Trades for People with Learning Disabilities

group of professionals in various careers

Trade schools are increasingly gaining recognition as valuable pathways for people with learning disabilities. Rather than being alternative choices, these institutions actively provide tailored programs and resources designed specifically for people with learning disabilities.

With millions of students with learning disabilities seeking postsecondary education, trade schools provide a supportive environment for growth and success. This article explores the importance of trade schools for people with learning disabilities and sheds light on which vocational schools are ideal.

Let’s dive in.

Why Vocational or Trade School?

Trade schools are becoming the go-to option for people with learning disabilities, thanks to the customized learning experiences they provide. The hands-on training and practical focus these schools offer can make learning more relatable, especially for people who aren’t neurotypical.

In addition to hands-on experiences, guidance from field experts ensures students receive valuable real-world insights. Importantly, every trade school is dedicated to being inclusive. They’re required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide necessary support so all students can benefit from the curriculum.

Trade schools have successfully created a supportive environment catering to the unique learning styles of people with disabilities. This flexible, skill-focused approach enables students to have a positive educational journey and realize their full potential in their chosen fields.

Educational Choices Supporting Students with Learning Disabilities

When looking for the right educational path for students with learning disabilities, it’s essential to know that both traditional trade schools and online learning platforms are excellent options. Traditional trade schools often provide in-depth support and practical, hands-on training, helping students gain valuable skills in their chosen fields more effectively.

Meanwhile, online courses offer a distinct advantage in terms of flexibility. Students can learn at their preferred pace, in a comfortable and familiar environment. This adaptable approach can be particularly beneficial for those who may require extra time to comprehend specific concepts.

Ultimately, the choice between traditional trade schools and online programs depends on individual preferences and learning needs.

Specific Vocations for Students with Learning Disabilities

Having a learning disability means you see and process things differently. This unique perspective can be a major asset in certain jobs. By focusing on roles that value your distinct abilities and strengths, you can build a successful career that’s tailored to your individual needs.

Here are some careers where your special way of understanding the world can really pay off:

Physical Disabilities

Physical disabilities encompass a range of issues, from limited mobility due to injury to conditions that may be hereditary, such as cerebral palsy. Although certain careers, such as manual labor or roles requiring consistent physical exertion, might not be practical, plenty of alternatives exist that place a premium on cognitive skills over physical attributes.

  • Software Developer: Software developers are responsible for designing, coding, and debugging applications. This career leverages logical thinking and problem-solving skills, and the median annual salary is $124,200. Trade schools and online academies offer specialized courses to help people acquire the skills needed in this field.
  • Medical Lab Technician: These professionals work behind the scenes in healthcare, analyzing lab results and conducting tests. Skillful work with analysis and technology is essential, rather than physical labor. The median annual salary for a medical lab technician is $57,380. Vocational schools and community colleges often provide an associate’s degree in medical laboratory technology.
  • IT Support Specialist: IT support specialists identify and resolve computer and network issues. This role requires strong problem-solving abilities and an understanding of IT systems, typically with no physically demanding tasks. The median annual salary for an IT support specialist is $59,660. Trade schools and community colleges typically offer relevant certifications and degree programs.
  • Cybersecurity Analyst: Cybersecurity analysts protect computer systems against digital threats. The median annual salary for a cybersecurity analyst is $112,000. Trade and technical schools offer specialized programs where individuals can acquire the necessary skills in this domain.

Cognitive Disabilities

Cognitive disabilities can impact an individual’s ability to process and understand information. However, despite these challenges, there are many rewarding opportunities that capitalize on hands-on, practical skills and offer a more structured and routine-oriented work environment.

  • Culinary Arts: Culinary arts offer a structured environment and the opportunity to create concrete outcomes. With an average salary of $56,520 for chefs and head cooks, this field can be rewarding for those with cognitive disabilities. Many vocational schools and community colleges offer Culinary Arts programs.
  • Auto Mechanic: Do cars and engines spark your interest? Becoming an auto mechanic could be your path. Fixing issues and bringing cars back to life not only offers a structured routine but also immediate, palpable results. The median annual salary? Around $46,970. There are many training programs at trade schools and community colleges ready to gear you up for this journey.
  • Landscaping: Landscape artists create stunning outdoor spaces. Ground maintenance workers have a median annual salary of about $73,210. Some vocational schools can lead budding landscapers through courses in landscaping or horticulture.
  • Woodworking / Carpentry: The world of woodworking and carpentry offers immersive and therapeutic workspace experiences characterized by structured, repetitive tasks. Carpenters can earn a median annual salary of roughly $51,390. Aspiring woodworkers and carpenters can explore this craft further with programs provided by various trade schools.

Hearing Impairments

Living with a hearing impairment doesn’t mean you’re out of options for an amazing career. In fact, there are plenty of jobs out there that don’t rely so much on hearing, but instead, use more of your visual or technical skills.

Let’s take a look at some of these careers.

  • Lab Technician: A career as a lab technician requires both precision and comprehensive analytical skills, typically involving meticulous tests and data handling. This role commands a median annual salary of approximately $57,380. Prospective lab technicians can pursue associate degrees in medical laboratory technology from vocational schools or community colleges, providing the necessary foundation for the job.
  • Welder: Welding is a hands-on profession that necessitates accuracy and expertise in diverse welding techniques more than auditory capabilities. Welders, cutters, and welding machine operators can anticipate an annual median salary of around $47,540. Trade schools commonly provide training and certification programs for this sector.
  • Landscaper: Grounds and landscaping artists focus on physical work and aesthetics, and the median annual salary for grounds maintenance workers is $30,400. Some vocational schools provide courses in landscaping or horticulture to launch this career.
  • Graphic Designer: Being a graphic designer revolves heavily around visual creativity, thus dialing down the need for auditory communication. With a median annual salary of $57,990, it’s an enticing pathway for hearing-impaired creatives. Vocational, trade, or art schools could be possible starting points, as they frequently offer graphic design programs.

Visual Impairments

Even though dealing with a visual impairment can be challenging, it doesn’t mean you can’t find a great career. There are jobs available that use your other senses and strengths more instead of relying on sight.

Here are our top picks:

  • Massage Therapist: The touch of a skilled massage therapist can alleviate stress and soothe tense muscles. With a median annual salary of $49,860, this profession proves rewarding in many ways. Prospective massage therapists can find dedicated courses in vocational schools or even through adult education programs.
  • Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics: If a mechanical issue arises, it’s often keen touch and hearing that diagnose the problem. Automotive service technicians and mechanics enjoy a median annual salary of $42,090. Training programs and certifications for this profession are usually accessible at trade schools and community colleges.
  • Medical Transcriptionist: Ever seen doctors dictating notes on a recording device? Medical transcriptionists transcribe these dictations verbatim. Earning a median annual salary of $34,730, transcriptionists can find programs for necessary training at trade schools and community colleges.
  • Music Teacher: Music teaching relies on sound rather than sight, which can be rewarding for individuals with visual impairments. The median annual salary for self-enrolled music teachers is $ 77,280. Trade schools, community colleges, and adult education programs offer programs for music teaching.

Real World Success Story

There’s power in personal stories. They inspire us, encourage us, and help us understand our own potential. In this case, we couldn’t find a better story than that of Bobby Lee.

Bobby Lee, a 20-year-old student at TACT (Teaching the Autism Community Trades), embodies determination and talent. Bobby’s journey at TACT began with him exploring his interests and getting hands-on experience in carpentry. His dedication and skills soon shone through when he started crafting desks and successfully selling them. Bobby’s distinct perspective on his learning disability did not pose a barrier; rather, it became his strength, enabling him to excel in his chosen area.

Bobby’s journey reflects the founder, Danny Combs, which is closely tied to his son’s experiences. His son was diagnosed with autism at age 2 and, as a 14-year-old, loves working on cars. Together, they are currently restoring a 1977 Mercedes they bought for $800. Inspired by his son, Danny established TACT in 2016, the first trade school in the nation specifically for young people with autism.

At TACT, Combs ensures that students receive a student-centered learning experience. With about 80 students enrolled in trade skills courses, the student-to-teacher ratio is kept as low as six students per class. Even more exciting, TACT provides training in advanced technology, like Tesla engines, challenging students to deconstruct and reassemble them.

The impact of TACT, however, extends beyond the school grounds. The program’s graduates, around 83% of students, have found employment in 68 celebrated companies, including Jiffy Lube, Sturgeon Electric, Colorado Floor Company, Ball Aerospace, Groove Toyota, and SNS IronWorks.

Bobby’s success, imbued with his resilient story and the vision of Danny Combs, underscores the difference that a supportive and empowering environment can make in finding fulfilling careers for individuals with learning disabilities. This is more than a story of achievement. It’s proof that unique talents and perspectives carry immense value and potential.

What People With Disabilities Should Look for in a Trade School

Life presents us with a plethora of pathways. Sometimes, having many options makes deciding next steps challenging. Especially when you have a disability, the decision-making process demands additional consideration. After all, everyone deserves colleges that respects and celebrates their unique tracks to success.

As a person with disabilities, choosing the right trade school becomes vital to kickstart our journey toward growth and self-reliance. Here’s a closer look at the factors to consider:

  • Job Placement Success: How successful are a school’s graduates in finding jobs? Successful schools have around an 83% job placement rate after graduation. Higher percentages usually mean the school has a strong curriculum with valuable connections in the industry.
  • Accreditation: Every good school should be accredited. This guarantees your training, and your certification holds real weight in the professional arena. Plus, accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid – helping put your educational dreams within reach.
  • Programs: Finding a school that offers diverse programs is important. Having a wide range of options allows you to pick something you love, maybe it’s carpentry or, perhaps, working on Tesla engines. A good school will use modern tools and provide hands-on experience to help students understand better.
  • Accessibility: This asset is crucial. A school should offer the right support as stipulated by the American Disabilities Act. Schools should provide things like a note taker, a sign language interpreter, or adaptive software on their computers, ensuring all students have an equal chance.

A disability doesn’t define your ability to succeed. You’ve got unique talents that are just waiting to be discovered. With patience, hard work, and a good school, anyone can build a successful career and live their best life.

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