Special Education

Special education teachers work with students-from toddlers to those in their early 20s-who have a variety of disabilities. Most special education teachers are found at the elementary, middle, and secondary school level. Special education teachers design and modify instruction to meet a student's special needs. Teachers also work with students who have other special instructional needs, including those who are gifted and talented.

Teachers can have great impact on the social, personal, and intellectual development of individuals. Their influence stems from a love of learning; a talent for awakening students to new modes of thinking; an understanding of the human development process; and professional skills. Teachers must have the ability to communicate, inspire trust and confidence, and motivate students, as well as understand their educational and emotional needs. They also should be organized, dependable, patient, and creative. A general description of teacher work activities includes: planning courses; instructing students; evaluating student performance; supervising student activities; performing administrative duties; advising students; interacting with faculty, parents, and employers; and keeping up with developments in the field. Although certification is required for public school teachers (k-12) in all 50 states, some states offer alternative teacher certification programs to attract otherwise qualified persons into the field. Aspiring teachers who need certification may also enter programs that grant a master's degree in education, as well as certification.

Related Career Titles:

  • Adapted Physical Education Teacher
  • Autism Center Manager/Teacher
  • Camp Director
  • Child Psychologist
  • Counselor
  • Creative Arts Therapist
  • Day-Care Center Owner/Operator
  • Educational Advocate
  • Special Education Teacher - Schools
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Employee Development Specialist
  • Employment Interviewer
  • Language/Audiologist
  • Librarian
  • Lobbyist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Orientation and Mobility Specialist
  • Peace Corps/Vista Worker
  • Student Teacher Advisor
  • Teacher - Adult Education
  • Teacher of English as a Second Language
  • Physical Therapist
  • Professor, College/University
  • Recreational Therapist
  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Research Assistant
  • School Principal
  • School Psychologist
  • Social Worker
  • Teacher of the Hearing Impaired
  • Special Needs Teacher
  • Tutor
Special Needs may include but are not limited to the following:
  • Autism
  • Brain Injury
  • Emotional/Behavioral Disorders
  • Hearing Impaired
  • LD
  • MDD
  • Visually Impaired
  • Academically Gifted

Related major skills:

  • Compassion
  • Understanding
  • Ability to plan
  • Help students develop emotionally
  • Interact with faculty, staff, parents
  • Patience
  • Accepting of differences
  • Variety of teaching techniques
  • Creativity
  • Work with students individually
  • Prepare students for life after graduation
  • Work in variety of settings
  • Communication with parents
  • Good communication skills
  • Knowledge of legal issues
  • Well organized
  • Work with students in groups
  • Adaptable and flexible
  • Technology skills
  • Enjoy challenges


Salaries range greatly from one occupation, position, and work setting to another. According to the Summer 2008 NACE national salary survey for Bachelor's Degree Candidates in Special Education, the average salary was $34,546.


Jobs in Education http://www.jobsineducation.com/

Nation Job Network: Education Jobs Page http://www.nationjob.com/education/

Academic Employment Network http://www.academploy.com/

K-12 Jobs.com http://www.k12jobs.com/

The Teacher's Employment Network http://www.teachingjobs.com/

Teachers-Teachers.com http://www.teachers-teachers.com/index2.cfm

Teaching Jobs Overseas http://joyjobs.com/

Organizations & Associations:

The Council for Exceptional Children http://www.cec.sped.org

Miscellaneous Resources:

Assistive Technology http://www.dreamms.org

The National Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education http://www.specialedcareers.org/

Center for the Study of Autism http://www.autism.org/

Education World http://www.education-world.com/