Digital Careers for People with Disabilities: How Tech Can Help You Get Ahead
Financial freedom can be hard to come by when you have a disability. People with disabilities are twice as likely to be unemployed and live in poverty than non-disabled adults. Not only does bias impede disabled adults’ ability to get ahead, but a lack of transportation and accessible housing near employment centers can make it physically impossible for people with disabilities to find employment.
These days, that’s all changing. Digital alternatives have made it not only possible but commonplace for individuals to carve out careers entirely online. From building resumes to building businesses, people with disabilities are leveraging technology to build digital careers and overcome the barriers standing in the way of financial freedom.
How? MJW Careers shares six ways that people with disabilities are harnessing technology to achieve their goals.
Not every job in the digital era requires a degree. It’s possible to find a work-from-home position as a virtual assistant, customer service agent, proofreader, or data entry specialist with the right soft skills. However, a degree expands your career options and makes it easier to get a foot in the door.
These are some of the best online degrees for a digital career:
IT jobs are in high demand and a bachelor’s degree in the field qualifies graduates for a variety of entry-level positions in IT management and administration. An online master’s degree gives IT professionals an opportunity to advance with specializations in cybersecurity, analytics, and management.
Computer science is another great option for tech-minded types, with ample work-from-home opportunities in software and web development, data science, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and more.
A number of marketing careers, including public relations, SEO, content strategy, and social media management are attainable with only a bachelor’s degree. Today’s marketing professionals need to be both creative thinkers and tech-savvy.
Whether you pursue a CPA or stop at an accounting bachelor’s degree, you’ll open the door to a variety of work-from-home opportunities including the option to start your own accounting, bookkeeping, or tax preparation business.
Many translators and interpreters work from home on a flexible schedule, making this career a good fit for people with disabilities. Bilingual adults can find translation jobs without a degree, but a foreign language degree is a valuable asset if you need to hone your written language skills or aren’t quite fluent.
In addition to degree programs, certifications can help disabled adults break into career fields such as:
- Medical coding and billing
- Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL)
Remote Job Boards
After earning credentials, it’s time to start the job hunt. There are a number of companies known for remote hiring and dozens of job boards dedicated to the remote workforce. When preparing a resume for a remote position, highlight remote experience and technical skills as well as soft skills like self-motivation and communication. If you really want to stand out, consider working with MJW Careers to give your resume an engaging, professional touch.
Disabled workers who require a lot of flexibility in their schedule should consider freelancing. As a freelancer, you have the ability to set your own schedule and rates, giving you direct control over your earnings. That includes the option to continue collecting Social Security benefits if you keep your earnings under the established limits. While it takes time to establish yourself as a freelancer, you’ll be able to charge higher rates for your work as you develop experience.
Instability is the biggest downside to freelancing. Many freelancers experience income fluctuations that make it hard to plan ahead. By building a full-fledged home business, disabled entrepreneurs can create a steady stream of income and improve their financial stability.
Many professionals in service-based industries transition from freelancing to business ownership after building a strong portfolio and roster of clients. Scaling up to a business may involve hiring subcontractors or outsourcing work to a virtual assistant or marketing agency.
Building a product-based business from home is more challenging, but not impossible with the advent of ecommerce, dropshipping, and third-party fulfillment. Since these business models don’t require stocking inventory, they offer a low-investment entry point into business ownership.
Blogging is one type of business you can build entirely from home. Many people with disabilities blog for fun or as a way to share their experiences and connect with others in the disability community. Over time, it’s possible to monetize a blog through ads, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, and selling digital products. Some bloggers use their website to advertise their freelance writing services.
Online Side Hustles
Not everyone with a disability is searching for a steady job. If you want to earn pocket money but can’t commit to a career, a remote side hustle is right for you.
When searching for a side hustle, avoid highly-competitive niches like social media influencing or video game streaming and instead, focus on the gigs most likely to pay off:
- Sell secondhand goods on Ebay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace.
- Sell handmade goods on Etsy.
- Get paid to take surveys.
- Complete micro-tasks on Amazon Mechanical Turk.
- Join online focus groups.
- Become an online mystery shopper.
- Earn royalties on stock photos.
- Become a remote online notary.
Keep this in mind if you’re sending out JPGs (work samples, head shot, etc.) to a potential employer: Some people prefer PDFs, as they’re more secure than JPGs. Use a free tool that can convert JPG to PDF to ensure they stay safe.
Financial freedom looks different for everyone. As a person with disabilities, you may be wondering how you can launch a career that will carry you through the next several decades or you may just want extra income to make life a little more comfortable. No matter your goals, technology can help you get there. From online learning to fully-remote businesses, there’s never been more opportunity to build a career that works for you.
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