8 Job ideas for adults with special needs

The fact that an adult has special needs does not mean that they cannot hold down a job and achieve some degree of independence. Offering job training for special needs adults is a way to improve both their confidence and financial security, although there may be specific challenges for which they may need additional or ongoing support.

Job training for special needs adults

We must always focus on how every adult with special needs is an individual, with different strengths and weaknesses. That means that a job that is suited to one may not be suited to another. When providing job training to individuals with special needs, support should be adapted to fit the student’s unique circumstances.

Potential job ideas to train for could be:

1. Something computer-based

Many adults with special needs already use technology to improve their quality of life, such as an alternative form of communication. Computer programmers or web designers often work from home, reducing the stress of social interaction and the risk of sensory overload.

2. Retail

Retail has long been a popular career choice for some adults with special needs, particularly in smaller, less overwhelming stores. Tasks such as stacking shelves or bagging groceries are relatively simple to learn and can provide a reliable source of regular employment, with other staff available to help if there are any problems.

3. Working with animals

Adults with special needs may struggle to interact with other people, but find spending time with animals soothing. Assisting at a vet’s, farm, zoo, pet store, groomer’s, shelter or other animal-based business can be a highly fulfilling role for some adults with special needs.

4. Libraries and museums

Libraries and museums often provide quieter environments that may suit some adults with special needs. For some adults with autism, it may provide additional opportunities to engage with their special interests.

5. Counselling/support jobs

Experiencing living with special needs themselves may make some adults uniquely qualified to help others with similar conditions. They can use their personal experience to provide advice on everything from relationships to job hunting.

6. Pharmacy

Many pharmacies have become more open to accepting or even encouraging job applicants with special needs. Whether working in sales or as a technician in a pharmacy itself, personal experience with the drugs available can be a valuable asset.

7. Kitchen/culinary jobs

Kitchens are structured environments with clear rules and routines that also allow opportunities for creativity. There are a variety of roles available, from clearing tables and washing plates to help with food preparation and cooking itself.


Working in a hotel or similar setting can involve varying degrees of interaction with the public. Employees in janitorial or housekeeping roles may have relatively solitary positions with simple, repetitive work that is easy to understand and has clear, achievable outcomes.

These are just some ideas for potential jobs for adults with special needs, depending on the skills and interests of the individual. Some enterprises still have stereotyped ideas about the ability of adults with special needs, but others have made a concerted effort to make their workplaces more inclusive, so inquire if modifications are possible.

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