What Is a Special Education Teacher? (Skills and Salary)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 26 January 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A special education teacher helps children with special needs learn the same information and skills as other children in a school learn. Although the work can be challenging at times, it can also be satisfying to help children reach their full potential and see them prosper. If you love teaching and having a positive impact on children's lives, you may want to consider this career option. In this article, we answer, "What is a special education teacher?", explain the steps for how to become one and answer some frequently asked questions about this profession.

What Is A Special Education Teacher?

A special education teacher is a teacher who works with children of all ages who have special needs, whether these are cognitive, emotional or physical. These professionals may work in classrooms or resource centres that include only special needs students, or they may work in inclusive classrooms where they assist general teachers in providing special needs kids with the individualised attention and unique approaches they need to develop to their full potential.

These teachers often develop Individualised Education Programs (IEPs) to set goals and track each student's progress. Furthermore, special educators coordinate with other teachers and counsellors to prepare lessons and write reports. They also regularly communicate with the parents of students about their child's progress.

How To Become A Special Education Teacher

Here are a few steps that you can take if you want to become a special education teacher:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree

The first step is to earn a bachelor's degree in special education. Alternatively, you can also pursue a two-year Bachelor in Education (B.Ed.) course in special education after completing a bachelor's degree in any discipline. A U.G. degree with two teaching subjects with a minimum 50% aggregate or a Bachelor in Education with a minimum of 50% is required to become a special education teacher.

2. Join an internship

During the course of an internship program, you get hands-on training on how to work with children with special needs. Pursuing an internship also helps you familiarise yourself with your teaching responsibilities and procedures and the school's policies. You get the opportunity to participate in teaching activities, prepare materials and resources for students.

3. Specialise in a specific area

Candidates can specialise in a specific area of special needs teaching by obtaining a master's degree in special education. A master's degree in special education allows you to receive advanced training on how to develop curriculum, design and implement teaching programs and devise the right teaching method for students. Candidates can pursue a Master in Special education for two years after their B.Ed. in special education or pursue a postgraduate diploma programme in special education.

Skills Of A Special Educator

A special education teacher may use the following skills to perform their job well:

  • Time management: These professionals often use their time-management skills to perform multiple tasks on a given day. This includes assisting children, evaluating their progress and making reports.

  • Positive and energetic approach: As children with special needs may take extra time to understand a concept, special educators need to use a positive approach towards students.

  • Critical thinking and social perceptiveness: Special educators need to determine effective methods to improve a child's learning experience.

  • Communication: Special education teachers need to have strong communication skills to instruct children with a variety of special needs and communication styles. These professionals also need this skill to communicate with other relevant parties, such as general teachers, parents, physical therapists, social workers and counsellors.

Read more: 10 Important Skills of a Teacher and How To Develop Them

Types Of Special Educators

Special educators are categorised based on their qualifications and experience. Here are some common types of special education teachers:

  • Special educators for emotional or behavioural disorders: Special education teachers with a specialisation in emotional or behavioural disorders provide learning assistance to students suffering from hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, attention deficit, depression or any other behavioural disorders.

  • Special educators for autism spectrum disorder: Students suffering from autism are usually unable to correlate circumstances and may have communication delays. Special education teachers with a specialisation in autism spectrum disorder provide learning support to those students.

  • Special education teachers in college: Special education professionals with a Masters in Special Education provide learning assistance to students with special needs in colleges.

Related careers

Here are some examples of careers that are related to the role of a special educator:

  • Occupational therapists: They help children with disabilities to regain physical mobility and function properly.

  • Childcare workers: They teach basic concepts and skills to babies and toddlers.

  • Recreational therapists: They assist people suffering from behavioural or physical disorders to reduce anxiety and depression.

Duties Of A Special Educator

The job of a special educator is somewhat similar to a general teacher in schools. They provide learning assistance to students with mental, emotional, or physical disorders by evaluating each student's progress and making reports for each of them. A special educator often uses effective teaching techniques so that the learning experiences of students can be improved. Their primary duties include:

  • meeting with parents to discuss the progress of their children

  • modifying the general education curriculum to address the needs of specific students

  • providing the required instruction to individual students

  • diagnosing children with special needs as early as possible through tests and scrutinising their workbooks and behaviour

  • advising general teachers and parents on techniques to assist students in the learning process

Read more: How To Become a Teacher: Steps and Additional Tips

Special Education Courses

Special education courses are designed to train teachers so that they can provide special assistance, care, attention, and training to children with disabilities. These courses are different from the regular teacher training courses in many ways. Here are some examples of special education courses:

Integrated (Dual Degree) special education courses

Students who have passed the 12th standard are eligible to pursue this course. Integrated courses combine two academic programs, namely BA BEd Special Education and BSc BEd Special Education. These programs typically take four years to complete.

DEd special education courses

Diploma in Education (DEd) is a diploma course for students who have passed the 12th standard. Some of the popular Diploma in Education courses are DEd Special Education (Visual Impairment), DEd Special Education (Hearing Impairment), DEd Special Education (Mental Retardation) and DEd Special Education (Deaf-Blind). The course duration is two years.

BEd special education programs

Bachelor of Education course belongs to the postgraduate level. Students who have completed their bachelor's degree in any stream are eligible to apply for pursuing a BEd course in special education. This special education course is also two years long. Some examples of BEd Special Education courses include:

  • B.Ed. Special Education (Visual Impairment)

  • B.Ed. Special Education (Hearing Impairment)

  • B.Ed. Special Education (Mental Retardation)

  • B.Ed. Special Education (Deaf-Blind).

M.Ed. special education programs

Students who have completed relevant B.Ed. courses can apply for this master's degree. M.Ed. Special Education is a two-year long course. You can opt for a Master of Science (M.S.) degree, which is a good option for a career in research. Obtaining a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree, which is meant to further refine skills in classroom teaching, is also helpful.

The Average Salary Of Special Education Teachers

The average salary of special educators is ₹16,114 per month or ₹2,27,590 per year. Their salaries can vary based on their experience, location, certifications and other factors. Their job roles also decide the salary range. The increase in the position of a special educator comes with more pay.

Frequently Asked Questions About Special Educators

As a special educator, you are responsible for creating a safe, supportive, and stimulating learning environment for children with special needs. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about special educators:

Is a special ed teacher job a good career?

A special education teacher job can be a great career opportunity for someone who enjoys being with children. They have the opportunity to change the future by educating children with special needs. Special educators can also work with other professionals and improve their knowledge and skills.

Are there any institutes in India that offer special ed courses?

Yes, there are some reputed institutes in India that are known for special education courses. Some of these institutes are Jamia Millia Islamia, Himalayan University and MJP Rohilkhand University. If you aspire to become a special education teacher, these courses can help you with that.

What is the minimum qualification required to become a special educator in college?

Candidates with an M.Ed. in special education are eligible to teach students with special needs in the colleges. Pursuing a Master's degree in Special Education for two years after the B.Ed. in Special Education is the minimum qualification required to become a special education teacher. Candidates can opt for a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree, which is meant to further refine their skills in classroom teaching.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.


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