5 Careers for People With Autism
Finding a fitting career is never easy. Everyone takes a wrong turn now and again, especially as new fields open up with the evolution of technology.
That said, job hunting as a neurodiverse employee – especially one with high-functioning autism – requires an intimate understanding of individual capabilities, desires, and triggers.
Fulfilling careers for people with autism are not as rare as you might think. For those looking for a place to start, consider the following career paths. These base ideas may not represent an individual’s ideal career, but they can provide starting places for job-seeking autistic adults looking to explore their potential.
Research suggests that individuals on the autism spectrum are especially good at pattern recognition, tasks requiring memorization, and mathematics, making data-related jobs an especially good fit for them. Additionally, the level of focus and precision required is often very high, but something that the right neurodiverse individual will have no trouble achieving.
Forward-thinking companies are already leveraging neurodiverse talent in this way -- EY, for example, has a team of Account Support Associates that analyze and manage data that comes in from account teams, helping translate it into meaningful and actionable insights.
Anyone looking for a career that engages the logical and creative parts of the brain will likely succeed as an automotive engineer. Automotive engineers have to brainstorm creations and innovations that will allow vehicles to maneuver more readily on a variety of roadways. Given the necessary goals they have to meet, they can invoke a degree of creative thinking to see those goals through. As an automotive engineer, a person with autism may find themselves at the ideal crossroads of their capabilities.
In a similar vein, some autistic adults may find themselves at ease in a garage. While the noise might be a problem, the concentration and problem-solving required in working on a car can provide exactly the right kind of stimulation and challenge.
Much like a career as an automotive engineer, mechanics have ample opportunity to work in an environment that they enjoy with a subject matter that intrigues them. A mechanic’s career might involve more rote processes than an automotive engineer, but if the person in question is good at what they do and enjoys spending time fixing broken things, then it serves as an ideal career.
Pursuing a career in higher education isn’t easy for anyone. It requires years of intense study, dedication to a particular field of interest even when it gets grating, and the ability to stay organized under a considerable amount of stress.
The unique challenges and circumstances of a research or academic careers provides opportunities for people who might struggle to fit in elsewhere, and there are many prominent working academics on the autism spectrum. John Elder Robison, for example, is Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at the College of William & Mary and was diagnosed late in life with Asperger’s, and has written extensively on a number of subjects, including neurodiversity.
Library science also serves as a field much in need of an autistic adult’s perspective. The field is detail-oriented and demands critical thinking skills as well as intense organization. A reference librarian actively helps other individuals peruse their fields of interest. They catalog materials, check books in and out, and maintain a library’s index to ensure that all materials are accounted for. Not only, then, does a job as a reference librarian allow someone on the autism spectrum to engage with other people in a comfortable and quiet environment, but it allows them to use their skills and perspective to maintain a space and help others.
Working in library science requires a fair amount of education. Most career-library scientists have master’s degrees in their field. That educational commitment is challenging for everyone, but its resulting career path is rewarding, should a person choose to pursue it.
Job-seeking adults with autism should pursue careers that interest them and that utilize skills they enjoy using. It’s worthwhile to pursue a career that provides a social challenge, too, provided your employer is able and willing to make accomodations where necessary. The aforementioned careers outline potential paths that an autistic adult could take, but it is not a comprehensive list. After all, there are a number of jobs that don’t yet exist that would be perfect for younger job-seekers.
The best thing a person can do is keep an open mind and an ear to the ground. As fields expand and opportunities arise, it’ll be simpler to find a field that will benefit from a neurodiverse perspective.
Opinions expressed by Daivergent contributors are their own.