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How to become a special education teacher in Australia: careers in teaching

How to become a special education teacher in Australia: careers in teaching
Special education teachers have a role ensuring all children and young people have equal access to education. They develop and deliver classes for students who have learning difficulties or physical, emotional, sensory or intellectual impairments. Special education teachers can work in preschools, primary schools or secondary settings. To become a special education teacher, relevant tertiary qualifications are required. At a minimum this is a Bachelor of Education degree with a major in special education. Qualified teachers may gain postgraduate qualifications in special education to specialise in this field.

Being a special education teacher: daily duties

Special education teachers develop and deliver classes for students with special needs. They assess and evaluate student needs and report on developmental outcomes. The may sometimes need to give physical assistance to students and provide advocacy for both special needs services and students in the wider school setting.


  • Adapt curriculum to needs of students
  • Teach basic health, hygiene and safety
  • Promote a safe and calm environment
  • Assist students with physical needs
  • Advocate for special needs services and students

Being a special education teacher: skills for success

Because of the nature of this role, it is essential for special education teachers to possess empathy and patience. They must be able to be adaptive so they can tailor lessons to address students’ individual needs. They also need to be able to respond quickly to classroom situations and evaluate the moods of students throughout the day. Special education teachers need to be good at motivating others as sometimes students will be reluctant to learn.
  • Highly motivated
  • Able to motivate others
  • Good organisation and observation skills
  • Sensitivity when dealing with students and families
  • Ability to communicate simply and clearly

Specialised roles within teaching

Special education teachers can focus on specific specialisations as they progress their careers, or they might want to pursue senior positions in education.
  • Adult literacy and numeracy teacher
    An adult literacy and numeracy teacher improves adult literacy and numeracy through training in reading, writing and mathematics. These roles can be found in a number of setting, including private practice, community education and government agencies.
  • Gifted and talented program teaching
    Students who are gifted and talented can have different learning needs to their peers. Additional lesson plans allow these students to develop their abilities and interests in particular subjects. Teachers operating gifted and talented programs tailor the curriculum to meet these students’ needs.
  • English as a second or other language (ESOL) teacher
    Many special education teachers find themselves moving into roles teaching English to speakers of other languages. They are often a great fit for these roles because of the adaptability and experience in creative teaching methods they have developed as special education teachers.

Educational pathways for special education teachers

To become a special education teacher, you’ll generally need a Bachelor of Education with a specialisation in special education, or will need to pursue postgraduate study in special education.
  • Start your career
    Find courses that will put you on the path to becoming a special education teacher.
  • Strengthen your skills
    Work towards your career goals in teaching via specialised training outcomes.
  • Build your resume
    Find high level courses to expand your professional skills and pursue new opportunities.
  • Industry requirements
    To work as a teacher in Australia, you will need to join your state’s register of qualified teachers. Find out more in our Resources section.
  • Finding Work
    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your teaching career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.
  • Employment Prospects
    There is growing demand for special education teachers in Australia, and people in this career can expect to be paid above the average teaching salary level.

Resources for Special education teachers

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