Ever since the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990, it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on mental or physical disability. Seeking jobs for people with disabilities? This means that no employer is allowed to make hiring decisions about qualified candidates who have disabilities—and in fact, they’re not even allowed to ask about a person’s disability status.
Changes have been made to strengthen the law, extending the types of disabilities covered. And additional legislation, like the “Final Rule” of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, amended in 2014, requires any company or agency connected to the federal government to aim for 7% of their workforce made up of employees who are differently abled.
So what does all of this mean for you as a disabled person seeking jobs for people with disabilities? How does it affect your own job search if you happen to have a disability, like nearly one-fifth of America’s adult population? For starters, it means that you should expect to help create a level field for yourself. Employers are not allowed to use your disability as a reason not to hire you, if you’re otherwise qualified for a position—so it’s on you to make sure you are presenting your strongest qualifications.
Tips for Your Job Search
Be confident. Although it may feel sometimes like your disability puts you at a disadvantage against others who may not have the same challenges, you want to go into the process full steam ahead, knowing that you bring valuable skills and experience to this new opportunity. Your disability doesn’t necessarily define you or your career, so make sure you’re emphasizing your best self. A positive attitude is one of your best assets in any job hunt, so make sure you’re giving yourself that advantage.
Focus on what you can do. If you have mobility issues, you can talk about how you use accommodations or tools to get from one place to another, and emphasize your stellar history of being on time. This is especially important if the job involves travel between places. If you have vision or hearing impairments, you can talk about processes you’ve come up with to manage (and excel at) tasks related to your job. This is a good chance to show off your problem solving skills, and showing how you’ve faced and gotten past challenges.
Get all the information you can. There are lots of great resources for job hunters who happen to have disabilities. Make sure you’re armed with this info before you even start your job search, so you know what to expect, and what is okay/not okay as you look for your next job. You want to target your job search as much as possible, so that you can find a job where you’re able to succeed, grow, and be happy. For example, if you have Asperger’s or an autism-spectrum disorder, a field where social interaction is limited might be the right choice. Ruling out jobs like being a receptionist or salesperson, where social interactions make up the bulk of the work day.
It’s about finding a job that plays to your strengths and skills, while also working with your disabilities to the extent that you’re comfortable and able to do what you need to do. Let’s look at some of the fastest-growing jobs that work well for people with disabilities.
5 Fastest-Growing Jobs to Consider
- Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
These sales reps work for pharmaceutical companies, selling products and devices to healthcare professionals who then use them for treating patients. If you have physical or medical disabilities, it can actually give you an edge if you’re not just a seller of these products, but also a beneficiary of them. It gives you an extra layer of expertise. This position typically requires a bachelor’s degree, because of the science and medical knowledge involved in the products, but no advance training beyond some on-the-job training.
Salary: Pharmaceutical representatives make a median salary of $59,080 per year, or $28.41 per hour.
Job outlook: This is a field that continues to grow, as the medical needs of the population grow, and technology offers more varied treatments. This field is expected to 7% by 2024.
Accountants and auditors work for large firms, examining and analyzing financial records. Large accounting firms like PriceWaterhouseCoopers are among the top employers of people with disabilities. To become an accountant or auditor, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in the field, as well as strong math and finance skills.
Salary: Accountants and auditors make a median salary of $67,190 per year, or $32.20 per hour.
Job Outlook: This field is expected to grow 11% by 2024.
- Vocational Counselor
You’d be helping other people find employment, especially other people with disabilities or who face challenges in getting into the workforce. Because disabled people face an unemployment rate nearly double the national average, counselors who help people build job skills and advise on related legal and social issues.
Salary: Vocational Counselor make a median salary of $56,490 per year, or $27.16 per hour.
Job Outlook: This field is expected to grow 19% by 2024.
- Management Consultant
With greater opportunities in the job market in general, companies need advice and perspective on how to reach out to the disabled community, as well as insight into creating accommodations for disabled employees. For this kind of role, you should have a bachelor’s degree and a strong business background.
Salary: Management consultants make a median salary of $81,320 per year, or $39.10 per hour.
Job Outlook: This field is expected to grow 14% by 2024, as companies look for ways to diversify.
- Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists are IT professionals who manage and support computer hardware or networks for companies. Because the work is computer-based, electronic accommodations can be made for people with disabilities like blindness (braille computer displays) or deafness (voice commands). If you’re a computer whiz, this could be a great opportunity to put those skills to work, regardless of your disability.
Salary: Computer support specialists make a median salary of $51,470 per year, or $24.75 per hour.
Job Outlook: This field is expected to grow 12% by 2024, faster than average and increasing opportunities across the board for all types of computer support specialists.
If any of these jobs for people with disabilities don’t sound like quite the right fit for you, you might also want to consider going into business for yourself—after all, what better way to put your unique skills and strengths to work? This is your career, and it’s up to you to seize your next great opportunity, regardless of disability or challenges. Good luck!