Duties and responsibilities
A vocational rehabilitation consultant helps people with physical, mental, developmental, and emotional disabilities live independently and get back to work. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Developing and coordinating the implementation of vocational rehabilitation programs
- Consulting with members of local communities and personnel of rehabilitation facilities, such as sheltered workshops and skills training centers, to identify the need for new programs or modification of existing programs
- Collecting and analyzing data to define problems and develop proposals for programs to provide the services needed
- Utilizing knowledge of vocational rehabilitation theory and practice, program funding sources and government regulations
- Providing staff training, negotiating contracts for equipment and supplies and performing related functions to implement program changes
- Monitoring program operations and recommending additional measures to ensure programs meet defined needs
Most employers require vocational rehabilitation consultants to have a bachelors degree and a masters degree in a related field. Master’s degree programs teach students the theories, skills, and techniques that will enable them to provide effective vocational rehabilitation consulting. Although some employers do hire workers with a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation and disability studies, these degrees do not allow for as much career progression.
Skills and relevant work experience
Vocational rehabilitation consultants will need skills such as:
- Problem solving skills, as vocational rehabilitation consultants will have to help clients solve the problems they will face surrounding going back to work
- Patience, as working with disability can be a slow and frustrating process
- Compassion and empathy, as vocational rehabilitation consultants will need to help people improve their lives and therefore must understand their needs and concerns
- Communication skills, both written and verbal, as vocational rehabilitation consultants will need to communicate their ideas to patients and keep written documents up to date
Vocational rehabilitation consultants tend to work full time. They may, however, have to work nights or weekends to accommodate to their patients schedule. They may have to spend time travelling from one client to another and they will spend a lot of their day on their feet.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for occupational therapists, which includes vocational rehabilitation consultants, was $84,950 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $56,800, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $121,490.
Vocational rehabilitation consultants can progress to more senior positions, where they instruct a team, or to opening their own practices.