What Is a Job Coach? And Who Might Hire One

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Job coaches support people with disabilities as they get ready to enter the workforce, working with them to secure employment, learn job tasks, and adjust to their new role.

[Featured image] A job coach sits in a chair in his office leaning toward the camera and ready to learn about his new client.

A job coach supports people with disabilities as they prepare to enter the workforce. They may work with a person individually or in a group setting, either in or out of the workplace, as they build the skills and habits necessary for success in a specific job function.

In this article, we’ll go over more details about a job coach’s responsibilities, skills, and qualifications, as well as offer some guidance on where to find a job coach.

Job coach vs. career coach vs. career counselor

There are many options for people seeking support with their careers. If a job coach doesn’t sound right for you, you may be interested in finding a career coach or career counselor.

A career coach supports individuals as they navigate their career path, offering guidance through job changes, the application process, or settling into a new role. A career counselor may have a background in psychology or human development and supports individuals as they assess their career goals and desires.

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What does a job coach do?

Ultimately, a job coach aims to enable and empower people to fulfill their job function without persistent one-on-one assistance. Some key responsibilities of a job coach include:

  • Connecting an individual’s capabilities and interests to potential jobs within their community

  • Coordinating with employers to secure employment and negotiate customized job responsibilities on behalf of the individual

  • Facilitating job trainings for tasks specific to the individual’s job function

  • Working with the individual as they adjust to their new role

  • Advocating for the individual throughout their employment period

Who might work with a job coach?

Broadly, a job coach may offer support to any person with a disability. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN), offers some examples of people who benefitted from working with a job coach, including [1]:

  • An individual with an anxiety disorder getting a job in the kitchen at a restaurant

  • A person with Down Syndrome working in customer care at a grocery store

  • A person with a cognitive disability working as a janitor

  • An individual on the autism spectrum finding a job at a fast food chain

  • A military veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) working as a customer service representative 

Job coach qualifications

Although they work closely with a wide range of personality types and job functions, job coaches often don’t require extensive qualifications. Typically, a job coach will need a high school diploma and strong interpersonal skills, and they’ll receive role-specific training upon their hiring.

Job coaches will often find employment with government agencies or help networks dedicated to serving people with disabilities. Some employers may look for job coaches with experience working with people with specific disabilities, knowledge of government support services, and established connections with local businesses. Specific requirements will vary depending on the employer’s needs.   

Job coach vs. occupational therapist

While a job coach helps individuals prepare for a specific job, an occupational therapist treats patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities as they recover or develop the physical ability to accomplish daily tasks. They typically need a master’s degree in occupational therapy, as well as a state-issued license to practice.

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How to find a job coach

Many people will begin their search for a job coach by contacting their state’s vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency. VR agencies both facilitate programs for people with disabilities and work with non-profit organizations who may be able to provide more specialized services.

If you already work with a non-profit organization for other services, they may also be able to provide job-specific support or refer you to an organization that can.

Keep learning

If you are interested in exploring your own career success potential or helping others discover theirs, consider the Career Success Specialization from the University of California, Irvine’s Division of Continuing Education, available on Coursera. Work through each online course at your own pace from anywhere with an internet connection.

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Article sources

1. Job Action Network. “Accommodation and Compliance: Job Coaches, https://askjan.org/topics/Job-Coaches.cfm.” Accessed March 30, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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