symptoms of BPD at home and work. This might include [7]:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Socializing
  • Maintaining a sleep schedule
  • Mindfulness and relaxation
  1. Borderline in the ACT. (2023). Education and Employment with BPD. Retrieved from
  2. National Health Service. (Reviewed 2022). Borderline Personality Disorder. NHS. Retrieved from
  3. Juurlink, T.T., Vukadin, M., Stringer, B., Westerman, M.J., Lamers, F., Anema, J.R., Beekman, A.T.F., & van Marle, H.J.F. (2019). Barriers and Facilitators to Employment in Borderline Personality Disorder: A Qualitative Study Among Patients, Mental Health Practitioners and Insurance Physicians. PloS one, 14(7), e0220233. Retrieved from
  4. Borderline in the ACT. (2023). BPD in the Workplace. Retrieved from
  5. Yuzawa, Y., & Yaeda, J. (2020). Difficulties in the Workplace for People with Borderline Personality Disorder: A Literature Review. Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity Conference Proceedings. Honolulu, Hawai’i: Center on Disability Studies, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Retrieved from
  6. ADA National Network. (2018). Mental Health Conditions in the Workplace and the ADA.ADA. Retrieved from
  7. Rethink Mental Illness. (n.d). Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Rethink. Retrieved from
  8. Juurlink, T.T., ten Have, M., Lamers, F., van Marle, H.J.F., Anema, J.R., de Graaf, R., & Beekman, A.T.F. (2018). Borderline Personality Symptoms and Work Performance: A Population-Based Survey. BMC Psychiatry 18,202 (2018). Retrieved from
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Naomi Carr
Author Naomi Carr Writer

Naomi Carr is a writer with a background in English Literature from Oxford Brookes University.

Published: Jul 20th 2023, Last edited: Sep 22nd 2023

Morgan Blair
Medical Reviewer Morgan Blair MA, LPCC

Morgan Blair is a licensed therapist, writer and medical reviewer, holding a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Northwestern University.

Content reviewed by a medical professional. Last reviewed: Jul 20th 2023