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What is an Employment Specialist?

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Employment specialists assist people in finding the jobs that are best suited to their abilities and the requirements of the employers. Employment specialists most often work with under-employed populations, such as those with disabilities, a lack of education and poor work histories. They typically are employed by social service agencies, government entities and nonprofit organizations.

Preparation for the Role

You may become an employment specialist with a high school diploma, or with a two- or four-year degree in social work, psychology or mental health. Many employment specialists bring a wealth of life experience to the job and can relate well with clients because they have been through similar circumstances. For example, former drug addicts or felons often make effective employment specialists working with a similar population in transition. Once you’ve worked at least one year on a job, you can earn professional certification, such as through the Association of People Supporting Employment First. You may also continue your training through programs such as the courses offered by the Boggs Center of Developmental Disabilities at Rutgers University.

Assess Client Abilities

An employment specialist determines the abilities of clients before trying to match them with jobs. You may provide reading and math tests, watch a client perform a manual task or interview clients to assess their communication skills. Once you’ve determined the most viable route for a client to be successfully employed, then you have to figure out what kinds of training will prepare the client to move into the workplace.

Teach Workplace Skills

As an employment specialist, you may teach and train clients yourself. You may hold classes to teach basic workplace skills, such as how to communicate with authorities and how to dress for work. You may also need to show clients how to work a machine, put together items or work on an assembly line. In some cases, you may accompany clients to the job site and remain with them until they’ve mastered the process.

Serve Employer Needs

An employment specialist also serves as the link between employers, your agency and the clients. The role of employer liaison is a career advancement for employment specialists in some agencies that work with a vast number of employers. At smaller organizations, the employment specialist is also the employer recruiter, finding jobs for clients and learning about employer needs. At the same time, the employment specialist also may serve as a consultant to employers, providing support, education and additional workers as needed.


Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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