Before working in the entertainment industry, he served in the Peace Corps in Colombia, working on educational television programs and audio-visual programming. In 1977, he was accepted into the Directors Guild-Producers Assistant Director Training Program and worked as a Trainee on such films as The Swarm and The Frisco Kid, as well as the 1978 television series Battlestar Galactica.
Adleman went on to become a Key Second A.D. on features including King of the Mountain, Nice Dreams, and Independence Day; on movies for television such as Scruples and White Water Rebels; and on television series like Knight Rider. He then became the First A.D. on the ground-breaking series Hill Street Blues, which won DGA Awards in 1984 and 1985. Adelman has also worked as First A.D. on the feature films Hoosiers; No Way Out; Alien Nation; and Say Anything; and on television movies and mini-series including A Year in the Life; Daddy; Terrorist on Trial; Favorite Son; and The Karen Carpenter Story. In the 1990s, he moved into unit production managing and producing for television series like the critically-acclaimed In the Heat of the Night; Chicago Hope; Space: Above and Beyond; Sabrina, the Teenage Witch; The Pretender; the Emmy-nominated Joan of Arcadia; and Criminal Minds.
From 1980 to 1990, Adelman served as a Trustee for the DGA's A.D. Training Program. He also served ten terms on the DGA AD/UPM/TC Council West, as Second Vice Chair from 2001 to 2002 and as Secretary-Treasurer from 2003 to 2004. He co-chaired the 1984 and 1987 AD/UPM/TC Negotiating Committees, and has been elected to four terms on the DGA National Board, and an additional seven terms as an Associate National Board Member. In 2005, Herb Adelman received the Frank Capra Achievement Award in recognition of his career achievement and service to the Directors Guild of America.