Jobs for People With Disabilities: An Employment and Career Planning Resource

Chelsy Meyer  | 

Disabilities come in many different shapes and sizes, and so do the many different career opportunities available. For those who are disabled, finding the perfect career means finding the one that has a shape and size that accommodates their needs.

In truth, everyone has certain requirements for a job that will fit with them and their needs and talents. For someone who is disabled, however, it may be more difficult to find a job that can provide the right kind of setting. Thankfully, there are resources to help those with disabilities find a job that works for them. In reality, just being able to work remotely can turn many jobs into perfect career opportunities for someone with a disability.

Finding Jobs for Disabled or Special Needs Adults

If you are an adult who is disabled or has special needs, finding a job might not be easy. For that reason, there are several job search resources that are created to aid people with disabilities in finding a job that will work for them.

  • Ability Jobs: This is the largest job site for people with disabilities where both job seekers and employers can post to find the right jobs or employees for them.
  • Ability Links: Ability Links is a site for persons with disabilities and inclusive employers
  • CareerOneStop: Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, this resource offers job search guides, resource centers, resume writing tools, and job boards for people with disabilities looking for work.
  • Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities: COSD is an organization specific to students with disabilities. They provide job search opportunities for those searching for work and posting opportunities for employers seeking employees.
  • Enable America: Enable America is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing employment for those with disabilities including wounded warriors and disabled veterans. They provide job boards and workshops.
  • USAJobs: This is a resource for hiring people with a disability into federal jobs. There are job boards, accommodation information, and information on the Selective Placement Program Coordinators who help the process for recruiting, hiring, and accommodating people with disabilities.
  • U.S. Office of Personnel Management: This resource focuses on federal jobs for disabled Americans. There are resources for job seeking, accommodation, and hiring.
  • Your local Independent Living Center: An Independent Living Center (ILC) is an amazing local resource to help people with disabilities with many areas of working and living. For local information on jobs for those who are disabled or who have special needs, your local ILC is a great resource.

Best Types of Jobs for People With Disabilities

In nearly every career sector, there are a variety of different job opportunities that can fit within the parameters for someone with a disability. Whether a job is naturally suited for someone with a physical or mental disability, or reasonable adaptations can be made, there are plenty of careers out there that are suited for each person’s abilities and passions.

Physical Disabilities

Instead of considering which jobs work for someone with a disability, and finding ways to fit within them, it’s important to think about career paths that you’re passionate about, and then considering ways to make that career path fit for you.

For instance, having a passion for the medical field might mean that someone with certain types of physical disabilities might not be able to work as a nurse or a surgeon, given the physical nature of those professions. However, they might be able to work in medical administration, pharmacy services, or as a veterinary assistant.

In reality, the list of jobs available for someone with a physical disability is rather extensive and varies based on the type of physical disability. Working in the trades may be difficult, due to their physical nature, but many other jobs are naturally fitting for someone with a physical disability (or easily adapted). Professional areas like law, teaching, programming, finance, the arts, or counseling are all career paths that can work well depending on the type of physical disability. Knowing your limitations is important, but so is knowing your strengths.

Mental Disabilities

These same principles apply for those who have a mental disability. It’s not about putting yourself where you fit, it’s about finding something you’re passionate about and finding a way for that passion to fit with your needs.

A few great career paths for someone with an intellectual disability can be found in the culinary arts, service industries, the arts, or working with animals. Mental disabilities, like physical disabilities, come in many different forms. It’s important to note your limitations and find a career path that you’re passionate about that can adapt to you.

Things like high-stress, fast-paced environments can be too overwhelming for someone with certain types of cognitive disabilities or psychiatric disorders. The same goes for careers that require customer facing interactions. However, there are plenty of jobs that are low-stress and routine intensive that don’t require client facing duties, if that’s what your disability requires. It’s important to find a job you love and not feel limited by your disability. You can do this by acknowledging your weaknesses but focusing on your strengths while job searching.

Working From Home With a Disability

Telecommuting is becoming a popular option for many career sectors. There are many undeniable perks for employees as well as employers. Things like lower running costs and higher environmental flexibility have made this option popular.

For those who are living with a disability, the ability to work from home has opened up a lot of opportunities. Being able to control your own environment can be extremely helpful for many people with a variety of different disabilities. In fact, one example of understanding disability discrimination and knowing your rights as an employee can be tied to the ability to work from home. Working from home can be considered a reasonable accommodation for many types of careers and disabilities.

From an employer standpoint, this can be highly beneficial to them as well. Instead of creating an environment at an office or work establishment that will cater to an employee’s disability, employers can opt to have those employees work from home — an environment that already has many of the necessities to create an acceptable environment for their disability. This can also lead to employers having a bigger pool of job applicants, as well as happier and more productive employees of all abilities.

Each person has strengths and weaknesses. However, searching for employment is more about finding a home for your talents than it is finding an employer to manage your weaknesses. Thankfully, there are many employment resources that are specifically designed to help those with a disability find suitable employment. Not only that, but there are also plenty of career opportunities for many different types of abilities and disabilities. With the growing popularity in telework, those options get bigger every day. If you’re living with a disability, finding the right career opportunity may be more difficult, but finding your passion will help point you in the right direction to find the career opportunity that is right for you.


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Chelsy is a writer from Montana who now lives in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She enjoys talk radio, cold coffee, and playing Frisbee with her dog, Titan. Follow Chelsy on Twitter @Chelsy5

This post was updated May 17, 2018. It was originally published May 18, 2018.