Print

Careers >> Browse Articles >> Career Profiles

+10

Special Education Teacher

Special Education Teacher

U.S. Department of Labor

Job Description

Special education teachers work with children and youths who have a variety of disabilities. A small number of special education teachers work with students with mental retardation or autism, primarily teaching them life skills and basic literacy. However, the majority of special education teachers work with children with mild to moderate disabilities, using the general education curriculum, or modifying it, to meet the child’s individual needs. Most special education teachers instruct students at the elementary, middle, and secondary school level, although some teachers work with infants and toddlers.

Median Salary (2006-2007)

Average for All Special Education Teachers: $51,503

PreK-5: $49,710

Middle School: $52,550

High School: $ 52,520

Educational Requirements

All 50 States and the District of Columbia require special education teachers to be licensed. The State board of education or a licensure advisory committee usually grants licenses, and licensure varies by State. In some States, special education teachers receive a general education credential to teach kindergarten through grade 12. These teachers then train in a specialty, such as learning disabilities or behavioral disorders. Many States offer general special education licenses across a variety of disability categories, while others license several different specialties within special education.

Teaching Career Links

  • The Most Comprehensive Teacher Salary Guide on the Internet Read now.
  • Certification Requirements for U.S. Teaching Read now.

For traditional licensing, all States require a bachelor’s degree and the completion of an approved teacher preparation program with a prescribed number of subject and education credits and supervised practice teaching. However, many States require a master’s degree in special education, involving at least 1 year of additional course work, including a specialization, beyond the bachelor’s degree. Often a prospective teacher must pass a professional assessment test as well. Some States have reciprocity agreements allowing special education teachers to transfer their licenses from one State to another, but many others still require that experienced teachers reapply and pass licensing requirements to work in the State.

For specific state requirements, read 50 States Certification Reciprocity. For more information about becoming a teacher, read our helpful guide, Ten Steps to Becoming a Teacher.

Find a Job

The last data shows that almost 500,000 special education teachers were employed PreK-12 across the US.

Search our job listings for Special Education teaching positions

From the Editor

Find more products like these


Teaching School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use Teaching's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.


* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.