Supported employmentis a new rehabilitation service option that offers many career opportunities. It is not a profession, but a service provided to many individuals with disabilities. The term "supported employment" refers to ongoing services provided to support individuals with the most severe disabilities in the maintenance of employment.
Supported employment programs employ employment specialists or job coaches and, in some instances job training specialists and job development specialists. (For information on job placement or job development specialists, refer to the section on "rehabilitation job development and placement in this publication." Presently, there are no educational requirements for the position of employment specialist or job training specialist, although many colleges and universities are offering bachelor or master's programs with emphasis in supported employment. Employing organizations often indicate a preference for individuals who possess a bachelor's degree in rehabilitation, special education, or a related field.
There are no certification requirements for the positions listed above. Training programs are available which offer certificates, but there is no established set of criteria which govern competencies or skill requirements on a national scale. Competency information from a variety of sources is available from the Association for Persons in Supported Employment (APSE). See Appendix A for more information.
Employment specialists and job coaches provide assistance to individuals engaged in Supported Employment. In the majority of cases, this assistance is provided on the job site with the goal of helping employed clients maintain employment. Duties performed include consumer assessment, job development, placement, training, and long-term follow-along. In some cases, the position is split between a job coach and a job development specialist, in which case the job coach concentrates on job site issues and related skills, while the job development specialist focuses on developing community job opportunities.
Specialized personnel for supported employment work in many different job settings. According to national data, many supported employment programs are operated by community rehabilitation programs. In other instances, job coaches and job development specialists are employed by state vocational rehabilitation agencies, public schools and organizations established for the sole purpose of providing supported employment services.
Earnings are highly variable, according to work setting and geographic location. Salaries for state agency and public sector job development specialists range from $10,000 to $27,000 per year. Starting salaries for job coaches typically range from $8 to $13 per hour.
Additional Information Source
Association for Persons in Supported Employment (APSE)
1627 Monument Avenue, Room 301
Richmond, VA 23220