How to become a Teacher - Special Education

Special education teachers develop and conduct learning programmes for preschool, primary and secondary students who have learning difficulties or an impairment in their physical, sensory, emotional or intellectual abilities. Some also teach students who are intellectually gifted.

Personal requirements of a Teacher - Special Education

  • Dedicated, patient and tactful
  • Able to relate easily to children
  • Flexible and adaptable
  • Able to motivate students to learn
  • Able to communicate simply and clearly
  • Understanding of people's special needs
  • Prepared to work outside of school hours

Education & Training for a Teacher - Special Education

To become a special education teacher you usually have to complete a degree in education, specialising in special education. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are normally required. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. Alternatively, you can undertake a Graduate Diploma of Education, specialising in special education, after completing a degree in teaching or other relevant areas such as arts, social work or disability studies.

Additional Information

Before undertaking practical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a Working with Children Check. A National Police Certificate may also be required. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. You will also need to register with the teaching board in your state or territory. Teachers are required by mandatory reporting laws to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.

Duties & Tasks of a Teacher - Special Education

Special education teachers:

  • assess the abilities and potential of students requiring a specific study program using a variety of tests and other forms of assessment
  • plan special courses of study to meet the needs of students
  • teach academic subjects and practical self-help skills using various methods and aids to assist in the education and rehabilitation process
  • develop and adapt the curriculum to make it relevant for students with disability
  • observe students to evaluate and record their progress and to detect signs of developmental disorders, ill health or emotional disturbance
  • work closely with other professionals, including guidance officers, speech therapists and psychologists
  • promote health and safety concepts and social interaction with other students
  • assist students with toileting, feeding and other personal matters (this may require lifting the students)
  • discuss aspects of students' development with parents and other educators
  • discuss the aims of the education program as a whole with parents
  • participate in community activities and on school committees.

Working conditions for a Teacher - Special Education

Special education teachers may work in schools for children with special needs or in mainstream classrooms, either with groups of students or on an individual basis. In mainstream schools, special education teachers are involved in the planning and implementation of programmes to enable students with disabilities to function successfully in a regular classroom setting.

Employment Opportunities for a Teacher - Special Education

Special education teachers are employed by government and non-government schools, as well as some special centres. Some teachers with special education qualifications are able to work in private practice, offering tutorial services for children with learning problems. Demand for special education teachers is dependent on levels of government funding.

Avg. weekly wage:


Future growth:


Employment by state:

NSW 54.1%

NT 0%

QLD 11.9%

SA 6.7%

TAS 1.5%

VIC 16%

WA 10.8%

ACT 2%

Hours worked:



Lower unemployment

Gender split:

Male 11%

Female 89%

Education level:

Highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 4.8%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 30.3%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 64.9%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0.1%

20-24 - 6.1%

25-34 - 26.8%

35-44 - 22.6%

45-54 - 19.5%

55-59 - 8.2%

60-64 - 7.1%

65 and Over - 9.5%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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