Starting a career as a special education teacher can be a challenging journey. However, you can find this career satisfying as you will help children reach their full potential and flourish because of your impact. A career as a special education teacher can be fulfilling if you enjoy teaching and making a difference in the lives of children. This is because you will provide education for children with disabilities.


A special education teacher teaches children with special needs. These needs can be cognitive, emotional or physical. Special education teachers help kids develop problem-solving and physical and social abilities. Additionally, they assist kids in acquiring personal and life skills. You can also begin your career as a special education teacher by pursuing a general teaching career. 


In the following sections, I will guide you through the steps required to start a career as a special education teacher.


Steps to Become a Special Education Teacher

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

    The first step in becoming a special education teacher is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. You can earn a bachelor of science in special education. This program will enable you to gain knowledge in areas such as education psychology and classroom management.  Additionally, you can gain a bachelor’s degree in education and pursue an additional program in special education. Furthermore, you need to have a strong foundation in subjects such as English, Mathematics and science.

  2. Gain Practical Experience

    After earning your bachelor’s degree, you should gain experience in teaching. You can gain experience through internships or volunteer programs. During this internship, you will gain hands-on experience in teaching children with special needs under supervision. This internship can be done as a student and even after you graduate.

  3. Obtain Additional Certificates

    You must acquire additional certificates in teaching or a diploma in special education. This will prove your expertise and competence before future employers.

  4. Get a License

    You may be required to get a license as a special education teacher. This is mostly required by public schools. However, it is better to be on the safe side and prepare for the license. To obtain a license, you will be required to fulfil some requirements such as having a bachelor’s degree and having the required hours of work experience.

  5. Develop Relevant Skills

    As a special education teacher, there are specific skills you need to have. You should have skills such as communication, patience, empathy and strong organizational skills. Additionally, you should be knowledgeable about various disabilities and learning disorders. You can further enhance these skills through professional development and workshops.

  6. Pursue a Master’s Degree

    You can consider pursuing a master’s degree in special education. This may not be a compulsory requirement. However, this can allow you to specialise in a specific area of special needs. Additionally, you will have the qualification to offer advanced training in curriculum development and implementation of teaching programs.


Skills Needed by Special Education Teachers

  1. Creativity
  2. Patience
  3. Positive Attitude
  4. Communication Skills
  5. Compassion


Types of Special Education Teachers

  1. Autism Spectrum Disorder Teachers: These educators are experts in assisting children on the autism spectrum. They employ evidence-based practices to assist pupils in developing skills such as communication, social and behavioural skills.
  2. Transition Specialists: They assist disabled students in making life plans after they graduate. They help with areas such as college alternatives, self-sufficient living and many more.
  3. Resource Teachers: Resource teachers work with children who have mild to moderate disabilities.
  4. Inclusion Teachers: Inclusion teachers support children with disabilities as necessary in both normal and special education settings. This kind of teacher frequently possesses exceptional abilities in behaviour management, differentiated instruction, and working with a variety of students.
  5. Emotional/Behavioural Disorder Teachers: These educators work with pupils who struggle to learn well in a conventional classroom due to emotional or behavioural issues.


Universities in Africa to study Special Education

  1. University of Nigeria, Nigeria
  2. University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
  3. University of Uyo, Nigeria
  4. North-West University, South Africa
  5. University of South Africa, South Africa
  6. University of Botswana, Botswana
  7. University of Cape Town, South Africa
  8. Bayero University Kano, Nigeria
  9. University of Pretoria, South Africa
  10. University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
  11. University of Jos, Nigeria
  12. Ebonyi State University, Nigeria
  13. University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  14. University of Benin, Nigeria
  15. University of Calabar, Nigeria
  16. University of Ibadan, Nigeria


In Conclusion, starting a career as a special education teacher can launch you into a rewarding career field. You can influence the lives of children positively while fostering your growth. With this career, you can work in places such as specialised centres, or government initiatives and even become a private tutor. Pursuing this career path can be fulfilling with the right education and experiences.


Good luck!

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