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40 Often Overlooked Job Opportunities for Disabled Individuals

Approximately 13% to 27% of Americans are disabled. The majority of these Americans have mobility (difficulty walking) or cognition-related (difficulty concentrating) disabilities, but a smaller demographic of Americans also have independent living, hearing, vision, or self-care disabilities. 

Nearly half of the nation's disabled population is considered in the “working demographic” (ages 17-64), but only 21.3% of the disabled population were employed in 2022. Unemployment rates for the disabled population (7.6%) are much higher than the non-disabled population (3.5%).

But why is this employment gap so wide, and are there ways for disabled individuals to be gainfully employed? It’s more than possible, but disabled individuals will face challenges. 

Why is the Employment Gap for the Disabled People So Wide? 

According to surveys, employers tend not to hire disabled people because of a lack of understanding (i.e., how to accommodate workers with disabilities), concerns over potential expenses, and possible legal liability. Oftentimes, it isn’t the disabilities themselves holding a person back from reaching their full potential; it’s things that are outside of their control.

Bureaucracy, poorly designed support systems, access barriers, discrimination, and other intersecting factors are the biggest problems facing disabled people when seeking employment. And if a disabled person is unable to find a job, they’re more likely to rely on benefits.

However, most financial assistance provided to people with disabilities doesn’t pay enough to support their minimum costs. And if they get a part-time job, they risk losing their benefits. With that said a lawyer may be able to help you get the compensation you need when you need it.

How to Close the Employment Gap for People With Disabilities

Government intervention is necessary to truly close the gap. Financial support must be provided whether a disabled person works or not. This could encourage people with disabilities to excel in their roles, as they’ll be confident they’re financially secure no matter what happens.

Employers also have to work to reduce the informal stigma against candidates self-identifying their disabilities. While the Americans with Disabilities Act does make it illegal to discriminate against disabled candidates, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Due to this discrimination, less than 23% of people will disclose that they have a disability on their application. 

Myths need to be dispelled regarding hiring people with disabilities. For example, providing accommodations for disabled people isn’t expensive. 58% of accommodations cost nothing, and the rest cost only $500. There are also tax incentives that pay for the cost of accommodations. 

Very little pressure should be placed on people with disabilities to close the employment gap, as it’s not easy to seek and gain employment in a system that actively works against them. 

What Disabled People Should Look For in a Job Role

Unfortunately, there’s a low probability that attitudes will change anytime soon. The best direction to take at the moment is to find roles that support you and your disability. 

Since all disabilities vary in presentation, severity, and duration, it is difficult for anyone to provide a catch-all job list for people with disabilities. For this reason, it’s important for you to make an assessment of what you can and can’t do, similarly to how anyone else would. A non-musician who can’t play the piano shouldn’t be a piano instructor, for example.

But while that person can’t play the piano, it doesn’t mean they can’t do something else or get better at the piano with the help of another. There are still so many things you can excel in. 

However, there are some things you may want to look out for in a job role:

  • Flexible roles that can easily accommodate fluctuating disabilities
  • Work-from-home, part-time, or seasonal opportunities
  • Job roles that provide you with health insurance, 401(k), and life insurance
  • Roles that provide little to no access barriers
  • Environments where employees feel comfortable and valued

Most working Americans want the same things. They want to feel respected by their employers and peers. Everyone should be able to work in an environment where they feel safe. 

40 Overlooked Job Opportunities for People With Disabilities

There are so many job opportunities available for people with disabilities, but not all of them may be accessible to you depending on your disability. For this reason, we’ve separated each job based on a specific disability. We tried to touch on both visible and invisible disabilities.

Jobs for people with a physical disability:

  • Computer Programmer: As a computer programmer, you can work remotely, requiring minimal physical strain. This field offers many opportunities across various industries.
  • Graphic Designer: Creativity meets technology in the role of a designer. Many graphic designers work freelance or remotely, offering flexibility to accommodate your needs. 
  • Office Accountant: Being an office accountant often allows for regular hours and a comfortable office setting. Some companies also offer the option to work from home. 
  • Copywriter: Do you have a way with words? Copywriting could be your strength! It often includes flexible hours and the ability to telecommute; all you need is your computer.
  • Brand Manager: Although this job usually requires some experience, it can often be performed remotely with today’s digital communication tools.

Jobs for people with mental illnesses:

  • Dental Hygienist: This role offers a structured routine that may be beneficial for some. It's hands-on and results in bright smiles, providing a sense of accomplishment.
  • Welder: A career in welding can offer you the satisfaction of tangible results from your work. It often comes with clear guidelines and tasks, helping to focus your mind.
  • Photographer: Express yourself through the lens as a photographer. This path provides flexibility and can be therapeutic, allowing you to capture beauty at your own pace.
  • Nail Technician: The focus required for this craft can be grounding, and it provides an opportunity for social interaction in a controlled environment.
  • Physical Therapy Assistant: Engage in rewarding work that also supports your own mental wellness through active engagement and structured days.

Jobs for people with learning disabilities:

  • Waiter or Server: This role offers a dynamic environment that keeps your mind engaged. It also provides routine and the chance to develop interpersonal skills.
  • Truck Driver: Consider life on the road as a truck driver if you seek solitude and routine. Long drives can be meditative and provide a sense of independence and structure.
  • Event Planner: Harness your organizational skills and creativity as an event planner. This job provides variety and the stimulation of different challenges.
  • Flight Attendant: If you enjoy meeting new people and traveling, consider becoming a flight attendant. The structured nature of air travel may suit your lifestyle needs.
  • Receptionist: As a receptionist, you'll be the face of an organization, offering stability through regular hours and tasks. Daily responsibilities can help create comfort.

Jobs for people with intellectual disabilities:

  • Fitness Trainer: Share your passion for health as a fitness trainer. You can create workout routines and motivate others, providing a rewarding and active career choice.
  • Sales Associate: The role of a sales associate can be perfect if you enjoy interaction and helping customers. It often includes on-the-job training to guide you.
  • Office Assistant: Consider becoming an office assistant, where routine tasks keep the workday predictable. You'll be able to develop skills in a supportive environment.
  • Line Cook: If you love food and working in a team, try being a line cook. This job allows you to focus on specific tasks repetitively while contributing to delicious outcomes.
  • Pet Sitter: As a pet sitter, you can turn your love for animals into a profession. This job provides joy, companionship, and responsibility without high stress levels.

Jobs for people with ADHD:

  • Journalist: Journalists usually live exciting lives and report on a wide range of topics. This career is great for people with loads of energy but have a short attention span.
  • Hair Stylist: In a busy salon, you’ll get a new client every 45 minutes. Every single person is different and wants something different, so it’s unlikely you’ll get bored.
  • Emergency First-Responders: EMTs, firefighters, and police officers need to work well under pressure. ADHD brains tend to work best when the stakes are at their highest.
  • Nurse: Someone with ADHD would work well as a surgery nurse. They need to react quickly to life-altering events, and there’s enough structure to keep you focused.
  • Software Developer: If you take on multiple clients, you’ll be able to prevent monotony. This is also a role where you have to keep developing your skills and experience. 

Jobs for people with hearing impairments:

  • Audiologist: Become an audiologist, a specialist who helps others with hearing issues. This can be fulfilling as you'll relate to your clients and help improve their quality of life.
  • Archivist: Delve into history by working as an archivist. With minimal reliance on auditory communication, it's a career that suits those who enjoy research.
  • Beautician: Channel artistic skills into a role as a beautician. Despite having hearing impairments, you can thrive in visual and tactile facets of beauty care services.
  • Astronomer: The stars won't require you to listen. They need your eyes to tell their tales. As an astronomer, unravel the universe's mysteries in often quiet observatories.
  • Social Media Manager: Manage online communities as a social media manager. You'll communicate mainly through text and images, making this job ideal for you.

Jobs for people with visual impairments:

  • Speech-Language Pathologist: Empower others by helping them improve their communication. This job relies on auditory skills and provides meaningful interaction.
  • Telemarketer: Use your conversational talents over the phone to reach out to clients. It's work that focuses on your verbal abilities and can often be done from home.
  • Online Tutor: If you excel in a particular subject, consider being an online tutor. Sharing knowledge through voice or assistive technology can make education accessible.
  • Social Worker: Make a difference in people’s lives as a social worker. Engaging with clients mainly through conversation allows you to use professional intuition.
  • Music Teacher: Channel your passion for music into teaching it. As a music teacher with visual impairments, guide students using sound, rhythm, and texture.

Jobs for people with speech impediments:

  • Landscaping: Transform outdoor spaces as a landscaper, where your hands and creativity do the talking. This job allows you to work in tranquil environments.
  • Plumber: Start a hands-on career as a plumber. It's a role that focuses more on technical skills and problem-solving than on verbal communication.
  • Animal Caretaker: Connect with animals by becoming an animal caretaker. Your ability to nurture doesn't rely on speech, making this a comforting and suitable job choice.
  • Mathematician: Dive into the world of numbers as a mathematician. In this field, logic and analysis take precedence, so you’ll spend all day solving problems.
  • Financial Analysis: Put your analytical prowess to use in financial analysis. Here, data speaks louder than words, making it an ideal environment for you.

In Conclusion

Navigating the world as a disabled person is harder than it needs to be. It can be difficult for people with disabilities to find roles that suit them and even more difficult to locate employers that respect them. However, the tips in this guide can help alleviate hardships that often affect disabled people. Hopefully our 40 job opportunities give you a starting point for your career. 

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