For some, finding employment after a spinal cord injury is difficult, and for those with quadriplegia, the job hunt might be seem even more difficult due to limited mobility. But don’t lose hope! There are several amazing job and career ideas that exist for people with quadriplegia. While we can’t list them all, we’ve listed some of our favorites below for October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month (learn more). Check them out, and please share your career choice if you feel like sharing in the comments below.
Computer Programmer/Web Designer
One of the most popular jobs for quadriplegics is anything in the computer industry. For most, they will get some kind of computer programming degree whether that means helping build software or helping build websites. Any kind of career in the computer world is easy to do from home, and is possible to do with very limited movement as well.
To get a career in computers, you will need some kind of degree, whether it is an associate’s or bachelor’s. It is worth every minute you put into getting your degree however. Many people are able to be financially independent and work full-time easily despite their disability after landing a job in this industry. Read about a quadriplegic coder for Microsoft here
Real Estate Agent
A career field that is growing for people with quadriplegia is real estate. Many quadriplegics are finding careers as a real estate agent to be lucrative and the flexibility in the hours highly appealing. Many people are concerned that as a real estate agent that uses a wheelchair, they will be unable to show houses since so many are inaccessible. People are able to overcome this by either using a ramp, or having an assistant help show homes on levels they cannot reach.
For example, there is a quadriplegic the lives and works in Miami, Florida who exclusively sells condominiums, which are primarily wheelchair accessible and reachable by an elevator. This is a wonderful segment of the real estate world to focus on if you use a wheelchair. To become a real estate agent, you need your high school diploma and you must pass the Realtor’s license in your state.
It is common to get employed with a real estate agency as well, but this is not required. Many people choose to start their own smaller real estate business so they can be independent, especially with the hours and the flexibility they may need due to their disability.
This may sound like it could be anything, and that is the point. Many people after a spinal cord injury will become a business owner, whether that means they are the owner of an adaptive therapy gym or they decided to start their own care-giving/PCA agency. For example, there is a quadriplegic living in India who began and runs his own lumber company from his bed. If you have the business fortitude and the ability to manage all aspects of the business, this can be a wonderful career opportunity and a way to not only make an income, but to help increase your confidence.
One of the best parts about owning a business or beginning your own businesses is that you do not necessarily need any kind of degree. Getting an associate’s degree in business (at minimum) however however is recommended.
If you are okay with working 9-5pm, there are many communications and marketing positions perfect for quadriplegics. Jobs in these industries tend to be more cerebral-based, with the body and its abilities not necessarily being important to the position. Interest in writing, television, working in any kind of media (can also entail social media, creating videos, etc) are all careers you can find in communications. We recommend getting a communications degree (associates or higher) for a jump-start in this career field.
Otherwise, getting a degree in marketing can be a profitable and wise decision if you are a quadriplegic. There are many jobs available, with many work from home. This career is great for quadriplegics too as the physical body and it’s abilities are irrelevant to the position. If you are able to be a creative individual, any career field in communications or marketing will continue to sustain you.
Although the education needed to become a lawyer can be quite lengthy, many quadriplegics have decided to become a lawyer after their injuries. If you have any qualms with how people with disabilities are treated as well, having a career in this field can be highly satisfying as well with many focusing on discrimination law, ADA law and beyond.
To become a lawyer, you must first get your bachelor’s degree, and then next you must go to law school, which can take anywhere from 2 to 4 years. After you graduate from law school, you must pass the Bar exam, which is highly difficult but not impossible to pass. Also, having a career as a lawyer offers the flexibility that many quadriplegics need. And lastly, it is a career that can be done at home or virtually anywhere (at least for many aspects of the job).
Another degree that requires a larger amount of education but is very popular among people with spinal cord injuries is mental health positions, typically becoming a therapist or psychologist. A career in any field in the mental health world is satisfying, as many people with spinal cord injuries enjoy helping others who might be like them or are suffering through other issues that are taking them down the wrong path.
Remember, this is just a small look at some of the wide variety of careers available for people with quadriplegia. If none of the careers above have peaked your interest, don’t lose hope. There are dozens of other careers that work awesome for anyone with paralysis. All it takes is some creativity, and you will find almost any job (eg a former construction worker now owning his own company or becoming a contractor) can be made accessible.
Do you need help finding a job or have questions about how your benefits may change if you become employed? We can help! If you need a job mentor or a free benefits counselor, please fill out this form
See our video series – Disability Employment Success Stories