Education

Choosing a Career

When you were a little kid, you probably never envisioned a future where you ended up in a wheelchair. You probably also never considered a career you could still do if that ever happened. Oh to be a kid again, when $10 seemed like $1,000 and life was stress-free. But when reality strikes and you do end up living with a spinal cord injury, you will probably need to, eventually, return to work. The career that you choose should be carefully considered.

Being in a wheelchair doesn't automatically mean you have to go into the computer industry because "that's all you can do" (although if you want to, it's a very lucrative job field). There are dozens of other professions you can do. Give one a try, you never know what job is still possible.

But whatever you do - don't listen to the naysayers who tell you the field you're interested isn't possible with your injury level. You will likely be amazed at the types of jobs people with spinal cord injuries can still do. One of the most impressive folks we've encountered is Johanna Johnson, a C2 quadriplegic from Canada, who is a full-time kindergarten and first grade teacher who has no arm function.

She makes her job work by having an able-bodied assistant alongside her, doing what she says "her hands can't do". This is a great solution for many jobs. Sadly, not every employer will be on board with this option. You'll definitely want to first try to find a job you can do without an assistant when finding a career.

There are dozens of career paths that can work for people spinal cord injuries with reasonable accommodations (made possible through the Americans with Disabilities Act):

  • Customer service
  • Communications
  • Marketing and development
  • Politics
  • Engineering
  • Scientific research
  • Business ownership
  • Sales
  • Law

These are just a few of the careers options available to you. Depending on the specific of your injury, you may need some accommodations made to assist you with fulfilling your duties. Make sure you know what you'll need so you know what to ask for. Prospective employers aren't allowed to ask about your disability or needs during the interview, leaving this up to you to disclose. And beware of job discrimination. If you feel an employer is not giving you a chance due to your spinal cord injury, consider speaking as a lawyer.

Still not sure which career would be best for you? Consider making an appointment with a career counselor at your local rehabhilitational center for physical therapy, or visit a nearby independent living center. These professionals are excellent at identifying the perfect job for your personality style and ability level. Good luck!

Please watch the following video on finding a career after a spinal cord injury, and afterwards, please check out the Takeaway Points below.

Video: Employment after Spinal Cord Injury: How Do You Get There?

 

Takeaway Points

  • Many jobs are still possible after a spinal cord injury. Try before assuming it's not possible
  • Computers, communications, teaching and customer service are popular fields for people with spinal cord injuries
  • Educate yourself on the job accommodations you'll need for whichever job you're applying for before interviewing
  • Reasonable accommodations are available to you thanks to the ADA
  • Career counselors at rehab centers can help you find a rewarding career after a spinal cord injury

Career Resources