5 Careers with a Degree in Disability Studies

Students who pursue a degree in disability studies have admirable goals of helping adults and children with disabilities. Careers for people with disability studies degrees are often full-time, and they’re usually in settings like rehabilitation centers, educational institutions, senior citizen centers, government assistance offices, independent living centers and parent and caregiver information centers. Helping disabled individuals live independently and to be self-reliant is very rewarding. Knowing you can make a difference in the lives of those who live with disabilities is one of the best reasons to pursue education in disability studies.

Top Disability Studies Jobs

Rehabilitation Counselors

Areas where rehabilitation counselors have the biggest impact on the lives of the disabled are in advocacy, job training and job support, case management, directing the disabled to services provided by residential centers, and helping the disabled find helpful social and leisure services. Pay averages between $29,000 and $35,000, but that varies according to specific job responsibilities, geographic areas and college degrees earned.

Occupational Therapists

Teaching the disabled to function well in everyday activities, despite their injuries, illnesses or other factors that caused them to become disabled, is the biggest responsibility of an occupational therapist. Professional therapists help those with disabilities develop new skills and to recover skills that may have been lost when they became disabled. Occupational therapists with a Master’s Degree with a focus on disability studies can expect earnings of up to $80,000.

Social and Human Services Professionals

Human Services professionals help disabled clients find helpful community services and benefits. They also help to find emotional and financial support for families of the disabled, as well as for the disabled. The focus of this career is usually to help those with disabilities to be able to live independently. Human service workers might be tasked with directing disabled people to organizations that provide help, and they may also help employers who are interested in hiring disabled individuals to create a workplace where they can thrive. Salaries can range from the low 30,000 range to about $42,000.

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with students who are mentally and physically disabled in various degrees to help them achieve their full potential. Lessons may be specially adapted to help students to learn in ways that are best for them. Teachers focus on basic skills such as reading, writing and communication techniques, as well as specialized focuses. Each child is given special attention and individual focus and is helped to develop specific skills that will help them throughout life. Special education teachers can expect to make up to $57,000, when they hold at least a Bachelor’s degree.

Director of Disability Services for Educational Institutions

A director of disability services oversees all facets of a university’s or school’s disability services department, making sure that all programs and processes comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act from 1973. They see to it that all classrooms and facilities that are to be used by the disabled are accessible. They may also be tasked with supervising educational programs and helping develop strategies to help the disabled achieve their academic goals. Normally for director level employment, a Master’s degree is required. A Program Director can expect a salary of about $58,000 while an Executive Director can make over $72,000.

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A Positive Job Outlook

Disability studies jobs are expected to increase at a rate of about 9 percent per year until 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Students who truly desire to make a difference in the lives of disabled people can find careers in disability studies fields to be very rewarding.