In recent years the workforce has become more diversified and as more jobs open up many professionals are now finding themselves in different roles which cater towards their own skills.
We’re going to talk about the best jobs for adults with autism and important things to look out for on your job hunt.
Many individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continue to face additional barriers.
According to a report by Drexel University, approximately 42 percent of young adults with autism never worked for pay until their early 20s. Moreover, research also shows that 20 percent of adults with autism are underemployed.
As a result, job applicants on the autism spectrum often face workplace discrimination and structural barriers when navigating through the hiring and onboarding process.
However, with companies looking to diversify their employment and hiring practices, adults with autism may have more opportunities for meaningful work. We’re going to talk about the best jobs for adults with autism and important thins to look out for on your job hunt.
A side note: many people with autism accept or prefer the term autistic people as it is identity-first language. For this article we have chosen to use people-first language and as such will use the phrase “people with autism” and other variations.
What are characteristics of people with autism?
Since autism is a medical condition, it does not define a person or their unique characteristics.
The condition also occurs on a spectrum, which means that every individual who is diagnosed with autism may have different symptoms and interests.
As a result, the characteristics mentioned may not be the characteristics that every adult with autism exhibits.
Many individuals with autism may experience more challenges interacting and communicating with others.
As a result, for some people on the spectrum, social interactions can often lead to anxiety or isolation.
These feelings are more so exacerbated when individuals with autism are expected to participate in large-group activities.
Many may also observe differences in speech communication as well.
Autistic adults are direct, blunt, and more straightforward with their approach. Therefore, they will often give direct and honest answers instead of beating around the bush.
Individuals with autism usually have some form of repetition in their routine as well.
For example, they may decide to line up different objects, repeat phrases, have obsessive interests and follow the same routine. These repetitive behaviors are a tool of self-calming, and can be a result of anxiety.
With that being said, research shows that people with autism express themselves differently compared to societal expectations. They process phrases and sentences differently, and can be more innovative with complex ideas.
So when it comes to the employment world, the job outlook is not grim at all! There are plenty of jobs that cater towards the skills and unique perspective autistic individuals share, and they can offer multiple companies new perspectives.
What barriers do people with autism experience?
Many adults with autism struggle with the interview process due to environmental, physical, and psychological stressors.
Interviews often rely on eye contact, developing a rapport with the hiring manager, and showcasing one’s personality and skills. But new social interactions, combined with being in a new environment, may lead to sensory overload.
Adapting to a new job with a different role is also draining to adults with autism.
Knowing the work environment requires time and effort, and with so many new colleagues and challenges, adults with autism may have a hard time recognizing social cues. This can be a barrier especially when trying to converse with fellow coworkers, make friends, or complete daily tasks.
With so much going on, especially in a fast-paced environment, adults with high functioning autism may find themselves breaking down.
When something unpredictable occurs, it can be difficult to process the event and react to it without emotion. As a result, routine disruptions in jobs, such as cancelled meetings or last-minute meetings, can create multiple barriers as well.
35 Best Jobs For Adults With Autism
What Should the Best Jobs For Adults With Autism Consist Of?
According to the common characteristics for individuals on the autism spectrum, the most suitable job or career path should include routine, creative or logical thinking, repetition, individual work, and group work.
However, the most important aspect of finding the best job is interest.
In order to perform to the fullest potential, an autistic employee must value and be interested in the work they do. This is especially the case with people who are diagnosed with autism, as research shows that they reportedly have intense interests in specific things.
Many job skills can be taught with online courses or training programs, but interest cannot be faked! Let’s break this down in specific jobs and categories.
And remember, this is by no means a comprehensive list of jobs but rather a starting point.
Jobs in Art and Design For Adults With Autism
Individuals on the spectrum are known for their creative and innovative thinking. Though this may not be the same for every individual person with autism.
According to research, people with autism usually look for different ways to solve a situation that are sometimes unconventional. This is known as ‘divergent thinking.’
The creative fields require professionals to think in a more abstract and less conventional manner. As a result, individuals with autism may feel the need to express themselves through artistic mediums.
Some of these types of jobs include:
Photography requires both technical and creative aspects, which are bonuses to adults who are diagnosed with autism. The camera consists of the technical component, such as observing the functions and the modes.
Whereas, the process of photography includes the artistic component, which includes assessing the composition and colors of the photo.
There are many different types of photography that you could persue. From portrait photography to landscape, there are many options.
Since individuals with ASD often have a different worldview in terms of colors and creativity, they can shape their ideas through design.
By designing for different platforms, individuals with ASD also have the ability to experiment with different software and colors. And instead of verbally, they can find a way to communicate through their visual work.
As many individuals with ASD are visually oriented, and can create diverse images and characters, an animator is also an option. Through this work, they can communicate a story and an idea through their eyes.
A copywriter is responsible for writing persuasive and engaging content to promote products or services. This job requires excellent communication skills, creativity, and an understanding of the company’s goals.
The good news is many different types of companies need copywriters so you could work anywhere from Microsoft to your local bakery to a non profit.
Bakers prepare and bake all types of breads, pastries, and other baked goods. They mix ingredients according to recipes, shape dough into loaves or other forms, and bake the products in ovens.
Bakers may also frost and decorate cakes for special occasions.
You can also start your own online bakery and sell your goods via online retailers like Etsy.
A Floral Designer is responsible for creating beautiful arrangements and bouquets with flowers. This job requires creativity, an eye for detail, and knowledge of different types of flowers.
You could also host floral events or classes as things like these are really popular right now!
An illustrator is responsible for creating images to accompany a text or story. Illustrators may work with books, magazines, websites or advertising campaigns. They must be able to interpret the words of an author and create an image that conveys the story in an interesting and creative way.
A muralist is an artist who paints or creates large-scale artwork on walls and other surfaces. They use a variety of materials, such as paint, pastels, markers, and more to create beautiful pieces of art.
Seamstresses create custom clothing and garments for clients. They must be able to take measurements, cut fabric, and sew together garments in a neat and professional manner. Seamstresses can work independently or as part of a team.
Landscapers are responsible for creating and maintaining outdoor spaces. This job includes activities such as digging, planting, trimming trees and shrubs, laying sod, and installing irrigation systems.
Jobs in Business For Adults With Autism
Even if business seems to be a cut-throat industry, there are plenty of jobs in which individuals with ASD can utilize their skills and potential. These jobs tend to be more technical based, and strategic in nature. Moreover, some of these jobs are also repetitive through similar tasks.
Many adults with autism excel in accounting due to the logical nature of the field, application of the numbers, and constant repetition of tasks.
A characteristic of people with autism is that they are extremely detailed and hyperfocused to the task. With a field like accounting which requires analyzing lots of numbers, being hyperfocused often means more precision when completing the task.
For adults with autism who enjoy math, an auditor job is an option. Since auditors deal with numbers, the job often requires an individual to be detail-oriented.
Moreover, an auditor job also requires professionals to have an analytical mindset.
Quality Assurance Analyst
What does a quality assurance analyst do? A Quality Assurance Analyst is responsible for testing software to ensure that it meets the standards and addresses customer needs. This job requires strong attention to detail, problem-solving skills, and a good understanding of the programming process.
Similar to the former jobs, a financial analyst position also requires a person to be highly skilled in mathematics.
The work is often structured, which is beneficial for individuals with ASD who are looking for more structure within their work environments.
A Bookkeeper is responsible for maintaining and tracking financial records, including invoices, payments, payroll, taxes, and other company expenses. This job requires an attention to detail and excellent organizational skills.
A Marketing Specialist is responsible for creating marketing strategies in order to increase the visibility of a company or product. This job requires an understanding of marketing techniques such as SEO, PPC, and social media.
Social Media Manager
A Social Media Manager is responsible for creating and managing social media accounts in order to increase the presence of a company or product. This job requires excellent communication skills, creativity, and an understanding of current trends in digital marketing.
An Editor is responsible for proofreading written material for errors and making sure that the content meets specific standards. This job requires an exceptional attention to detail.
An Account Manager is responsible for building relationships with clients and managing accounts. This job requires strong communication skills and an ability to negotiate and problem-solve.
Data Entry Clerk
Data entry is a job needed in almost every field. This job usually requires a lot of structure, routine, and repetitive tasks. Therefore, individuals with ASD may feel comfortable with this type of work because of the predictable nature.
Similar to the data entry position, an office assistant gig is available in any business. The work consists of organizing and filing documents, clearing up office space, and fixing computers. Office assistants usually have a routine to follow throughout their work day, which may be beneficial for individuals who prefer repetitive tasks.
Moreover, an office assistant job also requires a professional to be detail-oriented. Since individuals with ASD tend to be task-oriented, the office assistant job can be a great fit. It does require some face-to-face interaction, however those interactions are also rather routine and the social skills needed can be practiced.
Jobs in Technology For Adult With Autism
The tech field is blooming with new opportunities everywhere. Professionals are not only working in the office, but are working from home. So, the flexible nature of the tech world can be a plus for adults with ASD.
A database administrator ensures that an organization’s software and databases are operating efficiently by troubleshooting, fine-tuning, and maintaining the database management system.
This work usually involves repetitive tasks and technical skills, which is beneficial for adults with ASD who prefer routine. Moreover, technical skills usually require accuracy and precision. These traits are also the result of being detail-oriented to the task.
Computer programming is a profession that is logical and predictable in nature. As a result, the profession suits the strengths of many adults who are diagnosed with ASD.
Since programming is objective in nature, the profession suits those who can think literally without open-ended questions. Information Technology is a wide-ranging field for computer programmers and job seekers with computer science degrees and troubleshooting skills.
Computer Repair Technician
Other than the software aspect, there is also the hardware aspect of the computer. Computer repair technician jobs require problem-solving skills.
Since individuals with autism are out of the box thinkers, they can find different ways to solve the repair issue and utilize their logical-thinking skills. So, if an adult with autism is interested in computers, a repair technician is a good choice.
And this list is just the start! Other jobs to consider: Animal science, library science, pharmacy technician, technical writer, software testing, data analyst, video game designer and many, many more.
An IT Consultant specializes in helping businesses optimize their technology infrastructure and systems. They provide advice on hardware, software, and security, as well as help develop new processes to improve efficiency.
An IT Technician is responsible for installing, maintaining, and servicing computer networks and hardware.
Data Entry Specialist
A Data Entry Specialist is responsible for transcribing, inputting, and verifying data into a database. This job requires little to no prior experience and can be done from home in many cases.
Technical Support Representative
Technical Support Representatives provide support for customers who are experiencing technical difficulties with software or hardware. This job requires excellent communication skills and the ability to troubleshoot computer related problems quickly and efficiently.
Medical Billing Specialist
A Medical Billing Specialist is responsible for preparing and submitting claims to insurance companies in order to obtain payment for medical services. This job requires knowledge of the healthcare industry and experience with medical coding systems.
A Software Tester tests software applications for bugs and errors before they are released to the public. This job requires an understanding of computer programming languages, analytical skills, and attention to detail.
A Transcriptionist listens to audio recordings and types the spoken words into written documents. This job requires a good ear for detail, excellent typing skills, and the ability to work independently.
Video Game Designer
A Video Game Designer is responsible for creating video games from start to finish. This job requires strong computer skills, creativity, and an understanding of game mechanics.
A Medical Biller is responsible for preparing medical bills and submitting them to insurance companies for payment. This job requires a strong understanding of health care regulations and insurance policies.
This type of position required an attention to detail and is a good option for those with autism.
A Logistics Specialist plans, organizes and implements procedures for shipping goods, managing inventory, and tracking supply orders and deliveries. This job requires strong problem-solving skills as well as the ability to multi-task.
Final Thoughts on The Best Jobs For Adults With Autism
ASD exists on a spectrum between low-functioning and high-functioning. Everyone who is diagnosed with the condition is capable of different tasks, and should not be defined by their diagnosis.
Autistic employees are still extremely valuable potential employees. Autism does not stop a person from achieving great things. Everyone has different skills and different comfort levels and adults with autism are no different.
So throughout the hiring process, we should all remember that a condition is not a reflection of an individual’s own capability or interests.
But as companies are diversifying their hiring practices, more employment opportunities for neurodivergent individuals are becoming available.
For many adults with autism or developmental disabilities, jobs which are structured, technical, and flexible in nature tend to be more accommodating.
However, not all of these jobs are suitable for every applicant since everyone has their own unique interests and strengths.
Job training or a work program can help your find jobs for you. Check locally or even if your college has opportunities available to help you on your job search.
So, when looking for a good job that feels like a good fit for you, you should never put your condition first. Instead, focus on your own special interests and strengths and see if you can find a particular field that calls to you.