Jobs for Autistic People: Where should people with autism work in 2024?

Written By

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Updated:

Fact Checked

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Autism jobs overview 

When searching ‘jobs for autistic people’ a critical fact to learn is that approximately 42% of young adults who have autism did not engage in paid employment throughout their early 20s.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects how individuals perceive and interact with the world. It can bring challenges in areas like social communication and sensory processing.

However, it also brings unique strengths such as attention to detail and creative thinking.

Embracing neurodiversity in the workplace and providing support and accommodations can help individuals with autism thrive and contribute their valuable perspectives and talents to the team. 

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This article provides guidance on suitable job options and accommodations for individuals with autism, focusing on their strengths and areas where they may face challenges.

When it comes to seeking employment, it is essential for individuals with autism to consider job roles that align with their strengths and accommodate their unique needs. 

Searching for “jobs for autistic people” or “best jobs for people with autism” can lead to discouraging results that may deter you from pursuing certain careers.

“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”

Alan Turing

Jobs for people with autism requiring strong attention to detail

Individuals with autism, also known as autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), often possess exceptional attention to detail and a strong focus on tasks that interest them.

Jobs that require attention to detail can be an excellent fit for individuals with autism.

People working and exercising strong attention to detail

Here are the top 5 jobs requiring strong attention to detail:

  1. Data Analyst: Collect, analyze, and interpret large datasets to extract meaningful insights. Their role involves identifying data patterns, trends, and correlations and presenting their findings to inform decision-making processes. Individuals with autism often excel in this field due to their exceptional attention to detail and analytical skills.
  2. Statistician: Work with data to design experiments, develop statistical models, and analyze results. They are crucial in various industries, including healthcare, finance, and market research. With their keen eye for detail and ability to work with complex data sets, individuals with autism can thrive in this field.
  3. Research Assistant: Support the work of researchers by collecting data, conducting experiments, and organizing research findings. Their attention to detail is essential in ensuring accurate data collection and analysis. Individuals with autism often possess a strong focus on tasks, making them well-suited for research-oriented roles.
  4. Quality Control Inspector: Inspect products, processes, and materials to meet established quality standards. They carefully examine products for defects, measure specifications, and document their findings. The meticulous attention to detail required in this role aligns well with the strengths of individuals with autism.
  5. Financial Analyst: Analyze financial data, market trends, and investment opportunities to provide insights and recommendations for businesses and individuals. They conduct in-depth research, assess risks, and evaluate financial performance. The ability to meticulously analyze data and identify patterns is crucial for success in this role, making it a suitable option for individuals with autism.

These job options capitalize on the strengths of individuals with autism, allowing them to leverage their attention to detail, analytical skills, and focus to excel in their careers. 

Pro Tip: Asking your employer for workplace accommodations to make life easier is an effective solution. Employers reported that around 58% of workplace accommodations incur no expenses at all, while the remaining 42% usually involve an approximate cost of $500.

Employment statistics on young adults with autism

“Autism is as much a part of humanity as is the capacity to dream.”

— KATHLEEN SEIDEL


Best jobs for autistic adults in technology and IT sector

The technology field offers a wide range of job opportunities for individuals with autism.

Many individuals on the autism spectrum have a natural affinity for computers and possess excellent technical skills.

Below are some of the top job roles in the technology sector that may be suitable for individuals with autism:

  1. Software Tester: Software testing involves identifying bugs, conducting quality assurance checks, and ensuring software functionality. Individuals with autism, with their meticulous attention to detail and logical thinking, can excel in this role. They play a vital role in improving software quality and user experience.
  2. Web Designer: Create visually appealing and user-friendly websites. Individuals with autism often possess strong visual and spatial skills, allowing them to excel in this field. Their ability to focus on details and create structured layouts can result in aesthetically pleasing and well-designed websites.
  3. Computer Programmer: Computer programming involves writing, testing, and debugging code to develop software applications. Individuals with autism, with their logical and methodical approach to problem-solving, can thrive in this field. Their attention to detail and ability to think systematically can lead to the development of efficient and error-free code.
  4. IT Support Specialist: IT support specialists provide technical assistance and troubleshooting for computer systems, software, and hardware issues. Individuals with autism, with their strong technical skills and attention to detail, can thrive in this role. Their methodical approach to problem-solving and ability to follow logical steps can help resolve technical issues effectively.

The recent study results offer a categorization of accommodations tailored to the fundamental aspects of autism, addressing both challenges and strengths in the context of employment.

This research identified four types of accommodations:

  • enhancing job-related communication
  • promoting positive attitudes and interpersonal communication
  • adjusting daily workplace routines
  • modifying physical and sensory environments

These findings underscore the critical role of environmental factors in supporting the successful employment of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Autism jobs with clear and predictable structures

Two people at work drawing on the whiteboard

Routine and predictability can benefit individuals with autism as it helps reduce anxiety and provides a sense of stability.

Jobs that offer clear structures and routines can be a good match for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Here are the best jobs for autistic people with clear and predictable structures that help reduce anxiety:

  1. Library Assistant: Working as a library assistant provides adults with autism with a structured and organized setting. They can engage in tasks such as cataloging books, maintaining shelves, assisting patrons, and supporting library operations.
  2. Accounting Clerk: As an accountant clerk, you can leverage your attention to detail and methodical approach. This role involves tasks such as record-keeping, processing financial transactions, and assisting with basic accounting procedures.
  3. Administrative Support Specialist: Individuals with autism can excel in administrative support roles that provide clear structures and routines. They can handle tasks such as scheduling appointments, organizing files, managing correspondence, and assisting with administrative duties in various settings.
  4. Inventory Control Coordinator: This role involves maintaining and managing inventory levels, tracking stock movements, and ensuring accurate records. Individuals with autism can thrive in this structured environment, utilizing their attention to detail and systematic approach to maintain efficient inventory systems.
  5. Data Entry Operator: Data entry roles provide an opportunity to utilize attention to detail and accuracy strengths. Operators can enter, verify, and update data into computer systems, ensuring data integrity and adhering to established protocols.

Research shows that minimizing distractions, reducing noise, and having predictable job duties are some of the most successful workplace strategies for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder.

Additionally, environmental considerations related to technology use could be important in improving performance and work experience.

Last but certainly not least, employers’ and co-workers’ support is important to a positive work environment.

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Autistic jobs with minimal social demands

Social interactions can be challenging for individuals with autism, and job roles that minimize social demands can be more comfortable for them.

Here are a couple of examples of more comfortable jobs with low social demands:

  1. Animal Caretaker/Assistant: Working with animals can be highly rewarding for individuals with autism. Roles such as animal caretakers or assistants in veterinary clinics, animal shelters, or zoos offer opportunities to care for animals, provide basic medical assistance, and ensure their well-being. These roles typically involve limited social interactions, allowing individuals with autism to focus on their strengths in handling and caring for animals.
  2. Laboratory Technician: These positions involve conducting experiments, analyzing data, and performing technical tasks in a laboratory setting. This role provides a structured, detail-oriented environment and often requires working independently or in small teams. Individuals with autism can thrive in this field, leveraging their attention to detail and analytical skills while minimizing extensive social interactions.

Worst jobs for autistic adults

When considering career options, it is essential to assess suitability and compatibility with individual strengths and challenges.

While individuals with autism possess a wide range of talents and abilities, there are certain job roles that may present significant difficulties due to specific characteristics associated with the condition.

This list aims to highlight 5 top jobs that people on the autism spectrum should approach with caution, emphasizing the need for careful consideration and support when exploring these career paths:

  1. Customer Service Representative: This role often requires strong interpersonal skills, effective communication, and the ability to handle diverse customer interactions. Individuals with autism may find the fast-paced and socially demanding nature of this role overwhelming. The need to navigate unpredictable customer inquiries, manage conflicts, and handle high-pressure situations can be challenging. 
  2. Salesperson: The world of sales requires persuasive communication, networking, and building relationships to achieve sales targets. These aspects can be particularly challenging for individuals with autism, as they often struggle with social cues, nonverbal communication, and maintaining consistent rapport. The competitive nature of sales environments, combined with the pressure to meet quotas, may lead to increased stress levels and reduced job satisfaction. 
  3. Public Relations Professional: Public relations professionals play a vital role in managing the image and reputation of individuals, organizations, or brands. This field demands exceptional communication skills, networking abilities, and a high level of adaptability. Individuals with autism may face difficulties in navigating the dynamic and unpredictable nature of public relations, which often involves responding swiftly to changing situations and effectively managing various stakeholders. 
  4. Tour Guide: While being a tour guide can be an exciting and enriching profession, it often involves constant engagement with large groups, delivering information, and maintaining an engaging and interactive atmosphere. Individuals with autism may encounter challenges in managing the varying needs and expectations of diverse audiences, as well as adapting to unexpected changes or disruptions during tours. 
  5. Event Planner: Event planning can be demanding, requiring exceptional organizational skills, multitasking abilities, and effective coordination with various vendors and clients. Individuals with autism may find the high levels of sensory stimulation, constant multitasking, and frequent interactions overwhelming and exhausting. Meeting tight deadlines and managing unexpected changes or crises during events can also be stressful. 

Similar to our other popular article on adhd jobs to avoid, people with autism need to be diligent in researching which type of job will be best suited for them.

Pro Tip: Exploring various careers through job shadowing or internships can be a fantastic way to discover your ideal job. It allows you to get firsthand experience and gain a deeper understanding of what a specific job entails, helping you determine if it’s the right fit for you.

Additionally, when considering a particular career, it’s important to consider potential accommodations that could be beneficial. For instance, having a flexible work schedule or the option to work from home might greatly support your productivity and well-being.

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Fill out a brief questionnaire and get matched with a licensed therapist online within 48 hours.

✓ Licensed Therapists, Psychiatrists, Medications

✓ You can message your therapist 24/7

✓ Insurance accepted, covered members pay an average copay of $25

✓ Plans as low as $69/week for non-insured

Discounted pricing through Therapy Helpers

“I am equal, loved, unique, purposed and worthy just because I am me.”

— KRIS MCELROY


Managing symptoms of autism at work

When it comes to managing symptoms of autism, there are a couple of strategies that can be incredibly helpful.

One effective approach is creating a structured routine that provides a sense of predictability and stability. Having a daily schedule and sticking to it can help individuals with autism spectrum disorder navigate their day more smoothly.

Another valuable strategy is using visual aids, such as visual schedules or social stories, to enhance communication and understanding.

These visual supports can provide clear instructions, expectations, and cues, making it easier to follow routines and navigate social interactions.

By incorporating these strategies, individuals with autism can better manage their symptoms and thrive daily!

If you’re facing challenges in finding the best job suited for autism or seeking support in navigating autism symptoms at work, consider contacting a career counselor at BetterHelp.

Their expertise will assist you in identifying your strengths and weaknesses and guide you toward a job that aligns with your unique abilities and needs. Remember, with the proper support and strategies, you can thrive professionally while managing autism effectively.

If you are interested to learn more about teletherapy and what to expect from your first session with a counselor who specializes in managing symptoms of autism at work, this guide covers everything from cost to types of therapy offered.

Take Away: Best autism jobs and career options

When considering suitable job options for individuals with autism, it is important to recognize their strengths, such as attention to detail, technical skills, and a preference for structured environments.

Although finding jobs for autistic adults can be a challenge, this trend is slowly improving over time. According to the most recent 2022 report coming out of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “both the labor force participation rate (23.1 percent) and the employment–population ratio (21.3 percent) for people with a disability increased. Both measures are the highest since these data were first reported in 2008. The unemployment rate for people with a disability decreased by 2.5 percentage points to 7.6 percent in 2022.” Let’s hope this trend continues to grow!

By choosing jobs that align with their strengths and accommodate their unique needs, individuals with autism can find fulfilling and successful career paths. It is crucial to foster an inclusive work environment that values neurodiversity and provides appropriate support to enable individuals with autism to thrive in their chosen professions.


References

  1. Employment Outcomes of Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum https://drexel.edu/~/media/Files/autismoutcomes/publications/LCO%20Fact%20Sheet%20Employment.ashx
  2. Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/Documents/LowCostHighImpact.pdf
  3. “It’s like a ramp for a person in a wheelchair”: Workplace accessibility for employees with autism https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33906027/
  4. Workplace accommodations for adults with autism spectrum disorder: a scoping review https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30714420/
  5. Employment–population ratio for people with a disability increases to 21.3 percent in 2022 https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2023/employment-population-ratio-for-people-with-a-disability-increases-to-21-3-percent-in-2022.htm
  6. Autism Society Employment https://autismsociety.org/resources/employment/
  7. Predictor of Employment Status among adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28211841/
  8. Why Autism Speaks Is Encouraging Companies To Hire Those On The Autistic Spectrum https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferpalumbo/2021/04/27/why-autism-speaks-is-encouraging-companies-to-hire-those-on-the-autistic-spectrum/
  9. UK pledges £8 million to plug autism employment gap https://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/content/news/uk-pledges-8-million-to-plug-autism-employment-gap/
  10. ‘Shocking’ data reveals only one in five autistic people are in employment https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/article/1742978/shocking-data-reveals-only-one-in-five-autistic-people-are-in-employment

YouTube video

Why Autistic Unemployment Is So High | Claire Barnett | TEDxVanderbiltUniversity

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About the author

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Helen Kaminski, MSc

Mindful living for a happier, healthier you. I’m a medical writer, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a mental health advocate in Warsaw, Poland, with nine years working as a therapist. I hold a Master's in Clinical Psychology degree from the University of Warsaw. I specialize in writing about mental health, using my experiences and academic background to educate and inspire others. In my free time, I volunteer at a Disability Learning Center and go for nature walks. My writing aims to break down mental health stigma and help others feel understood. Social connections are vital to mental well-being, and I am dedicated to fostering communities of support and empathy. By sharing knowledge and personal insights, I strive to create a more compassionate world. Social

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