As of March 2014, a 1973 federal law designed to protect disabled people from job discrimination got additional teeth, prompting companies to be more proactive about hiring people with physical or mental challenges. This, therefore, creates more jobs for people with disabilities than were available before.
The “Final Rule” of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires all government agencies, all companies with federal contracts and any company that has a business relationship with a company that gets money from the federal government, to strive for a workforce which is at least 7% made up of people with disabilities. If an employer fails to meet the goal, he is expected to assess his hiring practices and his outreach efforts toward people with disabilities and take steps to improve them. As of September the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 12.3% compared to 5.9% for the general population.The new regulation prompted Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast, a job listing and advice website run by classified advertising software maker Adicio, to put together a list of best jobs for people with disabilities. The jobs on the list aren’t ranked. Rather they are a sampling of some of the best jobs that people with disabilities are likely to get and perform with relative ease, according to Lee. These jobs also pay well and the outlook for growth is high, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
One of the best jobs for people with disabilities, says Lee: vocational counselor. “Once people with disabilities get to a point in their work life where they feel comfortable with their disability and feel comfortable talking about their disability with their employers, they really want to help others with disabilities,” he says. There is a great demand for vocational counselors in all kinds of settings, from schools to non-profits to the public sector. According to CareerCast’s crunching of BLS numbers, the average annual salary for vocational counselors is $54,000 and the projected growth rate for the profession by 2020 is 12%.
To put together the list, CareerCast started with a list it compiles every year of “best” and “worst” jobs for people with disabilities. It starts with the BLS’s roster of the 200 most-populated jobs and then uses a number of measures including income and growth potential. It also looks at degree of competitiveness, frequency of public contact (both viewed as negatives), physical demands including crawling, stooping and bending and work conditions like toxic fumes and noise. In addition it looks at stressors like the amount of travel the job requires, deadlines and physical risks including whether the workers’ or their colleagues’ lives are put at risk on the job.
For the disabilities list, Lee’s data crunchers eliminated any jobs, like flight attendant or chef, that involve physical demands. It also filtered for jobs that had little to no stress and minimal travel. Then it looked for jobs with some of the attributes on its “best” list like income growth and employment potential. Lee says he and his team used “subjective” judgment about whether people with disabilities could thrive in the jobs. CareerCast has coordinated its efforts with groups like Recruitdisability.org, a Philadelphia non-profit that helps candidates with disabilities find employment, and Lee consulted with that group to make up the list.
Several of the jobs on the list, like computer support specialist, accountant and statistician, entail heavy use of computers, which can be set up for people who are blind and/or deaf (voice commands and Braille displays make this possible). For people who suffer from emotional disabilitieslike Asperger’s or other forms of autism, jobs with limited requirements to socialize with others can work well.
Lee also says that experiencing a disability first-hand can be an asset in fields like pharmaceutical sales, which might involve marketing drugs that the disabled person has used personally. The same goes for physician’s assistant, where a disabled person might have first-hand experience and greater for patients with similarphysical disabilities. Lee says this job can be especially appealing for veterans who may have lost a limb or have some limitation resulting from combat injuries, who may work with other disabled veterans.
Courtesy of Forbes