Explore Your Options

The best way to explore a career that you think you may want to pursue is to talk to people who do the work or find an opportunity to try the work yourself. Start by talking to many people about the type of career you are interested in. Ask them to put you in contact with anyone they know who works in the field. As you discuss your interests with more people, you will gain insight into the career. You will also make valuable contacts who may be able to help you gain experience in the field through apprenticeships, internships, volunteering, working with a mentor, and job shadowing. When it comes time to seek employment, these early contacts will all be valuable to speak with about possible positions.

Career fairs bring many employers together at once. They are great places to apply for jobs or just to learn about what industries are hiring and what types of positions are available. To find a job or career fair near you, click here.

To watch a video of a career fair held at Northern Arizona University, click here.

Career Days hosted by local schools and community colleges are also good places to talk to a variety of different employers and learn about different industries.

Apprenticeships, internships, volunteering, working with a mentor, and job shadowing are also excellent ways to learn about different jobs or industries when you are beginning a new career. They are also important opportunities to meet people who may be able to help you find employment and show them that you are a good worker with a sincere interest in the field.

Traditional Work Options

Full-Time or Part-Time Employment

CareerOneStop is a good place to begin seeing what types of jobs are available that match your interests. To find a good list of job search resources, click here. In Arizona, you can use the local employment offices. For a list of local employment offices, click here.

The Arizona Workforce Connection also has good information.

Other Arizona sites include:

The federal government’s official job site is USAJOBS. The site has an extensive list of resources for jobseekers with disabilities on its Individuals with Disabilities page. The site also includes information on federal employment for persons with disabilities.

Another national job search website with information for jobseekers with disabilities is Gettinghired.com.

Self-Employment

Self-employment is an appealing option for many people with disabilities. If you are good at planning and organizing and you have the discipline to work for yourself, self-employment may be for you. Because it allows you to be your own boss, create work hours that fit your needs, and gives you freedom from disability-related and access-related barriers, such as transportation issues, inaccessible work environments, and the need for personal assistance, many people find self-employment to be an appealing option.

Starting a business can be an intimidating challenge, but there are people out there who can help you. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN), offers individualized technical assistance, consulting, and mentoring services to persons with disabilities, family members, and service providers. JAN consultants handle each inquiry on a case-by-case basis, offering self-employment and small business development expertise and referrals regarding all aspects of the planned business enterprise. Among these are business planning, financing strategies, marketing research, disability-specific programs, income supports and benefits planning, e-commerce, independent contracting, home-based business options, and small business initiatives for disabled veterans. JAN's services are available free of charge through their toll-free numbers 1-800-526-7234 or 877-781-9403 (TTY) or 1-800-232-9675/V/TTY; and their web site’s Entrepreneurship page.

An extensive self-assessment process for persons with disabilities that are considering self-employment has been developed by the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities. To find out more, click here.

Temporary Employment

Temporary employment can be a great way to gain experience and start a career. If you are returning to work after some time out of the workforce, letting a temporary agency assist you in finding employment can help you re-enter the workforce, gain new skills, and re-orient yourself to the job market. If you have been out of the workforce for a while, temporary work is also an easy way to update your resume and add recent work history.

If you sign up with a temporary agency or staffing service, they will match you with short-term or temporary-to-permanent positions. Although you may not initially think of temporary work as appealing, it can have several benefits:

  • It will allow you to learn new skills and earn money while you continue searching for a full-time position.
  • You may be able to get more flexible hours or working conditions to fit your personal situation.
  • It will help you gain work experience, develop skills, get training, and make new contacts.
  • Perhaps most importantly, temporary work will allow you to check out an employer or an occupation before making a commitment to training, a particular career, or a particular employer.

CareerOneStop has an extensive list of temporary agencies, staffing services, and job recruiters. To visit the list, click here.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has an interesting discussion of the use of temporary employment options by people with disabilities here.

Self-Designed Work Options

Customized Employment

Customized employment considers jobseekers as whole people, taking into account their skills, interests, abilities, and the work conditions, including job support, that they need to be successful in employment. Customized employment works by matching the strengths, abilities, and interests of a jobseeker with the needs of an employer. This process allows for flexibility and makes the relationship between employee and employer more personalized, resulting in better matches for both employer and employee.

Customized employment involves careful consideration. But it offers jobseekers a chance to help discover a job that suits their skills and lets them make an essential contribution to a business. It also boosts the productivity of the business by finding job candidates that are good matches to fill positions that improve overall production in the workplace.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has a page with information, resources, and guidance on customized employment on its Customized Employment and Flexible Work Arrangements page.

The National Center on Workforce and Disability (NWDP) has an excellent informational page on customized employment.

Telecommuting or Telework

Telecommuting is an appealing option for many people and it can have special advantages for people with disabilities. Telecommuting reduces or does away with travel and commuting, often allows for a more flexible work schedule, and makes it possible for people with significant mobility issues to work.

One site that may be particularly helpful is the National Telecommuting Institute (NTI), which has a program that matches available opportunities with persons with disabilities who require home-based work.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has a fact sheet discussing working at home and telework as a reasonable accommodation.