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Jobs for People with Physical Disabilities

Physical disabilities can include limitations affecting a person's eye sight or hearing, or their ability to perform certain physical functions, such as walking or standing for long periods of time. This article discusses careers that are more likely to be suitable for people with physical disabilities.

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Career Options for People with Physical Disabilities

Individuals with a physical disability may need to consider how their disability affects them to determine the best career options. However, there are some careers that are more ideally suited to people with physical disabilities because they offer opportunities to work in consistent environments that can be adapted to the needs of the employee.

Job Title Median Salary* (2016) Job Growth* (2014-2024)
Historians $55,110 2%
Small Engine Mechanics $35,280 4%
Speech-Language Pathologists $74,680 21%
Receptionists $27,920 10%
Physicists and Astronomers $114,870 7%
Writers and Authors $61,240 2%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Information for People with Physical Disabilities

Historians

Historians usually need to have a master's degree, although a doctoral degree may be needed for some positions. Historians focus on researching historical events, people and ideas. They spend a lot of time reading and writing. This can be a good career option for people with physical disabilities because the research historians do can be performed in controlled environments that can be adapted to their needs. For example, a person who is in a wheelchair may have no difficulty doing research at a table that's modified for his or her wheelchair height.

Small Engine Mechanics

Small engine mechanics service the mechanical and power systems found in motorcycles, motorboats and other types of equipment. It's common for them to specialize in a specific type of equipment, and people with physical disabilities may want to consider working with outdoor power equipment, like lawnmowers. People with disabilities can modify their shop setup as needed so that they can perform their tasks. Small engine mechanics should have a high school diploma or postsecondary training. Some employers prefer applicants who've attended a vocational school program or earned certification.

Speech-Language Pathologists

Speech-language pathologists are usually required to have a master's degree as well as a license. They help people who have issues with speech or swallowing by diagnosing their condition and developing a course of treatment. People with physical disabilities may find this is a good career fit because they have the empathy to understand how frustrating it is for a person to not be able to perform specific tasks due to their condition. They also typically work in schools or offices that can be set up to accommodate their physical disability.

Receptionists

Receptionists typically spend most of their time at a desk, where they answer phones and greet people who visit their place of work. Individuals with physical disabilities may appreciate the lack of physical activity needed to perform this type of work. Receptionists do not need any formal training; they are usually expected to have a high school diploma, but computer skills and some postsecondary training may appeal to potential employers.

Physicists and Astronomers

There are some careers for physicists and astronomers that only require a bachelor's degree, but in most cases a doctoral degree is necessary. Physicists and astronomers spend their day doing research. They test theories about things like atoms, condensed matter and black holes. There are a lot of opportunities for specialization in this field, ranging from medical and plasma physics to cosmology and solar astronomy. This is a career with limited physical demands on professionals, which means it's ideal for people with physical disabilities.

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors are communication experts who work with written material. They may write novels to entertain people, or they may write textbooks that are intended to inform people. People with physical disabilities will find that as a writer or author, they can often work from home in an environment that is perfectly suited to their needs. They may also have a flexible schedule, which can allow them to incorporate regular breaks into their day if they need them or to attend medical appointments. A bachelor's degree may be required for writers and authors who are seeking regular employment.

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