The best job ideas for people with an intellectual disability

Young male with intellectual disability working in a cafe

If you're ready to get to work, there are jobs out there for you and support to help you reach your employment goals.

In this guide to jobs for people with an intellectual disability, you will find information about:

  • Finding work
  • The benefits of having a job
  • Brainstorming job types that are right for you
  • How to get employment support
  • How the Disability Employment Services program can help

Can a person with an intellectual disability get a job?

If you want to work, there are jobs out there for you.

Finding a job when you have an intellectual disability might be frustrating, especially if you have applied for roles and not been successful.

It may feel like you’re being overlooked by employers and not being considered for the good things you could bring to the job.

Like you, at APM we know that everyone is different, with different interests and abilities, and different suitability for different jobs.

To help you overcome feeling it’s just too hard to find a job, the Disability Employment Services program can support you on a successful path to suitable work.

This program, delivered across Australia by APM Employment Services, can help you find a job by focusing on what you do best and matching you to suitable job roles.

It also helps you to develop valuable skills such as creating resumes, cover letters and how to do well in interviews that can make finding a job for people with an injury, illness or disability much easier.

At APM, our employment consultants support thousands of people with intellectual disabilities such as people who experienced developmental delay or genetic disorders such as Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, to find life-changing employment every year.

Having a job can bring life changing benefits

At APM, we see the huge benefits that having a job can bring to someone's life.

Here are three of the most common benefits of work for people with an intellectual disability:

1. Creates independence

Having a job to go to every day where you have responsibilities and things to get done can help build your independence.

As well as the opportunity for better financial independence by earning your own money.

This may sound obvious, but by allowing you to have more control of your money you can buy things that matter and improve the overall comfort and quality of your life, including access to better healthcare.

With better finances, you’ll also be able to improve your housing or accommodation arrangements or improve family situations.

2. Gives you new skills and abilities

Even though you may already have experience, having a job opens opportunities to develop new skills and learn to do things you haven’t done before.

It can give you focus and direction allowing you to set some career goals.

Many workplaces provide ongoing training and mentoring allowing you the chance to progress towards more senior roles.

Having a job also provides the opportunity to be creative, solve problems and learn social skills. As you gain more knowledge, you’ll gain a greater sense of purpose and value in the workplace which improves your self-esteem.

3. Increases confidence

As you build up your independence, skills and self-esteem, your attitude to other things in life will likely improve.

If you enjoy other people’s company, finding a job where you can be part of a team or help people in the community is incredibly valuable.

It can help to build your self-worth as you make a difference with the people you work with and establish new friendships or social connections.

If you’ve had any negative thoughts about your capabilities, having a job will help to replace those with positive feelings of worth.

This boost in confidence and self-worth contributes to greater dignity as a member of your community and society.

When you have a job, there are more situations where you can show your ability, be assertive, make decisions at home and work, and achieve your goals.

Pat's story

Find out how Pat overcame the challenges of an intellectual disability to find a valuable job through APM Employment Services.

Speak to your local APM team or register with APM for Disability Employment Services and learn more about how we help find jobs for people with an injury, illness or disability and the benefits you can achieve through employment.

Young female with intellectual disability chatting to co-worker

What type of jobs are right for you?

There are a wide range of jobs for people with an intellectual disability. At APM, we can help you figure out what’s right for you.

Everyone has skills, strengths and abilities that are unique to them. It’s important to look for a job that is suitable for you as an individual.

When searching for a job, here are some good questions to ask yourself:

1. What am I good at doing?

  • Are you creative and good at making things?
  • Are you skilled at making others feel good?
  • Do you have an eye for details?

By understanding this, it should help you find a job where you can use your unique skills and strengths.

There are workplaces and employers out there who want you because your skills are well-suited to their industry, or a particular role.

2. What am I interested in?

  • Do you have a passion for art?
  • Do you love animals?
  • Are you excited by working with others?
When you find a job that lines up with your interests, it gives you a sense of purpose.

At APM, we believe everyone has the right to experience the benefits of meaningful and valuable work.

3. What environment do I work best in?

  • Do you work best when you have routine?
  • Do you thrive outdoors?
  • Do you need a calm, quiet environment?

Working in a supportive environment will boost your confidence.

If you need help to make your workplace more supportive and accessible, APM can help make that happen.

We can work with you and your employer to make changes in your workplace so that you can succeed and thrive in your job.

4. What are my challenges?

  • Do you have difficulty with verbal instructions?
  • Does it take you longer to learn new things?
  • Do you find it hard to communicate what you’re thinking?

It’s important to know your challenges so that you can find a solution or ask for help.

At APM, we help people with intellectual disability find ways to overcome challenges in the workplace.

Don’t let your challenges stop you from working. Let’s work together to find solutions so you can feel confident and in-control in your job.

Young male with intellectual disability working at reception

10 Best jobs for people with an intellectual disability

Do you need some inspiration to start your job search? Here are 10 great job ideas to consider.

For individual advice about what jobs are good for you, you can speak with an Employment Consultant from APM. We can help you discover employment opportunities that are a good fit for you.

1. Process worker

Do you work well with routine? Working in a factory as a process worker could be a good job for you. Process workers do repetitive tasks such as preparing equipment, packing products and processing orders.

2. Designer / artist

Are you artistic and creative? You might like to work as a designer, photographer or illustrator. These jobs are great for people who have an eye for colour, design and composition.

3. Animal carer

If you like animals, you might be good at jobs such as dog walker, kennel assistant or animal carer.

4. Office assistant

Are you organised and good with small details? You might like working in office administration. Office assistants do a range of tasks such as printing, photocopying and filing.

5. Kitchen hand

Do you enjoy the buzz of working in a restaurant or cafe? Kitchen hands help the chef prepare food, wash dishes and clean the kitchen.

6. Waiter / waitress / server

Are you good with people? You might enjoy working as a server in a restaurant or cafe. Waiters and waitresses take orders, bring customers their food and clear away tables.

7. Gardener

If you enjoy spending time outside in nature, you might like jobs such as gardening, lawn mowing and nursery work. Gardeners and nursery workers usually do jobs that are repetitive. For example, pruning, watering, fertilising and repotting plants.

8. Farm hand

If you’re strong and fit and like working outdoors, you might enjoy working as a farm hand.

Farm hands help farmers with important tasks such as growing crops, picking and harvesting fruit, looking after livestock and using farming equipment.

9. Meet and greeter

Do you know how to put a smile on people’s faces? You could be a great meeter and greeter. Meeters and greeters give people a warm and energetic welcome. They work in all sorts of places such as airports, hotels, events and retail stores.

10. Shelf stocker

Are you physically fit and good with routine tasks? Working as a shelf stocker in a supermarket might be a good job for you. Shelf stockers unpack items from boxes and put them on the shelves in a neat and organised way.

Do you need help finding work or staying in your job? APM can help.

If you want to work but are having trouble finding a suitable job, we are here for you.

Every week we help thousands of people like you find meaningful and valuable work.

If you’re unsure how to get a job with an intellectual disability, get in touch with us today.

APM is Australia’s biggest provider of the Disability Employment Services program, and we’re ready to help you find a job and feel confident in the workplace.

Ready to get to work? Register for the Disability Employment Services program with APM today.

The Disability Employment Services program helps find jobs for people with an injury, illness or disability. It is funded by the Australian government.

When you register for the Disability Employment Services program with APM, we can help you with:

  • Brainstorming job ideas and career pathways
  • Finding potential employers and job openings
  • Writing resumes and cover letters
  • Preparing for job interviews
  • Getting training to make you more employable
  • Accessing workplace modifications to make the work environment more accessible
  • Ongoing workplace support so you can thrive in your job

Speak to your local APM team or register with APM for Disability Employment Services and learn more about how we help find jobs for people with an injury, illness or disability and the benefits you can achieve through employment.