Jobs Working with Children with Autism

Jan 18, 2020

Career Options for Jobs Working with Children with Autism

Some individuals are particularly interested in working with people with specific disabilities, such as autism, which affects development. Children with autism may be nonverbal, or may have difficulty communicating with others. Early diagnosis can be very important so that children receive the appropriate treatment and resources needed. Once diagnosed, youngsters with autism may work with a number of different professionals who help address their specific developmental needs.

Job Title Median Salary* (2018) Job Growth* (2018-2028)
Childcare Workers $23,240 2%
Special Education Teachers $59,780 3%
Speech-Language Pathologists $77,510 27%
Recreational Therapists $47,860 7%
Psychiatrists $208,000 16%
Pediatricians $170,560 2%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Jobs Working with Children with Autism

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers do not necessarily need formal training, although some states or centers may require that they complete some postsecondary courses or formal early childhood education training. They plan activities and provide personal care for infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children, which may include those with autism. For example, a childcare worker who has learned sign language may help a nonverbal child with autism by developing nonverbal communication. Childcare workers with postsecondary training in autism and special needs may specialize in providing care to young children with autism.

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers focus on providing education to individuals with specific needs. This includes working with children with autism, who may need a customized educational plan to address communication or behavioral issues related to their diagnosis. Special education teachers must have a bachelor's degree and teaching license. They work closely with other educational professionals, such as psychologists, to determine the best way to address each child's needs and help them achieve appropriate educational goals.

Speech-Language Pathologists

Speech-language pathologists are required to have a master's degree and may also need to be licensed. They work with individuals who have issues with verbal communication or swallowing disorders. They may work with children with autism to help them improve or develop verbal communication skills. Speech-language pathologists may also work with educators and parents to provide them with support or information on how to address a specific child's needs.

Recreational Therapists

Recreational therapists work with individuals with disabilities, including children with autism. They use sports, games and other activities, such as horseback riding or swimming, to promote social interaction and physical activity. The specific tasks they perform will vary based on the needs and personal goals of each individual. They must have a bachelor's degree and may need to be certified.


Psychiatrists focus on how the brain develops and are involved with diagnosing people who have mental disorders. Since autism is a developmental disorder, psychiatrists may work with children in order to properly diagnose autism and to help determine how to address their behavioral issues or developmental needs. Psychiatrists are required to have a medical degree and license; they must also complete a residency and internship in their field.


Pediatricians are required to complete a medical degree and must also fulfill residency and internship requirements to earn their medical license. They specifically focus on providing medical care for children. Since they see children from the time they are infants and monitor their development, they may be one of the first medical professionals to identify potential indications of autism and refer a child for testing.

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