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Best Jobs for the Disabled

By Kyle Kensing

Healthcare’s growing importance in the American economy has particular impact for job seekers with disabilities. Organizations specializing in job placement for the disabled find that healthcare employers offer unrivaled access to careers at a better rate than for any other industry in the nation.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that unemployment for Americans with disabilities is 12.9%, which is more than 5% higher than the national average and a 3.6% increase since the onset of the recession in 2008. However, healthcare job growth has risen steadily even during times of economic tumult. The sector is expected to increase by 5.6 million jobs within the next eight years, creating many available positions for candidates with disabilities.

At Goodwill Industries, International Director of Workforce Development Brad Turner-Little says health-care industry job growth plays a significant role in helping job seekers with disabilities find work. “One-in-five Americans have some kind of disability,” he says, and many of those either work in health care today or will find a job in that sector in the coming years.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, approximately 54 million Americans have a disability, which translates into 10% of the population age 18 to 64, the vast majority of the labor force.

Obviously, this also is not a segment of our population that can be painted with a broad brush, as Maggie Roffee of the U.S. Business Leadership Network points out.

“You’re talking about people with non-apparent disabilities, into those with significant disabilities,” she says.

Disabled is hardly a one-size-fits-all descriptor, though battling preconceived notions that Roffee says can be based off of just person, or one idea of disabled is a job seeker’s greatest challenge.

Advancements have been made. Roffee explains educational opportunities were limited to those with disabilities as recently as the 1970s. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, and she had has made strides.

Janet Fiore, President of The Sierra Group and Founder of Recruit, says, “Hiring people with disabilities is a good business move. People with disabilities are often highly motivated to contribute and they bring a new point of view to traditional problem solving.” She adds that new Federal regulations will also be a factor in helping companies realize the importance of hiring candidates with disabilities.

Despite the movement to provide candidates with disabilities with more and better opportunities, employers still have misconceptions.

“The perception…is that [employees with disabilities] are not as valuable,” Turner-Little says, adding that just isn't true.

Roffee echoes this sentiment. She says that educating hirers is the most effective means for solving the unemployment problem posed to those with disabilities.

“When companies see people with disabilities who are capable, involved…it changes the attitude,” she says.

She says companies are becoming increasingly proactive in diversifying their staffs with applicants. She calls this “building a pipeline for the future.”

Goodwill Industries is a leader in career solutions for the disabled. Turner-Little says that part of its mission is combating the stereotypes that hinder these job seekers in an increasingly challenging job landscape.

Through its independent local branches, the organization hosts career counseling programs that emphasize job aptitude, resume writing and interview techniques.

Accentuating specialized job skills is a primary objective of the organization’s aptitude training, and Turner-Little says various employment sectors are taking notice. Within the medical industry, pharmaceutical careers make for a welcoming niche. He says Goodwill works closely with many pharmaceutical companies in placement programs.

The tech sector is of growing importance, as well. Young workers with disabilities are no different than their counterparts, having grown up on technology. Roffee says the USBLN is seeing more tech career opportunities opened to the disabled, particularly in the market research and product development side.

The following is an overview of the best jobs for candidates with disabilities, according to data gathered for the CareerCast Jobs Rated report.

  • Pharmaceutical Sales

    Median Salary: $56,620
    Number of Jobs: 1,830,000
    Outlook for Growth: 16%

    Some of the nation’s top employers of candidates with disabilities specialize in pharmaceutical sales. This lucrative industry is a proven winner on the job market.

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  • Pharmacy Technician

    Median Salary: $28,400
    Number of Jobs: 334,400
    Outlook for Growth: 32%

    One of the nation’s fastest growing careers is one Turner-Little cited as a great outlet for disability hiring.

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  • Physician Assistant

    Median Salary: $86,410
    Number of Jobs: 83,600
    Outlook for Growth: 30%

    A rewarding field with high pay and an excellent outlook for growth, physician assistantships offer unparalleled opportunities to work in medicine – perhaps aiding others with similar disabilities.

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  • Accountant/Auditor

    Median Salary: $61,690
    Number of Jobs: 1,216,900
    Outlook for Growth: 16%

    Among the nation’s top hiring companies of applicants with disabilities are corporate accountants and tax solution firms such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

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  • Telecommunications Equipment Specialist

    Median Salary: $54,710
    Number of Jobs: 194,900
    Outlook for Growth: 15%

    Little-Turner emphasized the growing importance of having technical savvy for job seekers with disabilities, and this is one area where his organization is working to improve training for those with disabilities. AT&T and other telecom companies are strong hirers in the disability job market.

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  • Software Developer

    Median Salary: $90,530
    Number of Jobs: 913,100
    Outlook for Growth: 30%

    Yahoo! is among industry leaders taking a proactive approach to hiring talented disabled workers as software developers.

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  • Market Research Analyst

    Median Salary: $60,570
    Number of Jobs: 282,700
    Outlook for Growth: 41%

    Maggie Roffee of the U.S. Business Leadership Network says companies including Microsoft have been proactive in expanding their market research departments to the disabilities community.

    “When developing products, they want to open their market…to the whole community,” she says. “Companies want that competitive edge of reaching a larger market.”

    Analysts with specific insight into the community can give businesses a keen perspective when they pitch their products and services.

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  • Vocational Counselor

    Median Salary: $53,380
    Number of Jobs: 281,400
    Outlook for Growth: 19%

    The high amount of the unemployed with disabilities requires particular effort to help them land them jobs. An empathetic counselor provides these job seekers a different dimension of insight and best practices for getting hired.

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  • Medical Technologist

    Median Salary: $46,680
    Number of Jobs: 330,600
    Outlook for Growth: 13%

    Another medical field with proven capacity for outreach to candidates with disabilities is medical technologist, a vital role in any doctor’s office or hospital.

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  • Management Consultant

    Median Salary: $78,160
    Number of Jobs: 718,800
    Outlook for Growth: 22%

    Turner-Little said despite the difficulties job seekers with disabilities face in the job market, more are gaining managerial opportunities. As employers make greater efforts to reach out to the community, workers with disabilities can provide unique perspective on how companies can do so.

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I dunno about this...

Stressful, fast paced, monotonous job. You are on your feet most of the time. Also must have costumer relations skills. Finally, the career doesn't pay very well and there is no mobility, no way to grow. I don't see how this is a great choice for people with disabilities.

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