Careers for Young Adults with Autism

Young people with autism often face difficult challenges in school and the workplace. This article discusses several careers that may be well-suited to people with autism based not just on their limits, but also their gifts.

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Career Options for Young Adults with Autism

Young adults with autism often have incredible skills, gifts and talents, in addition to the limitations their disorders may cause. Many people with autism, for example, have limited short-term working memories and cannot do multiple tasks at once. They may have difficulty in social situations. But, their long-term memories are often much better than so-called 'normal' people. They may be especially good visual thinkers, excellent at math, or able to remember many facts and details. This article describes several careers that people with autism might excel at, the required education and experience needed for these jobs, average salaries, and projected future job growth.

Job Title Median Salary* Projected Job Growth*
Computer Programmer $79,840 -8%
Drafter $53,480 -3%
Auto Mechanic $38,470 5%
Web Developer $66,130 27%
Electrical or Electronics Engineer $96,270 0%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Young Adults with Autism

Computer Programmer

Programmers may work in software design and networking. They could also work as systems engineers or on industrial automation. They write code and test it to make sure it works correctly. Young people with autism may want to consider going into this lucrative profession, as the tasks computer programmers do may be well-suited to the strengths of someone who is a visual thinker. The job also does not generally require a lot of social interaction. To get started as a programmer, some employers require only an associate's degree; others a bachelor's degree.


Another possible career choice for young people with autism who are visual thinkers is drafting. Drafters use computer programs to convert architects' and engineers' designs into technical drawings that builders and manufacturers can read and use. This job does not require a lot of social interaction or multi-tasking, and it is possible to enter the field after earning a technical certification or associate's degree.

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Service technicians or mechanics diagnose problems, maintain car and truck systems, and repair mechanical problems. This career is excellent for people with autism spectrum disorders, as they can often visualize how the entire car or truck works. To enter the field, people need a post-secondary, technical or vocational training course; some employers may require an associate's degree.

Web Developers

Another lucrative career people with autism may want to consider is website development. This field is expected to grow much faster than average in the next decade, as companies and individuals establish an online presence. Web developers, who need at least an associate's degree to enter the field, both design the look of websites and the technical, behind-the-scenes functionality, such as how much traffic the site can handle, its capacity for speed, and the code used to make the site work properly. They may also develop, maintain, and update content for websites, and they need good visual thinking to do so.

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

For people with autism who are good at math and retaining facts, but who are not necessarily good visual thinkers, electrical or electronics engineering might be a good career choice. Electrical and electronics engineers design, develop, and test electrical or electronic components and systems, such as those used in electric engines, navigation devices, communications equipment, and broadcasting gear. Engineers need at least a bachelor's degree, and many employers value the kind of work experience students can gain in cooperative programs as undergraduates.

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