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Career Readiness

Special Education Teachers

What Special Education Teachers Do

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, to students with mild and moderate disabilities. They also teach basic skills, such as literacy and communication techniques, to students with severe disabilities.

Work Environment

Most special education teachers work in public schools, teaching students from preschool to high school. Others work in private schools, childcare services, and other institutions. Many work the traditional 10-month school year, but some work year round.

How to Become a Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers in public schools are required to have a bachelor’s degree and a state-issued certification or license. Teachers in private schools typically need a bachelor’s degree, but may not be required to have a state license or certification.


The median annual wage for special education teachers was $58,980 in May 2017.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of special education teachers is projected to grow 8 percent by 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. School enrollment and the demand for special education services should drive employment growth.