Careers for Helping Individuals with Disabilities

Some healthcare professionals enjoy the privilege of making a positive difference in the lives of emotionally, developmentally, mentally and physically disabled people. In academic settings, for example, special needs teachers nurture a supportive environment that enhances the educational experience of disabled learners. Entry-level disability specialists may find employment in administrative positions or at special needs schools, rehabilitation centers or mental health facilities. Read on to learn about 4 rewarding professions that involve working with disabled people.

Career 1: Recreational Therapist

Recreational therapists help people with disabilities rediscover their passion for life by leading them through various activities. These specialists develop personalized therapies for each client. By leading them in games, sports, crafts and other activities, recreational therapists help disabled individuals to successfully maintain their physical and emotional well-being and integrate into the community. These professionals might work in schools, medical facilities or community centers while helping patients to participate in activities that engage their minds, bodies and souls. Typically, a bachelor’s degree is required to work in this field, with some states requiring special licensing. On average, recreational therapists earn $45,890 per year.

Career 2: Mental Health Manager

Mental health managers oversee facilities that aid disabled clients. They work to streamline operations and improve the quality of services. These professionals make sure that their facilities comply with current laws and regulations and that all staff members are familiar with them. Managers also recruit, hire, supervise and train personnel. Additionally, they may work with information technology (IT) experts, accountants and legal counselors.

Mental health managers must be adept at using technology as well, and proficiency in communication, budgeting, financial analysis and quantitative and qualitative reasoning is also required to fulfill the responsibilities of this role. Furthermore, these professionals must have an intuitive sense of empathy and a strong desire to advocate for clients. They must also possess exceptional familiarity with mental health laws and policies. Depending on the facility, salaries vary widely, but typically mental health managers average $58,980 a year across the nation.

Career 3: Special Education Instructor                     

Special education teachers might work with students with mild to moderate learning, mental, emotional or physical disabilities. In the classroom, these specialists adjust lessons in subjects such as reading, writing, mathematics, literacy and communication in a way that allows students with severe disabilities to effectively absorb new concepts.

Research shows that a mix of digital and in-class lessons improve student learning outcomes. For students with learning disabilities, high-tech innovations help them to maximize their academic experiences. As result, today’s special needs teachers use advanced software and hardware to aid in the classroom. For example, Google Classroom helps teachers to stay organized and connected as well as monitor and evaluate students’ progress. The platform helps special needs educators to unearth information regarding the learning process and performance of students and develop personalized learning plans for each pupil.

Most special education teachers lead public school classes that range in grade from preschool to high school. To fulfill this role, they typically need a bachelor’s degree and require licensing or certification in some states. The average annual wage for special education teachers is $58,980.

Career 4: Instructional Coordinator

Instructional coordinators develop school curriculums and teaching policies. They might recommend or create instructional materials, coordinate the use of the materials with teachers and principals and evaluate the effectiveness of those resources. They also plan, organize and lead teacher training conferences and workshops. In addition, instructional coordinators analyze students’ test results and use that information to adjust curriculum criteria. They also make sure that curriculums are effective and comply with school board as well as state and federal regulations.

Furthermore, these professionals recommend new technologies and keep educators as well as other staff members updated on new resources. Instructional coordinators also mentor teachers and help them to improve their skills. When doing so, they might observe instructors in action, interview staff members and review test results to better determine the status of current student learning outcomes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts 11-percent growth for this career track in the decade preceding 2026 and reports that instructional coordinators earn an average of $63,750 each year.

Every disabled individual has a unique set of circumstances. Some can live independently, while others require intensive aid. Furthermore, individuals who are severely disabled may live in an assisted living residence and need 24-hour support and services. Additionally, work in this field may require long or irregular hours. Admittedly, some days in this field can be difficult. However, they’re always rewarding because the privilege of watching a disabled client learn something new or achieve independence far outweighs any challenges that might arise.