34 Best and 10 Worst Jobs for Adults with Autism

Autism Jobs

Autism should not become a hindrance when it comes to finding and retaining employment as one grows older. Here are some great and worst job ideas for adults with Autism.

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Autism could affect everything from the ability to separate the senses to the onset of meltdowns parents are often faced with. Certain factors like pollution could aggravate the risk of birthing an autistic child while the bright lights and large crowds at malls could make pictures with Santa near impossible and Sensitive Santas necessary.

ALSO SEE: An Autism Breakfast That Changed Mom’s Perspective: How an Unexpected Encounter Helped One Parent To Cope With Autism Stress.

Parents of autistic children are not the only ones who require special provisions in the workplace or jobs flexible enough to manage both the child and the finances. It is hard enough for the average individual to forge a career path for him or herself, but when a disability poses an obstacle life seems to become all that much more difficult. Things that could get in the way include:

  • Sensory overload issues
  • Problems with showing emotions
  • Delayed or inadequate language development
  • Social awkwardness
  • Inability to handle large crowds/agoraphobia
  • Need for certain things to be a certain way
  • Lack of proper mental transition into adulthood

According the the latest research, only about 53% of young people with ASD had ever worked outside of the home in the first 8 years after completing their secondary education, the lowest rate found among minorities suffering from disabilities. 1 in 5 have been found to work for minimum wage or less and currently hold a job or are set on a career. That accounts for only 20.9%.

Of course, those who are older, come from households of higher income and are higher functioning in society are more likely to not only find a job, but also show advance in their positions. Often, the problem lies in the fact that most individuals on the spectrum have a harder time transitioning into adulthood. Half of all ASD young adults have worked outside the home, however, from all levels on the spectrum, which is most definitely cause for hope.

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“Many families tell us it’s like driving off a cliff when their child with autism exits high school because there just are not many options once they enter adulthood,” said Dr. Paul T. Shattuck, an associate professor in the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute and Drexel University School of Public Health. There may not be too many options, but the few that exist might just be the ticket that an autistic young adult needs to succeed in life and pave his or her own path.

With the 2013 version of the DSM-V removing the extra categories and having all forms of the disorder known as autism, society has been thrown into a bit of confusion. How will those diagnosed to be on the spectrum manage to fend for themselves? What jobs should they take on?

Jobs in IT are highly recommended for those on the spectrum. Apparently, it is the perfect niche for autistic individuals to focus on. Forbes mentions a Netherlands study which has pointed out that autistic individuals are six times more like to find and retain a job if they live alone or with a partner, have a household they run and have previously held any job for longer than 6 months. It is not impossible to find a job at all for any individual at level of functioning. Here is what Indiana University recommends:

Best Jobs for Adults with Autism

  • Computer programmer
  • Engineer
  • Drafter
  • Commercial artist
  • Photographer
  • Graphic designer
  • Web designer
  • Cartoonist
  • Librarian
  • Mechanic
  • Craftsman (jeweler, woodworker, blacksmith)
  • Technical repairman
  • Carpenter
  • Welder
  • Building maintainer
  • Accountant
  • Statistician
  • Journalist
  • Taxi driver
  • Telemarketer
  • Mathematician
  • Clerk
  • Bank teller
  • Physicist

For the nonverbal autistic, certain jobs exist as well, including:

  • Janitor
  • Store restocker
  • Library helper
  • Factory assembly worker
  • Copy shop helper
  • Warehouse helper (grunt work)
  • Landscaper
  • Data entry specialist
  • Office helper
  • Other small jobs with little need for communication

Worst Jobs for Adults with Autism

  • Cashier
  • Cook
  • Waiter/waitress
  • Casino dealer
  • Anything with oral dictation
  • Taxi dispatcher
  • Ticket agent (airline, circus, etc.)
  • Market trader
  • Auctioneer
  • Receptionist

Of course, if your autistic young adult is having a hard time finding a job to start off with, creating one that complements his or her strengths is also an option, according to these creative and innovative parents from Chapel Hill, N.C. Impossible is nothing. Every individual with autism, no matter how low in functioning, is able to work to sustain him or herself; sometimes it requires a bit more effort and a lot more creativity to figure out how.

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Comments

Actually, insurance, specifically Commercial, has been a good fit for me. It utilizes my detail oriented nature and my visual abilities. Also, most interactions, especially for an account manager, not in a sales position, are conducted over the phone on via e-mail. I am respected for my abilities and my differences are mostly tolerated. I do okay.
That's great! What is your current diagnosis? Post the DSM-V of May 2013 of course, when the different syndromes had their own categories
I don't feel that my Autism is as bad as it was in my younger years but I was wondering if it because of the workplace that I haven't been able to hold a job. I recently graduated from Computer Animation/Graphics Design but it's tough getting started, though knowing the program flow is better suited so I definitely saw where that plays out.
I studied anthropology, but I'm a cashier now. It doesn't surprise me it's the worst job for someone with Asperger's, I've been 5 years there and most of them were terrible. But my bosses and colleagues have been very supportive and now I feel better at my work. I always have to bite my tongue to not reply to those pesky customers who only want to ruin your day. They used to make me cry. Not anymore.
I am in retail and know how u feel!! Never know what has happen in someone life before they walk threw the doors!! I have 2 kids with autism and you have given me hope they will be ok.. Good for you!! I know it's not easy.. Thank you for your story!! Good luck to you!!
I constantly think about how my son will live an independent life and how he will make a career, simply from a social point-of-view. He's so smart, and there has to be something out there that will peak his interest and keep his mind and body moving. He's only 8 now but I'm thinking a trade of some sort might be something to look into down the road. The value of practicing a trade is so underestimated and even looked down on in our society, but crucial for our economy and infrastructure, and he is so detail-oriented it might be a great fit for him. Or he could be a paleontologist like he's always saying he wants to be :)
Good Evening I need some help please My Step son has autisms, He is trying to study Electronic Engenier but overall He does not like it, He is intelligent and follow commands, He does not socialies to much but he can interact with interesting conversations. We like any advise about how we can get a job for him My telephone is 954-708-6525
I have a 16 year old with HFA. A friend who's an IT recruiter recently told me Java programmers are in high demand and I've heard it's a great fit for intelligent young adults with HFA. Good luck
My autistic daughter is interested in studying medicine. Specifically Veterinarian Assistant. I was wondering whether nursing or something similar might also be a good thing for her? I would like for her to have options in case the animals scared her and she was afraid to go back to that. She is very high functioning, but is growing up a lot slower than others her age. She is very innocent and emotionally young.
Oh dear... If your daughter wants to be a vet assistant then let her. Nursing (as in people, on wards, in the Nhs: if it still exists when she is older) would be terrible. I can't imagine anything worse for an autistic person! Animals r much friendlier and don't answer back. We r sensitive to their needs... If you r concerned why not harbour her interest by getting a pet (if she doesn't already) or voluntary job at local zoo or riding stables or farm. That's your job as a parent, to support and encourage. You don't know what's best for her, she does. Sorry to be harsh and impolite but thats the truth.
I agree. I work in healthcare as a physical therapist and work with many nurses. I think ANY job in patient care that requires one on one care and interaction of other people is AWFUL for anyone on the spectrum. My 7-yr-old son has AS and I have learned a lot by learning about him and his needs. I'm convinced that I'm undiagnosed AS myself and am working to get out of healthcare as it has been miserable. Working with animals might be good, but you still may have to interact with the pet owners who could be quite demanding (and this can be very stressful, especially when their demands are unreasonable and/or based on distress/emotion).
Let me ask u this question, as a person with Autism,can your daughter handle LONG WORK HOURS? How about stress?, let me emphasize on the fact that ANY AND ALL positions in the health care field are notorious for being VERY STRESSFUL AND DEMANDING; I was certified in working in health care over a decade ago. But (emotionally) I couldn't do it,too many deaths of elderly relatives. Let me leave you both with one final word:RECERTIFICATION ( as in she is REQUIRED to have nursing license RECERTIFIED (Google length of time). Other than that I wish your daughter the best of luck.
Nursing is very human-interaction intensive. Social skills are in need at every moment, good organizational and prioritization skills as well. I trained in nursing, did quite well academically. But the practice was stressful, to put it lightly. I ended up leaving nursing, although I did care very much and the patients liked me. I guess I could be classified as high functioning autism. I can't comment on veterinary assisting. Laboratory medicine is task oriented and good for people with high attention to detail. Good luck!
I agree with the other poster that nursing would be a disaster for somebody with AS... too much interpersonal skill is needed with patients and other healthcare workers. If your daughter has a focused interest in medicine, she certainly can succeed in that field; she just needs to pick a specialty that plays to her strengths, and where her weaknesses won't be a career-hindering problem. Pathology (laboratory medicine) is highly technical and not too dependent on interpersonal skills. Likewise for Nuclear Medicine, and to lesser degrees Radiology and Radiation Oncology. (Lots of radiation on my list, but they happen to be very technical areas!) Pharmacist, Anesthesiologist, and Epidemiologist may also be good options, depending on her interest.
My autism is moderate. I can write (obviously) and paint like a photo, but interpersonal stuff is hard, unless I'm talking about something that is specialized and I can just go off on the technical/logical aspects of certain things there.
My teenage girl who has ASD and OCD is about to choose her 6th form subjects. She is so impatient, has social issues, sensory and anxiety. She says she wants to become a social worker, child psychologist etc. I think it’s the wrong profession given the level of stress she might be under. She does well in Maths but doesn’t enjoy it and so will not consider a career in Accounting. I’m getting confused on how to ensure she takes the subjects which will play to her strengths.
Hi there, im answering this post despite the date it was posted because as an as pie girl I struggled for many years trying to work out what career was right for me. I was desperate to make a significant difference. I wanted to do the same subjects as your daughter, I later realised it was a subconscious decision to understand more about others and myself. Also those career options state a clear intention of changing the world for the better and ultimately aspies don't see the point in doing something unless it will create a noticeable difference. Most of us aspie girls however love in art and science thanks to our geometrical way of thinking but forget that these subjects lead to solving the most interesting and complex of world issues. If she's good at maths maybe ask her if there's some science related issue in the world she would like to help solve. We love a challenge!
Hey Mamtic. I am an HFA adult 59 years old and have been employed my whole adult life. I was not diagnosed until I was an adult so I didn't have the advantage of knowing why I had so much trouble with certain things. I am excellent at math and can visualize machines and figure out how things work with out difficulty, in fact easily enough to be bored with it. At 17 I was a draftsman at GE and quit after a year of grinding boredom. I have been employed for the last 30 years in the human services field and at my current agency for the last 23 years. I am driven by social justice and the plight of the disenfranchised, however the trade off is anxiety and depression because I am constantly in challenging situations due to my inabilities. I have enjoyed success here because of my understanding of difficult and complex regulations and laws that minimize the lives of the poor and disabled. Unfortunately I was so good at it that I was promoted several times and now am the Director of Housing and Community Services for my agency. Although I am still contributing to the cause I feel too divorced from the positive outcomes I used to enjoy. And there's the conundrum, reduce anxiety and depression and feel safe and be bored or struggle through the bad and be more self fulfilled. As a parent we all want our children to be safe and happy. However sometimes these are not completely compatible and our children must choose their own path. I have done a lot of things that I should not have been able to do and was able to struggle my way through it. I have such compassion for the people left behind by our society and I can never forget the work I've done with people in need but there has been a price to pay. Isn't that always the case?
My nephew has asburgers, he is 33 years old and needs a job that he will stick with. He is very smart and physically fit, He loves vidio games more than anything in the world. Also loves animals . He has been denied Disibility because he looks so healthy. How can I help him get a job ? 817-526-2284
I was diagnosed with autism when I was just about to start yr 10. I have completed a masters degree in fine art with distinction. I now work as a tutor but I am finding the job stressful. I am not coping very well but I enjoy the teaching side. I struggle with understanding basic emotions and find it difficult to challenge students when they have outbursts or refuse to do work. I am thinking about being a TA in an SEN school as this is my dream job. Do you have any advice for me ? Thank you
I wouldn't suggest IT for the Autistic. I am a 34 year old autistic male from India. I did my post graduation in Computer Programming in 2005. Over the years changed several jobs in IT like programmer, web designer, graphic designer, content developer, technical writer, Instructional designer, computer faculty, technical support, and so on. What I had to face in these jobs was strict deadlines and a requirement for hair splitting attention to detail. I am not good at these two and I was having gastric issues due to anxiety and stress. I quit all jobs and I live with my mom now. I reached this article to see if I will ever be able to work again. Top options given are already tested. Deadlines and pressure from superiors are too much to handle in IT. I tried to be self employed and try managing my own internet café at home. But that didn't go well since the income was very less. So now I just sleep in my closed room, watch a lot of TV, go for jogging, porn and masturbate. Haven't experienced sex with a woman at age 34. I avoid it because I fear it will bring more responsibilities and I am not able to handle it. I don't socialize at all now and I am not worried about it. I like to be left alone.
Despite being a world apart (I live in Maryland and work in DC), it seems that we have some similar experiences, although it sounds as though many of mine have been less severe. Perhaps that is how I remained undiagnosed for over 37 years. I have found instructional design to fit my personality quite well in a number of ways, but like you, the deadlines have been a significant source of stress and struggles. On that note, it sounds as though your primary difficulty with at least a few of those occupations you've tried has been not the job itself, but rather the administrative burdens. I can sympathize every job that has required me to enter my hours on a timesheet on a daily basis, I've neglected to do so by the daily deadline almost every single day, and it is extremely rare that I submit a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly timesheet for approval on time. This is a big issue in some companies, and almost a non-issue for others, as long as it's submitted by the time it's needed for processing. Deadlines usually don't qualify as administrative burdens, but they're stressful--especially when good-faith or even extraordinary efforts aren't sufficient to meet unrealistic or unfair deadline practices, and the supervisor responses by applying more stress on the employee. This was the case at my previous job, and a vicious cycle materialized as a result of many factors, including a combination of poor communication from me, poor management by my supervisor, and poor work ethic among some close-proximity team members (whose work my supervisor often needed me do for them). I felt helpless, entirely unappreciated, increasingly unmotivated, mismanaged, and eventually even professionally and/or personally abused. That chapter of my life ended with my termination after one final missed deadline, but I managed to land on my feet making 14% more money on a government team of brilliant instructional designers, developers, and problem-solvers. Getting fired at my previous job was a blessing in disguise on paper, I suppose, even though it was incredibly damaging in some ways. It's interesting to learn that you also experience gastric distress. That symptom has been disruptive in my life, but not to the extent that many people are aware of it. Anyway, it sounds like you experience a more extreme version of this, and I hope you come across an existence that doesn't involve always feeling like you're the one who's broken in a world that probably keeps telling you that you are. I am mostly replying to you to point out the part that an administrative burden can indeed make a particular job unsuitable for many of us, but that doesn't have to make the entire profession or industry unsuitable. Many of us find ourselves channeling our energy toward narrow and often esoteric interests, and I think what's helped me exist has been recognizing this hyperfocusing ability, and trying to aim it at something productive. When I was unemployed between jobs, I tried to aim it at researching paradigms where my strengths would be welcome and my shortcomings would be less detrimental. Introspection is functionally impossible for some people, but if that is not your case, then perhaps inventorying yourself and finding paradigms could help you find the place to both literally and figuratively get your foot in the door of the world. Then again, you may not want that, but please don't dismiss it if you sometimes feel lonely. There's a difference between not needing much socialization and literally not needing any. It sounds as if you do need and crave some, but like many, you loathe the idea of developing social connections because of the hurt that comes with not meeting someone's expectations that you must fit society's ideal of "normal" human interaction. Speaking of which, I feared interaction with my best and oldest friend (going back 13 years now), because I felt I had let him down. We now haven't spoken in years, and I know deep down that we both want to be in touch again, but don't know how to do it. On a related note, I've been outright promiscuous with women, and even married (then divorced), but the best interpersonal connections I've had have been with women who, in retrospect, I recall having exhibited a number of tendencies consistent with Asperger's. Every person's version of "normal" is going to look "abnormal" to many other people, even if that person is normal by mainstream society's standards. Even if your version is "abnormal" to mainstream society, when you're with someone whose "normal" is like yours, you are normal. Because I've come to realize that implying things isn't enough for us in many cases, I'll try to clarify that I am mentioning things that helped me function (prior to understanding or even being diagnosed with ASD) because I am hopeful that maybe they might be worth trying, if you're up for it. For example, if you encounter someone with ASD symptoms that are similar to yours (maybe start by doing your thing, and looking for others who are doing that as well?), that's a big step in a productive direction, as would be at least trying (even if it fails for a while) to channel focus on your personal inventory and where your strengths and weaknesses might fit. Lastly, if you feel like you're a stranger in a strange land, see if can track down the old Twilight Zone episode called "Eye of the Beholder." Sure, you're different, but who's to say that this is a bad thing? I'm not a particularly happy or optimisic person, but one thing I do know is that I'm at my best when I remember to "own" who I am. We're all just different, customized models of the homo sapiens species.
I really enjoyed reading your response. It gives me hope, at 39 I'm just realizing I have asd, and my kids also, diagnosis hopefully to come soon. And I believe my late husband also had some traits. I'm a tad (sarcasm of course) bit overwhelmed by all of it. I'm hoping after full evaluations that we can get a plan in place to start living a better life, all of our "traits" seem on the milder side, but enough to affect your whole life, the co-morbids......I'm new and learning, but I want to embrace our talents!!
Hey dude, I have autism Alright, It gets me mad that people talk about these personal stuff like this, This is VERY wrong you posted this on a public site, Like don't talk about these kind of stuff, I am 22 years old and I would never post things about porn or anything like that. Please can you take in conserdation who read these stuff. Thanks
Hey there, im mark im 19 and i have autism, im wondering if someone can help me or direct me in the write way of getting a job, i have had 3 jobs short term ones, im more of a practical worker (seing to learn), my theory side is average andnis not very good for good paid jobs but if shown i can do it immalso physical i like to be consistantly moving, i also cant find something that interests me alout and things i would like to try seems not realistic.
There are quite a number of autistics in the helping professions (psychology, nursing, social work, doctors... etc). For instance, I received a diagnosis in my mid-twenties and I am a social worker. Social work and autism, what an oxymoron. Yes, it's challenging, but it is also good because it is making me go outside my comfort zones. I am terrible at math and things like that, so I wouldn't be good in professions that require that as a strength.
My child isn't non-verbal, but she has a low IQ (a type of autism that gets ignored on TV a lot). I see this strange representation of autism a lot: either totally academically on-target just with poor social skills ( that's me btw, not autistic though) or severe autism. Moderate autism is a no-man's-land. She will never drive or live on her own, but wants to work somewhere. Transportation is a huge obstacle. I don't know...this is all totally irrelevant I suppose. Just left a presentation of a program last night that job trains people with developmental disabilities where some of the disabled people actually drove there. Huh? No, she won't be driving...she's autistic. No really, autistic...not just socially awkward. So frustrating. Job training programs seem to be geared towards ultra high functioning people.
I know your pain. My 28 year old is struggling to keep his $8.50/hr job at a second hand shop. He refuses to learn the basics of retail management that might give him a chance to be independent. He is afraid to run the cash registers as he worries he will make a mistake or look foolish. He wont take any business classes for the same reason. Nevertheless he loves his work, receiving the donations, organizing and shelving the various products. He too is low IQ the therapists referred to it as "marginal" intelligence. He missed the critical years of word and letter recognition around 1 - 3 yrs of age and so vocabulary and concepts are a challenge for him. He gets along well with strangers, and can even be talkative superficially with girls. But when the test of time passes, he cannot maintain interesting query or impress anyone with his whit. He so wishes he could but its just not there. He is generally happy and not because of any guidance I gave him. I finally let him go his own route and find something that fit him. Another woman above stated that "you dont know what they need they do" and I so love that as a mantra for me going forward. I need to watch and listen to what he tells me he wants and would like to do. There is the path....
I am experiencing the same challenges with my son; moderate autism with an IQ lower than the average. Have you found anything so far for your daughter? Thank you for sharing
I am 26 years old, originally from California, now living in France with my girlfriend. I spent my entire life living the "eccentric" life style. Only within the last month did I realize I have ASD, and my entire life as now been finally explained to me. Even though I do not have a professional diagnosis yet, when most every symptom as a child and adult are explained by one thing, they all stop being coincidences. Toe walking as a kid (and now, getting worse), pyloric stenosis that nearly killed me at birth, chronic GERD since I can remember, memories of my passed father at 2, the list goes on. I began building guitars at 16, and always held that as my #1 objective and concern in life. Everything else came second, even relationships. I began working at a casino as a card dealer (reading this list made me smile). At first, the job was incredible. Finally, something to challenge my mind and something as fast paced as my thoughts. The constant calculations, books of rules, processes- Every action you make as a dealer has been prewritten. Unfortunately, I started turning to drugs (opiates/pain killers) to cope with people. I was the best dealer at the casino, and when I used drugs, my customer service went through the roof. After 4 years, I quit and began chasing my dream career in guitar repair and building. When I quit the job, the drug use relaxed. This shop is held as one of the best shops in the country. Everything measured to .01", extremely low tolerance levels. It was either right or wrong. I excelled very quickly. My love for music and guitar has driven most every decision i made after I left the casino. I ended up touring with big bands as a stage manager and guitar tech, making seemingly impossible repairs before showtime, even playing as a fill in musician on international stages in front of 30,000+ people. When I was in my element, when the music was blaring, I was on top of the world. Nothing could defeat that high. I connected with the music and the musicians strongly, I began to see them as my family, my brothers. Often times when the moment was too beautiful, crowd singalongs, or an emotional thank you from the band- I would tear up, cry to myself, and be so happy to be where I was. Touring was simple, live out of a suitcase, live with what you need. Something about clicked with me. It was easy. But as my popularity within the band grew, fans started knowing my name, talking to me after shows, asking me for setlists- That made me anxious to no end. Often avoiding groups of people, hiding, or worse- taking drugs on tour to try and cope with it. Whenever the lead singer (who was hot tempered) would start laying into me for something that wasnt my fault, or something completely illogical- I would shut down. Stare blank at him, or off to the side. Then be accused of not listening, not getting it, and just "needing to get my shit together." I was an excellent tech, I found peace within the setup and tear down rituals, I found bliss when the music was playing. But the other aspects of it terrified me. During a tour break, I began designing a new guitar rig for the band. I wanted to build a simple pedal, never did it before. So I began researching microcontrollers, objective C programming, switching systems. I lived with my girlfriend in France, so she was handling the househould functionality. I started absorbing the material, making abstract connections in my mind- often designing a product before bed within my thoughts, then waking up and writing up a storm. I formed an entire business outline, product outline, and knew exactly how to make it from start to finish. I lost my father when I was 3, and my mother 3 years ago. I have always had a traumatic childhood, but always coped well with it. I always saw the logical reason as to why it shouldnt upset me, and everything was a lesson on how to be a good person. I took every tragedy that happened, even the squatting and burglary of my home on tour, and spun it to learn. For the first time in my life, this last year in France, someone was caring for me. Someone took the weight off my shoulders and let me be myself, and no hard drugs. And that is when I began noticing behaviors in my pattern, in my relationship, and especially in my work. To have a general interest in something with no experience, and then be able to study on it and develop these huge advanced ideas within just a few months- I knew it wasnt normal. I knew the rate of the thoughts in my head werent normal. I'm going to begin seeking a diagnosis and therapy, because the sad reality is, although I have been extremely successful in my career- I have never been able to function as a normal adult. Paying bills on time, budgeting, prioritizing money- My interests came first. I've always dreamt out loud, big ideas, lived a life of joy. But thats the only thing I've been able to do. I have a lot of work to do. I have since stepped off the road, focused on my crafts at home, embraced my strengths, and recognize my weaknesses. My best advice for any HFA wondering about what career- Simply follow your heart, embrace the things that bring you joy. Be present. If something makes you feel good, then it may be that simple.

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