Find Careers Available for Students with Special Needs

Finding careers available for students with special needs is a great first step to determining a career path. The trick is finding a niche for the student that uses his or her skills and strengths. Many resources are available to help counselors, educators and parents find careers for people with special needs.

Start in School

Students in the United States who have special needs have Individual Education Plans (IEP) put into place that outline specific educational goals, and methods used to reach them as well as methods of evaluation. Transition plans can begin when the student is 13 years old, and career placement is often a major area of concern. Often, careers available for students with special needs arise out of programs that merge education, training and employment.

According to the publication, Special Needs Students in Career and Technical Education, students can enter work-based education programs that teach them practical skills they would use on the job. The work-based program is suitable for all students, whether they have special needs or not.

Program areas typically include:

  • Agriculture
  • Business technology
  • Health science
  • Family and consumer science
  • Marketing
  • Technology engineering
  • Trades
  • Industrial

Finding Jobs for Students with Special Needs

Some resources can help you find jobs for student with special needs in addition to providing guidance for the student’s transition plan and educational institution.

ACTE Job Bank

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is a national organization that prepares students and young adults for careers. The association has a Job Bank that allows visitors to create free accounts, post resumes, and view jobs.

United States Department of Labor

The United States Department of Labor is an excellent resource for people with disabilities looking for employment. The Disability Resource Job Search that provides information about contacting state liaisons that can connect job seekers with opportunities.

Also available through the Department of Labor is Job Links, which lists employers that are interested in recruiting individuals with disabilities. Job Links includes employment opportunities in Canada as well as the United States.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s One Stop Information for individuals with disabilities is literally a one-stop resource for students with special needs looking for employment. Among the resources listed is Career One Stop. Career One Stop is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. The site has a State Job Bank that allows visitors to look for job opportunities in their area.

Just One Break, Inc.

Just One Break, Inc. is an excellent resource that serves as a liaison between job seekers and employers looking to integrate individuals with disabilities into the workplace. The site allows visitors to:

  • Post their resumes in the National Resume Database
  • Search for jobs
  • Find local resources
  • Find career events
  • Browse internships

Social Security’s Work Site

Social Security Online features The Work Site, a place where visitors receiving Social Security can enter the Ticket to Work Program. This program allows beneficiaries to use their tickets in a number of ways.

  • Employment services
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Other services that can help the person find employment

Information is also available about Work Incentives Planning and Assistance.


Pathfinders is located in the Washington, D.C. area, but it services people internationally. Though the organization does not specialize in helping people with special needs, it does have excellent tools for helping people of different abilities find their ideal career paths. Path Finders offers:

  • Aptitude Testing Center that helps visitors determine which careers suit them best based on their skills and talents
  • Career Resource Center that offers advice and information for job seekers

Gainful Employment

Some educational institutions are more than willing to help parents and educators find jobs for students who are going to enter the workforce. The U.S. Department of Labor is among the most valuable resources available to students with special needs who are looking for work.

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By Alexander Ball
Alexander Ball Internship Associate / Pre-Law Advisor