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Career Profile: Special Education Teachers, Secondary School

Teach academic, social, and life skills to secondary school students with learning, emotional, or physical disabilities. Includes teachers who specialize and work with students who are blind or have visual impairments; students who are deaf or have hearing impairments; and students with intellectual disabilities.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 147,200 people employed as special education teachers, secondary school in the United States. The median annual salary is $62,120. Entry level employees earn approximately $47,230 per year and senior employees earn approximately $100,310 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Teach personal development skills, such as goal setting, independence, and self-advocacy.
  • Confer with parents or guardians, other teachers, counselors, and administrators to resolve students' behavioral and academic problems.
  • Confer with parents, administrators, testing specialists, social workers, and professionals to develop individual educational plans designed to promote students' educational, physical, and social development.
  • Plan and conduct activities for a balanced program of instruction, demonstration, and work time that provides students with opportunities to observe, question, and investigate.
  • Establish clear objectives for all lessons, units, and projects and communicate those objectives to students.
  • Monitor teachers and teacher assistants to ensure that they adhere to inclusive special education program requirements.
  • Provide interpretation and transcription of regular classroom materials through Braille and sign language.
  • Visit schools to tutor students with sensory impairments and to consult with teachers regarding students' special needs.
  • Prepare students for later grades by encouraging them to explore learning opportunities and to persevere with challenging tasks.
  • Guide and counsel students with adjustment or academic problems, or special academic interests.
  • Prepare, administer, and grade tests and assignments to evaluate students' progress.
  • Administer standardized ability and achievement tests and interpret results to determine students' strengths and areas of need.
  • Instruct students in daily living skills required for independent maintenance and self-sufficiency, such as hygiene, safety, and food preparation.
  • Confer with other staff members to plan and schedule lessons promoting learning, following approved curricula.
  • Prepare for assigned classes and show written evidence of preparation upon request of immediate supervisors.
  • Prepare objectives and outlines for courses of study, following curriculum guidelines or requirements of states and schools.
  • Provide additional instruction in vocational areas.
  • Attend professional meetings, educational conferences, and teacher training workshops to maintain and improve professional competence.
  • Plan and supervise class projects, field trips, visits by guest speakers, or other experiential activities, and guide students in learning from those activities.
  • Attend staff meetings and serve on committees, as required.
  • Perform administrative duties, such as assisting in school libraries, hall and cafeteria monitoring, and bus loading and unloading.
  • Sponsor extracurricular activities, such as clubs, student organizations, and academic contests.
  • Select, store, order, issue, and inventory classroom equipment, materials, and supplies.
  • Instruct and monitor students in the use and care of equipment and materials to prevent injuries and damage.
  • Use computers, audio-visual aids, and other equipment and materials to supplement presentations.
  • Collaborate with other teachers and administrators in the development, evaluation, and revision of secondary school programs.
  • Provide assistive devices, supportive technology, and assistance accessing facilities, such as restrooms.
  • Meet with parents and guardians to provide guidance in using community resources and to teach skills for dealing with students' impairments.
  • Develop and implement strategies to meet the needs of students with a variety of handicapping conditions.
  • Observe and evaluate students' performance, behavior, social development, and physical health.
  • Establish and enforce rules for behavior and policies and procedures to maintain order among students.
  • Teach socially acceptable behavior, employing techniques such as behavior modification and positive reinforcement.
  • Maintain accurate and complete student records, and prepare reports on children and activities, as required by laws, district policies, and administrative regulations.
  • Instruct through lectures, discussions, and demonstrations in one or more subjects, such as English, mathematics, or social studies.
  • Employ special educational strategies and techniques during instruction to improve the development of sensory- and perceptual-motor skills, language, cognition, and memory.
  • Meet with other professionals to discuss individual students' needs and progress.
  • Meet with parents and guardians to discuss their children's progress and to determine priorities for their children and their resource needs.
  • Modify the general education curriculum for special-needs students, based upon a variety of instructional techniques and technologies.
  • Prepare materials and classrooms for class activities.
  • Coordinate placement of students with special needs into mainstream classes.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
147,200
Annual Openings:
11,600
Increase in Openings by 2031:
4%
Annual Salary Range:
$47,230 - $100,310
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's degree