Special education teachers develop and conduct learning programmes for preschool, primary and secondary students who have learning difficulties or other physical, sensory, emotional or intellectual abilities. Some also teach students who are intellectually gifted.

Where special education teachers are employed

An adult literacy and numeracy teacher specialises in teaching literacy and numeracy skills such as reading, writing and mathematics to adults with low literacy or other people with literacy or numeracy challenges.

Special education teachers may work in schools for children with special needs or in mainstream classrooms, either with groups of students or on an individual basis. In mainstream schools, special education teachers are involved in the planning and implementation of programmes to enable students with disabilities to function successfully in a regular classroom setting.

Special education teachers are employed by government and non-government schools, as well as some special centres. Some teachers with special education qualifications are able to work in private practice, offering tutorial services for children with learning difficulties.

Demand for special education teachers is dependent on levels of government funding.


Full-time special education teachers in South Australia generally earn more than $1,600 per week.

Graph of pay scales for Special education teachers

Job prospects

In 2011 there were 554 people employed full-time as special education teachers in South Australia, compared with 459 in 2006.

How to become one

To become a special education teacher you usually have to complete a degree in education, specialising in special education. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE). Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in education with a specialisation in special education.

For information on course admission requirements and how to apply to the universities and TAFE in South Australia, visit the South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC).

Check South Australian Universities at The University of Adelaide, Flinders University and University of South Australia.

For information about Australian universities, visit Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT).

Licensing and Registration requirements

In South Australia, all teachers must be registered with the Teachers Registration Board of South Australia (TRB). The TRB covers Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary Teachers.

Recognition of qualifications and skills obtained outside Australia

To gain work as a Teacher in South Australia you must submit your overseas gained qualifications to the Teachers Registration board for recognition to gain your registration.

If you come to South Australia as a migrant you may already have  a pre-migration assessment issued  by The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). You must submit this assessment with your qualifications to be approved by the Teachers Registration Board before registration can be issued.

For information about assessment of overseas qualifications, and looking for work in Australia visit Recognition of overseas qualifications or contact Skilled Arrival Services on 08 8303 2420 or email

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Career information has been sourced from government publications, see data sources for more information.

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