What does a Vocational Expert do?

Sheri Cyprus

A vocational expert (VE) provides work-related assessments for individuals, businesses, corporations, governments and courts. His or her main objective is to pinpoint employment opportunities that match a particular client's skills, experience, abilities and potential. In completing this objective effectively, a vocational expert must stay constantly informed about the condition of the labor market.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Keeping up with current conditions of all industries and job sectors is an ongoing duty of vocational experts. This knowledge can then be applied to an expert opinion of whether a particular individual is fit for work based on his or her unique situation. At court disability hearings, a vocational expert is often called in to provide a professional opinion of an individual's suitability for work. The expert may advise the court that this person's chance of employment is unlikely or, alternatively, specify what jobs in which he or she is likely to be hired.

Vocational experts must understand different impairments and how these can interfere with employment. An impairment may be physical, emotional or cognitive. For example, a person with brain damage who cannot think clearly may have trouble securing any type of employment due to this cognitive impairment. A vocational expert can determine if there is any type of position suitable for this person, and, if so, he or she will help the individual find such an employment opportunity.

Assessing potential is a commonly occurring theme in the work of vocational experts. Armed with the current labor conditions and an analysis of individuals' employment potential, a vocational expert must make educated assessments. He or she is trained to identify limitations in clients' education or training that may keep them from finding work.

Career counseling is typically part of vocational experts' jobs. A vocational expert evaluates a client's strengths and weaknesses in terms of his or her suitability for work in the current job market. If a person is lacking certain education or training to better prepare him or her for a certain career, vocational experts may recommend certain courses or programs for the individual to consider.

Whenever possible, a vocational expert will place a person looking for work into a job. Businesses and governments as well as individual clients hire the services of vocational experts. To avoid discrimination charges as well as to hire people with a disability with the goal of a diverse workplace, an increasing number of companies and government agencies are hiring workers who may have a disability. Vocational experts may work with both the employer and the employee to be sure that the needs of both sides will be adequately met or an expert may advise that the employment should not occur.

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