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.
Sample of reported job titles: Career and Transition Teacher, High School Special Education Teacher, Interrelated Special Education Teacher, Learning Disabilities Special Education Teacher (LD Special Education Teacher), Learning Support Teacher, Resource Teacher, Special Day Class Teacher (SDC Teacher), Special Education Resource Teacher, Special Education Teacher, Teacher
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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- Cloud-based data access and sharing software — Microsoft SharePoint
- Computer based training software — Text to speech software
- Data base user interface and query software — Microsoft Access
- Desktop publishing software — Adobe Systems Adobe InDesign
- Device drivers or system software — Screen magnification software; Screen reader software
- Document management software — Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
- Electronic mail software — Email software; Microsoft Outlook
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Adobe Systems Adobe Illustrator ; Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spell checkers — Hand held spell checkers
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Video creation and editing software — Video editing software
- Voice recognition software — Voice activated software
- Web page creation and editing software — Facebook
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
- Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
- Administrative — Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
- Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
- Therapy and Counseling — Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
- Geography — Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
- Sociology and Anthropology — Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.
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- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
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- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
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- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Develop strategies or programs for students with special needs.
- Evaluate student work.
- Monitor student performance.
- Monitor student behavior, social development, or health.
- Teach life skills.
- Establish rules or policies governing student behavior.
- Discuss problems or issues with supervisors.
- Apply multiple teaching methods.
- Maintain student records.
- Prepare reports detailing student activities or performance.
- Discuss student progress with parents or guardians.
- Modify teaching methods or materials to accommodate student needs.
- Set up classroom materials or equipment.
- Collaborate with other teaching professionals to develop educational programs.
- Develop instructional objectives.
- Plan educational activities.
- Administer tests to assess educational needs or progress.
- Advise students on academic or career matters.
- Direct activities of subordinates.
- Encourage students.
- Prepare tests.
- Document lesson plans.
- Teach vocational courses.
- Teach others to use technology or equipment.
- Create technology-based learning materials.
- Assist students with special educational needs.
- Attend training sessions or professional meetings to develop or maintain professional knowledge.
- Plan experiential learning activities.
- Tutor students who need extra assistance.
- Serve on institutional or departmental committees.
- Supervise school or student activities.
- Coordinate student extracurricular activities.
- Distribute instructional or library materials.
- Maintain inventories of materials, equipment, or products.
- Order instructional or library materials or equipment.
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- Electronic Mail — 98% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 91% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 86% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 90% responded “Extremely important.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 88% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 61% responded “Some freedom.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 74% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 49% responded “Extremely important.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 48% responded “Some freedom.”
- Telephone — 54% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Time Pressure — 44% responded “Every day.”
- Frequency of Conflict Situations — 36% responded “Every day.”
- Physical Proximity — 68% responded “Moderately close (at arm’s length).”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 51% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 38% responded “Very important.”
- Deal With External Customers — 40% responded “Extremely important.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 36% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Letters and Memos — 31% responded “Every day.”
- Public Speaking — 46% responded “Every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 38% responded “Important results.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 23% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Spend Time Standing — 51% responded “About half the time.”
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 31% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 29% responded “Never.”
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|Title||Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor’s degree, but some do not.|
|Related Experience||A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.|
|Job Zone Examples||Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include real estate brokers, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
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Interest code: SI Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
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- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
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- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$62,320 annual|
|Employment (2020)||140,900 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Average (5% to 10%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||11,700|
|Top industries (2020)||
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
- Association for Career and Technical Education
- Council for Exceptional Children
- Council for Learning Disabilities
- Council of Administrators of Special Education
- Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education
- National Association of Special Education Teachers
- National Education Association
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Special education teachers
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