There are a lot of occupational opportunities out there for people with disabilities. Those on the spectrum, no matter what level of ASD, can perform job duties with or without assistance. Great jobs are available to individuals with autism in all sorts of fields that are tailored to their preferences and needs.
Just because someone has a disability, does not mean that they should be discouraged from career choices and left out of important career path conversations. These conversations should start early in high school and continue through graduation in order to set up each individual for success. Whether a person with autism goes to college, a trade or technical school, or goes straight into the workforce, there are so many available avenues for him or her to pursue.
Individuals with autism can make money to help support themselves by finding full and part-time work. There are even companies that are open to hiring people with special needs who require more one-on-one training and assistance, and there are ones who specifically market themselves as special needs businesses and organizations.
With that being said, it is up to parents, educators, and ABA specialists to start early with working on social and vocational skills that will help the individual with autism thrive in a work environment when the time comes. Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and transition plans should reflect skills and objectives that will help these students reach their future goals.
Here are 10 great jobs for individuals who are on various levels of the ASD spectrum.
- Data Entry Clerk
- Library Specialist
- Computer Programer
- Office Assistant/Administrative Clerk
- Automotive Technician
- Taxi/Rideshare Driver
- Factory/Warehouse Worker
A job as a statistician offers an excellent opportunity for individuals with autism. The chances of getting a position in this field are relatively high due to a few factors. Primarily, almost every field or industry deals with some form of statistics, making the demand very high. Additionally, not many people seek out this job, making the competition low. Those individuals with autism who have a knack for numbers and memorization have a high chance of excelling at this position.
Northeastern provides a quick list of daily job tasks for a general statistician:
Regardless of whether a statistician works in the public or private sector, their daily tasks are likely to include:
- Collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data
- Identifying trends and relationships in data
- Designing processes for data collection
- Communicating findings to stakeholders
- Advising organizational and business strategy
- Assisting in decision making
Even if the person interested in this occupation does not want to attend college, there are similar entry-level jobs out there that require similar skill-sets and have job duties related to a statistician.
2. Data Entry Clerk
Data entry is another position that has a high demand as it is required in almost every field. Data entry is a very stable and reliable position. This is a great job for individuals with autism because of the very structured and predictable environment it offers. There will not be many surprises or changes within this position. Another great thing about data entry is that the job is fairly straightforward and easy to learn.
Some of the qualifications and skills someone interested in this job would need are:
- Organization skills
- Quick typing skills
- Attention to detail
- Computer savvy
The great thing about this type of position is that its required skills and job duties can be generalized to basically any company or organization.
3. Library Specialist
For those individuals with autism who are more non-visual thinkers, the field of library sciences provides a great opportunity. This job will see most individuals working in a library and helping with many different tasks such as organizing books and other materials and helping people locate books within the library. This provides individuals with a very low-stress job and quiet environment in which to conduct their work. University and local libraries are great places to begin searching for positions.
The American Library Association describes two specific positions that would be fantastic options for those with autism:
- Pages are usually responsible for putting returned books and other items in their proper places on the shelves. They are also responsible for keeping items in the right order. Some handle requests for retrieving materials that are in secured areas, and others may be responsible for checking items back in. Page jobs are usually part-time, with pay of roughly $5.15 to $8 per hour.
- Library Assistants or Technicians generally perform clerical duties and are often mistaken for librarians as they are the first face people see since most libraries’ checkout desks are near the entrance. Library assistants often check materials out and in, collect fines and fees, answer general phone questions, issue library cards, process new library materials, and assist with items on reserve. Library assistant jobs may be part- or full-time and can range from $8 to $15 per hour.
4. Computer Programming
The field of computer programming is another great option for those who fall on the autism spectrum. Forbes states, “This [computer programming] is a diverse field with many different job types available.” Individuals choosing to pursue this field can find positions in software design, business communications, and more. Also, there is a high chance for employment as Forbes continues to explain, “There is almost always a shortage of good programmers in business and industrial fields.” For those individuals who enjoy working with computers, this field may provide a great job opportunity.
Glass Door provides job responsibilities for a computer programmer:
- Develop and write computer programs to perform specific tasks related to organizational goals
- Create workflow diagrams and charts to demonstrate the functionality of programs before coding them
- Run software tests to spot and resolve bugs and inconsistencies
- Write code for software patches and bug fixes
- Work with team members to find creative, innovative solutions to problems
- Collaborate with other departments to understand their needs and devise ways to accommodate them with software
- Perform regular audits to identify software inefficiencies and mastermind ways to improve workflow
- Write and continually update documentation for all programs for internal and external reference
5. Office Assistant/ Administrative Clerk
Similar to a position in the field of library sciences, a job of an office aid is another great one for those with autism. This position is available at any business looking for an office aid to help with a variety of different tasks around the work environment. The variety of tasks that would be required in this position is an excellent choice for those individuals with short attention spans. An office aid would most likely be completing necessary tasks around an office to help facilitate smoother workflow. These tasks could include organizing and filing documents, clearing space, fixing computers, and any other thing that needs to be completed. Individuals who prefer routines, specific tasks that do not change much from day to day, and who don’t want to socialize much with others would do well as an office assistant.
6. Automotive Technician
Maintaining and repairing all kinds of vehicles is a great career choice for people with autism who have an interest in mechanical systems and an aptitude for visualizing the inner workings of a car, truck, van, or SUV. Training programs emphasize hands-on practice and often include an internship that enables you to get practical experience even before you graduate. There are even some high school programs that offer a dual experience giving students the opportunity to earn technical training while still in school.
There are automotive technical training programs all over the country; there is always a high need for people in these types of jobs.
Examples of courses one might take when in a program include:
- Automotive Engines Service & Repair
- Professional Automotive Service Writing
- Automotive Powertrains & Transmissions
- Vehicle Steering & Suspension Service & Repair
- Vehicle Brake Systems
- Vehicle Electronic Systems & Technology
- Automotive Climate Control Systems & Repair
- Automotive Power/Performance Tuning & Emissions Repair
- Hybrid Vehicle System Maintenance
7. Taxi/ Rideshare Driver
Taking people from place to place is a great opportunity for individuals with autism. Being a taxi or rideshare driver gives people in this job more control over their schedule compared to other jobs, they can avoid having to be social if they don’t feel comfortable with it, and they can more often stick to their routines. Job responsibilities for a taxi or rideshare driver include being able to navigate around in a vehicle, understanding some technology, having knowledge of surrounding areas (however, GPS can help out), and being able to have basic conversations with strangers. If something goes awry, this person needs to be able to problem-solve and effectively handle conflict.
Uber, Lyft, and other companies are always looking for new drivers; this may be the perfect fit for someone on the spectrum.
8. Factory/Warehouse Worker
Working in a factory or warehouse is a perfect job opportunity for someone with autism, especially for someone who may not have the verbal, social, or vocational skills required to obtain other types of jobs. Some on the spectrum may even prefer working in a factory or warehouse due to the minimal social interaction required and the high level of structure and routine. Typically, someone in this position will have very specific tasks to do every day, that repeat each day, which is preferable to many on the spectrum.
Here are common job responsibilities of a warehouse worker:
- Ensuring cleanliness, tidiness, and safety of the work environment.
- Loading and unloading delivery vehicles.
- Accepting delivery of inventory.
- Counting and confirming inventory.
- Inspecting inventory for damage and faults.
- Communicating errors to relevant parties.
- Marking and labeling stock.
- Storing inventory in an accessible manner.
- Loading and wrapping stock on pallets.
- Building loads with a forklift and electric pallet jack.
Someone who chooses this career will be an important part of any company or educational setting. This job does not require any post-secondary or technical education and one can be independent while going about their duties.
- General cleaning of the building and keeping it maintained and in good condition.
- Vacuum, sweep, and mop floors.
- Cleaning and stock restrooms.
- Ensure doors are locked after hours.
- Clean up spills with appropriate equipment.
- Perform minor repairs.
- Notify supervisors or managers of major repairs.
- Collect and dispose of trash.
- Complete tasks in a timely manner with minimal supervision.
- Keep cleaning supplies in stock.
- Work with a contract cleaning service when necessary.
Janitorial work is an excellent choice for individuals with autism for many reasons. Those who are not as verbal as others can excel in this position.
Similar to janitorial work, those in the field of landscaping can work independently with little social interaction, and individuals with great attention to detail can flourish in this field. Not only do landscapers get to work out in nature and get fresh air every single day, but they can also use their creativity and physical skills to maintain clients’ outdoor spaces.
Glassdoor describes common job duties of a landscaper:
- Perform general maintenance duties such as cleaning walkways, fixing fountains, and applying plaster
- Conduct minor repairs and maintenance procedures on equipment utilized in groundskeeping
- Utilize pesticides to rid grounds of pests such as mosquitos, wasps, and ticks
- Efficiently apply fertilizer to property grounds to enhance growth
- Safely cut grounds using hand, power or riding mower for trimming edges around walkways, flower beds, and walls
- Monitor property grounds to ensure a pleasant appearance
- Be willing to train and enhance knowledge in assigned duties
- Ensure grounds are free of weeds and dead plants
Conclusion to Great Jobs for Individuals with Autism
The key when finding a job for an individual with autism is just like anyone else: to focus on strengths, skill sets, and interests. When paired with expertise in a particular field, their skills can be highly valuable for employers. Finding a great job for individuals with autism is very possible!
Master of Education (M.Ed.) | Northeastern State University
Behavior and Learning Disorders | Georgia State University
Updated April 2021