While deaf and hard of hearing employees work in all fields imaginable, one has to wonder what are the most common professional jobs that deaf and hard of hearing people have in the past two decades. The job list below is not empirical-based, but it gives an indication of the common types of employment currently held by deaf and hard of hearing professionals as seen on a specialized deaf job board site.
Five Most Common Professional Jobs for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People
- Deaf Education Teacher
- Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
- Employment Specialist
- American Sign Language (ASL) Teacher
- Residential Program Staff
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teacher: A career in teaching deaf and hard of hearing children can range from educating infants to working in elementary and secondary settings. Many teachers or educators working with deaf and hard of hearing students are employed in deaf schools or in public schools where deaf and hard of hearing students are mainstreamed.
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor: This profession helps deaf individuals (including other people with disabilities) to achieve fuller and independent lives by supporting them in securing gainful and competitive employment. Most VR counselors work in state government such as the Department of Rehabilitation Services and the like. Many VR counselors have the authority to fund individualized plans for employment using either federal or state dollars.
Employment Specialist: While an employment specialist’s job description parallels with a VR counselor, there are several important differences between these jobs. An employment specialist is often referred to help with matching candidates with specific positions within an organization or a company. Most employee specialists provide guidance to candidates through employment process, assisting with job search and job placement. They also assist candidates with developing appropriate social skills and work habits as well. Many employment specialists work in agencies in the private sector, either for-profit or non-profit.
American Sign Language (ASL) Teacher: ASL teachers educate students at all ages and grade levels, both to hearing and deaf students. They primarily work in schools ranging from K-12 programs to colleges and universities. ASL teachers also educate those who are studying advanced ASL as part of an interpreter program. Many higher education institutions require ASL teachers to obtain certification through the American Sign Language Teacher’s Association (ASLTA).
Residential Program Staff: A career in residential programs can range from a residential technician, residential program manager, program service coordinator and director of residential programs and services. The age range of residents within the residential programs can be from children to senior citizens. Some residential programs specialize in working with individuals that have special needs or behavioral issues. Many deaf and hard of hearing employees move up in the ranks from the entry-level jobs to managerial roles within the residential programs.
Looking Into the Future
What are the hottest jobs for deaf and hard of hearing people in the next 20 years? While fields are continually changing, the current trends are pointing to five specific fields that have a great promise for future deaf and hard of hearing employees. Again, the list below is not empirical, but one cannot deny the rapid growth in each field.
Top Five Fastest Growing Professional Fields for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People
- Health Care
- Social Services
Health Care: As seen in many publications, the health care field is booming. With the growth of particular branches of health care, deaf and hard of hearing individuals are having great success in various health care-related fields, thanks to higher learning institutions such as National Technical Institute for the Deaf, University of Rochester and Gallaudet University. The Rochester Bridges to the Doctorate Program is producing many deaf and hard of hearing health care providers and scientists of tomorrow.
Education: Currently, there are a plethora of teaching job vacancies for deaf and hard of hearing people, especially in the K-12 programs across the country. A simple search on job search engine websites will confirm this. Many schools with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Programs experience severe shortage of school teachers. There are not enough Deaf and Hard of Hearing or Special Education Teachers to meet the demand. This is likely not going to change in the next 20 years. In addition, more and more deaf and hard of hearing persons will work as university professors as well.
Technology: The fields in technology are continually expanding, especially in e-commerce and cybersecurity. The hiring opportunities for information security analysts as well as e-commerce business analysts are increasing in double digits percentage, ahead of many other fields. Deaf and hard of hearing people should gain employment in this area in the next two decades as many of them become tech-savvy at the young age.
Social Services: Social services include many occupations such as counselors, therapists, psychologist, social workers, attorneys, community health workers, life coaches and personal trainers, etc. While these jobs are cropping up everywhere, it is without any doubt that these jobs are also gaining popularity with deaf and hard of hearing people as potential careers due to the fact that the helping professions do not become obsolete.
Interpreting: Yes, you read this right. The interpreting profession is rapidly growing for deaf and hard of hearing people. Certified Deaf Interpreters are gaining acceptance within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community as well as in the ASL Interpreting field. Not only deaf people become interpreters, some are gaining employment as educators in the Interpreting Training Programs (ITPs) across the country teaching both hearing and deaf students to become professional interpreters.
In conclusion, the lists above are not exhaustive but may serve as a snapshot of top current and future jobs for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Like hearing people, deaf and hard of hearing people have so many careers to choose from and to excel at their chosen professions.