what is a special educational needs teacher?

As a teacher specialising in special educational needs (SEN), you work with children who require additional support in their learning. This includes children with physical disabilities, emotional, learning, behavioural, and communication difficulties, dyspraxia, autistic spectrum disorder, sensory impairments, and mental health issues.

Your role involves providing the same education as other teachers, but with individualised learning activities that cater to the unique needs of each child. This requires patience, enthusiasm, and creativity to develop teaching methods that engage the children.

As an SEN teacher, you teach either one-on-one or in small groups, providing personalised attention to each student through further learning exercises and private sessions. You customise standard teaching methods and introduce specialist equipment and learning tools, such as braille for visually impaired children, sign language for deaf students, and computers for children with dyslexia. You may also work with speech therapists and healthcare assistants to improve children's learning outcomes, who advise on learning strategies to help the children achieve better results.

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average special educational needs teacher salary

If you are a special educational needs teacher, your yearly salary is $93,000. However, even with minimal experience and qualifications, you can still earn $90,000 annually. As you gain more experience, your yearly income is likely to increase to over $95,000.

how to increase your salary as a special needs education teacher

The earnings of a special needs education teacher depend on qualifications and the complexity of the tasks performed. As an SEN teacher, you work with children with various impairments, disabilities and special needs. When you specialise in teaching pupils with visual and hearing impairment, your earnings differ from an SEN teacher helping students with learning disabilities.

The school you work for also influences your earnings. For instance, special educational needs teachers working in public schools are likely to earn less than teachers in private schools. That's because private schools determine their salary structure.

The hours you work also influence your earnings. When you provide remedial lessons to pupils with special needs, you earn less than SEN teachers who work full-time. Working in a community setup or supporting special needs students in mining and special groups also influences your earnings.

Want to know what you will earn as a special educational needs teacher? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.


types of special educational needs teachers

An SEN teacher can specialise in teaching children with various disabilities. Some of the types of special educational needs teachers include:

  • autism special educational needs teachers: your job is to assist children with a specific developmental disability. Autistic spectrum disorder usually affects social interaction and verbal or nonverbal communication. You develop learning activities that help children interact with others and increase their resilience to environmental changes.
  • learning disability special educational needs teachers: children with learning disabilities usually have difficulty understanding or using written and spoken language. Your job is to help them speak, write and do simple calculations.
  • visual impairment special educational needs teachers: you help special educational needs children with partial or total blindness to learn. You teach them to use specialised techniques like braille for learning activities.
Woman smiling at children
Woman smiling at children

working as a special educational needs teacher

Working as a special educational needs teacher involves teaching academic and living skills to students in primary and secondary schools. Let’s explore the duties, tasks and work environments of special educational needs teachers.


education and skills

Gain the following academic qualifications to become a special educational needs teacher:

  • education: you require a minimum of an undergraduate degree. Pursue a bachelor’s degree in special education after completing Year 12 and receiving a satisfactory ATAR. The course takes four years to finish full-time studies in special needs.
  • experience: as a special educational needs teacher, you require extensive experience working with kids. Gain experience through internships and ensure you have the required children’s check and police check to work as a teacher.

special educational needs teacher skills and competencies

Some of the skills of a special educational needs teacher include:

  • creativity: this is crucial in special educational needs (SEN) teaching, as it requires providing diverse approaches to accommodate the unique needs of each learner. Unlike traditional teaching methods, SEN teaching recognizes that no two children are alike. Therefore, it's important to tap into your creative abilities when planning lessons to ensure optimal understanding and engagement among students.
  • adaptability: versatility and flexibility help you develop an inclusive approach to learning. For SEN educators, lessons are unpredictable, and you require adaptability to change the lesson plans to suit the learning outcomes of a class.
  • teamwork skills: as special educational needs teachers, you work closely with teaching assistants and therapists. Teamwork skills help you collaborate and support pupils in your class. Demonstrating good teamwork skills is also great role-modelling for pupils in your class.

FAQs about working as a special educational needs teacher

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a special educational needs teacher.

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