Education & Training

Special Needs Teacher

Special needs teachers work with students who require additional support to reach their full educational potential.

  • Entry-level education

    Bachelor’s degree

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does a Special Needs Teacher do?

Special needs teachers work with students who require additional support to reach their full educational potential, due to learning difficulties, physical disabilities, behavioural problems or emotional difficulties.


Work activities

As a special educational needs teacher, you would:

  • assess student needs, abilities, and limitations
  • focus on the individual capabilities, interests and learning styles of each student
  • work with fellow teachers and parents to best schedule lessons and other activities for special needs students
  • create an individual plan for each student, relevant to curriculum guidelines, as part of an overall skill set and goal
  • create lesson plans for students who are both delayed and advanced in areas of academia and development
  • maintain records, assessments, grades, and goals for each student
  • teach socialisation and self-help skills to students
  • help students develop their independence and confidence
  • work closely with other professionals, such as social workers, medical professional or therapists and educational psychologists
  • undertake required continuing professional development (CPD).

Key skills and interests

To become a special needs teacher, you would need:

  • ability in, and passion for what you teach
  • excellent communication skills
  • good numerical, grammatical and spelling skills
  • the ability to develop good working relationships with children, parents, and carers
  • patience and flexibility
  • able to designing learning for a variety of subjects, ability levels, and students
  • good organisational and time management skills
  • the ability to deal with different behaviours and disabilities in children
  • the ability to work with specialised equipment for special needs students (wheelchairs, lifts, standing tables, touch screens, hearing aids, etc).

Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

In a full-time role, you would normally work standard school hours during the week. Almost half of all special needs education teachers work part-time.


A Special Education Teacher is often an additional teacher in a classroom. However, special education teachers can also work in separate classrooms with different levels, ages, and grades of students.


How to become an Special Needs Teacher?

Entry Level Education

To become a special education teacher you need to complete a degree in education, specialising in special education. If you already have a teaching qualification, you can complete a graduate certificate in special needs education. Teachers who want to undertake further study can also gain a master's degree in special needs and intervention education.

Minimum standards apply in some States for senior secondary school results, including in English, for applicants wanting to undertake an accredited undergraduate teaching degree.

On successful completion of your degree, you would also need to be accredited by the board of studies in your State.


Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment of special education teachers is projected to grow about the same as the average for all occupations.

Jobs for special education teachers are generally funded by State government education departments. Some positions are funded by private schools. The number of available roles will always depend on available funding.


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