At the NAS Information Centre we are often contacted by people who are interested in working with children or adults with autism.
Whilst we are not careers advisors, we hope that this information sheet will introduce you to some areas of work in which you are likely to be working with people with autism. We would recommend that you seek further information and advice from a careers advice service and the relevant professional body for the type of work you are interested in.
Graduate Prospects is the UK's leading provider of information, advice and opportunities to students and graduates.
Tel: 0161 277 5200
National Careers Service
The National Careers Service provides information, advice and guidance to help you make decisions on learning, training and work opportunities. The service offers confidential and impartial advice. This is supported by qualified careers advisers.
Tel: 0800 100 900
Careers Wales offer careers advice in Welsh and English to young people and adults of all ages.
Tel: 0800 100 900
Skills Development Scotland offer careers advice to young people and adults of all ages.
Tel: 0141 285 6000
Careers Service Northern Ireland offer careers advice to young people and adults of all ages through their website and local careers offices.
Tel: 0300 200 7820
It is possible to study for a postgraduate qualification in autism or Asperger syndrome. Some graduates choose to undertake such a qualification for personal or professional development but it is rarely a required qualification in a job specification. For details of postgraduate courses in autism and Asperger syndrome please refer to our information sheet Courses for professionals in autism and other related topics available on our website.
There are many roles that involve working with very young children in which you may be working with a child who has recently been diagnosed with autism. Early years professionals are likely to be among the first people outside of the child’s family to spot the early signs of autism and may also be involved in specialist early intervention work with a child with autism. You could be working as a health visitor, nanny, childminder, nursery nurse, children’s centre manager, or a therapist engaged in an early intervention programme such as early intensive behavioural intervention.
Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years
Tel: 0300 003 0005
Pre-school Learning Alliance
Tel: 020 7697 2595
National Day Nurseries Association
Tel: 01484 407070
Specialist agency that places experienced nannies and carers with families who have babies and children with additional needs.
Tel: 020 7729 2200
Parents for the Early intervention of Autism (PEACH)
Charity established to promote early intensive behavioural intervention (EIBI) for young children with autism, often referred to as applied behavioural analysis (ABA).
Tel: 01344 882248
Whether based in a mainstream or specialist school, teachers can expect to teach pupils with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) throughout their career. As a teacher you may be based in a mainstream school with or without a specialist unit for pupils with ASD, in a special school, or in an autism or Asperger syndrome specific school. Whichever setting you would like to be based in you will need to qualify as a teacher first, either through a teaching degree or a postgraduate course following a subject-based degree.
As a teaching assistant (TA) or Learning Support Assistant (LSA) you could be providing valuable one-to-one support for a pupil with ASD. You will not need a teaching qualification but some training and experience may be required, or you may be supported to train while working.
Another career opportunity in education and autism is educational psychology. You will be supporting individual children who experience difficulties in school and be involved in assessments and intervention. Typically a psychology degree (or conversion course) is required for this profession, followed by a doctorate in educational psychology. The British Psychological Society can provide further information.
Teach in Scotland
Tel: 0845 345 4745
The British Psychological Society
Tel: 0116 254 9568
Healthcare professionals and workers may come into contact with people with autism in a variety of ways. As a paediatrician or psychiatrist you may train in the diagnosis of ASD. As a clinical psychologist you could also be providing behavioural support. Careers in nursing may involve working with people with autism and their families, especially in the areas of learning disability, mental health, school nursing, and health visits.
You could be providing therapy such as a speech and language therapist, or an occupational therapist, or you may be assisting with a specific health issue such as a dietitian helping with dietary difficulties. Some people with autism may also experience mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, so you could train in mental health, or become a counsellor.
The information service for careers in the NHS in England.
Tel: 0345 60 60 655
NHS Education for Scotland
Health Professions Council
The regulatory body for health professionals. Provides information on approved courses.
Tel: 0845 300 6184
Royal College of Psychiatrists
Tel: 020 7235 2351
The British Psychological Society
Tel: 0116 254 9568
Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
Tel: 020 7378 1200
College of Occupational Therapists
Tel: 020 7357 6480
British Dietetic Association
Tel: 0121 200 8080
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
Tel: 01455 883300
A career in social care encompasses a broad range of professional and paraprofessional roles. This could include social work, residential service management, or care assistance. It is possible to specialise in a particular area, eg as a social worker you could work with children with disabilities.
Individuals with autism and their families may come into contact with social care professionals for a range of reasons, eg a social worker may carry out an assessment of their needs, or they could be a resident in a residential service or supported living scheme. Some specialist autism schools offer residential placements so you could work in a care and support role with children.
The qualifications needed will depend on the profession and role. Some paraprofessional and ancillary roles will enable you to train on the job either through informal short courses, or by completing Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) knowledge units specifically about autism.
Skills for Care and Development
Skills for Care and Development is the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for people working in early years, children and young people’s services, and those working in social work and social care for children and adults in the UK.
Tel: 0113 390 7666
Community Care Student Zone
Information and advice for social work students.
Therapists engaged in a range of interventions may work with children or adults with autism. You could specialise in art, drama, music, or play therapy. Typically you would have both a theoretical and practical background in the discipline so for example a music therapist would have a music degree, or a similar level of musical training and a degree in another relevant subject, such as psychology, followed by a postgraduate qualification in music therapy. The organisations below can provide further information on these therapies and entry requirements for the profession. If you would like to explore a range of interventions and their effectiveness please visit the Research Autism website.
British Association of Art Therapists
Tel: 020 7686 4216
British Association of Drama Therapists
Tel: 01242 235 515
British Association for Music Therapy
Tel: 020 7837 6142
British Association of Play Therapists
Tel: 01932 828638
You could directly or indirectly support people with autism through a career in the voluntary sector. You may work in one of the above professions or roles and be employed by a charity, or you could be in a different role.
The NAS, for example employs staff in a range of roles including information, advice, campaigning, family support, and regional development. You may also wish to consider volunteering. The NAS welcomes volunteers who are able to offer a regular commitment.
Where can I look for job vacancies or volunteering opportunities working with people with autism?
• www.autism.org.uk/jobs for job vacancies at the NAS
• www.autism.org.uk/volunteer for volunteering opportunities at the NAS
• www.autism.org.uk/directory for services for people with autism that may have job vacancies or volunteering opportunities in your area
• www.autismjobs.org for job vacancies working with people with autism or to advertise your services
• www.charityjob.co.uk for job vacancies in the voluntary sector
• http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/st/jobs-society.html for job vacancies in the public and voluntary sectors. The Guardian also publishes a Society supplement on Wednesdays that lists job vacancies in the public and voluntary sectors
• http://jobs.communitycare.co.uk/ for job vacancies in social care
• Local newspapers