What Does A Special Education Teacher Do?

Have you ever met someone and asked, “What is it that you do?” and they tell you, “I’m a special education teacher,” and you sit wondering, what does a special education teacher do? This article is here to help you.

Special education teachers can oversee the education and training of students with physical, emotional, mental, and learning disabilities.

They design and deliver lessons tailored to the individual needs and skills of the students under their supervision. Special education teachers teach at kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school levels.

In 2016, the United States employed approximately 439,300 special education teachers.

Article Road Map

What Is Special Education?

Special education is the practice of teaching students in a way that suits their individual differences, disabilities, and special needs.

Ideally, this process involves the systematic planning and supervision of instructional procedures, modified tools and resources, and easily accessible settings.

These interventions are designed to help people with special needs achieve a higher level of self-sufficiency and success in school and their community, which may not be available if a student is only given access to regular classroom education.

Summarily, special education helps children with emotional, behavioral, or mental disabilities or those with hearing, vision, speech, or learning impairments or disabilities.

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Duties And Responsibilities Of Special Education Teachers

The duties of special education teachers may vary according to the degree to which they are teaching and the nature of their employment, but some general duties include:

  • Collaborate with other classroom teachers, school psychologists, learning-disabled professionals, speech/hearing professionals, and school social workers to provide an integrated program to develop their students’ skills.
  • Set learning goals for each student, check their progress and record their analysis.
  • Inform parents of their student’s progress and ask for parental support for their homework designed to aid their classroom learning.
  • See and train teaching assistants.
  • Help plan their students’ transition to productive life after completing their high school education.

Salaries For Special Education Teachers

Despite additional challenges and tasks, special education teachers earn equal pay to other teachers.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled the following information on their salaries.

  • Average Annual Salary: $ 59,780 ($ 28.74 / hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: Over $ 97,070 ($ 46.67 / hour)
  • Lower 10% Annual Salary: Less than $ 39,680 ($ 19.08 / hour)

Education, Training, And Certification

A special education teacher job requires education and certification sometimes.


Special education teachers in public schools require at least a bachelor’s degree. Some teachers receive a bachelor’s degree, especially in education or specialized education.

Some states require people to be certified in special education (like obtaining a master’s degree). Many school districts cater to the needs of students with a master’s degree.

Training And Information

Many special education teachers must complete a certain number of teaching hours for students before obtaining certificates.

Special education teachers may learn to plan lessons and manage the classroom under the guidance of a leading teacher during student teaching.


Many provinces require people to pass a certification test. Teachers in private schools also need a bachelor’s degree but may not need to be accredited.

Some teachers obtain licenses for specific categories of disabilities, such as behavioral disorders or autism.

Special Education Teacher Skills and Techniques

There are many skills aimed at special education teachers, including empathy, patience, and discipline.

Critical Thinking Skills

Special education should accurately assess students’ progress and tailor lessons to suit their needs.


These students often need different teaching methods and are not quick to respond. It can be hard work, and the ability to slow down and be patient can be tiring.

Communication Skills

These teachers should be able to communicate with parents, other teachers, and administrators, in addition to the children under their supervision.

Think Outside The Box

Not all these children can be taught the same way. A good specialist teacher will be able to consider different ways to reach students and guide them to progress.

Special education teachers have amazing personalities. They are usually social, which means being kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, compassionate, intelligent, and friendly. They excel at sharing, helping others, and teaching. Others are inquisitive, intelligent, thoughtful, and curious.

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Work Schedule

Many specialist teachers work on school days and during school hours, but they may also work after school hours to grade paperwork and take care of administrative tasks.

Special education teachers usually have summer breaks, although some schools have summer programs that may require additional months at work. These teachers often go for mid-winter breaks and spring breaks.


Are you qualified to be a special education teacher? 

Being a regular teacher is quite a challenging job. You have to deal with children or students that are not yours.

However, some teachers have pulled through due to their love for the art of teaching and child care. Being a special education teacher is quite demanding, almost twice of being a regular teacher.

However, with the guides from this article, we sure hope you have an answer to the question; What does a special education teacher do? 

If you are considering a career in special education, well, the ball is in your court, and with the tips from this article, you sure have a good starting point.

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