Detailed Guide forSpecial Education Teachers, Middle School in San Diego County
May also be called: Resource Program Teachers; Severe Emotional Disorders Teachers; Teachers of Developmentally Delayed; Teachers of Emotionally Disturbed;Teachers of Hearing Impaired Students; Teachers of Students with Learning and Behavior Disabilities; Teachers of Visually Impaired
What Would I Do?
Middle school Special Education Teachers give specially-designed instruction to 6th, 7th, and 8th grade children who have one or more disabilities.
They work to ensure that students with disabilities reach their learning potential. The majority of these Teachers work with children with mild-to-moderate disabilities using a modified curriculum to meet each child's individual needs. A small number work with students with mental retardation or autism, teaching them life skills and basic literacy.
Class sizes for special education students tend to be small, typically fewer than 12 students. Special Education Teachers are assisted by one or more teacher aides, depending on the school district and the students' degree of disabilities.
In California, this teaching field has five areas of specialty:
Mild/Moderate Disabilities (M/M) includes teaching students who have specific learning disabilities, mild-to-moderate mental retardation, attention deficit and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, and serious emotional disturbance.
Moderate/Severe Disabilities (M/S) includes teaching those with autism, deaf-blindness, moderate-to-severe mental retardation, multiple disabilities, serious emotional disturbance, and authorizes teaching grades K–12.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) includes teaching those with deafness, hearing impairment, and deaf-blindness.
Visual Impairments (VI) includes teaching students with blindness, visual impairment, and deaf-blindness.
Physical and Health Impairments (PHI) includes teaching students with orthopedic or other health impairments, multiple disabilities, and traumatic brain injury.
Depending on the disability, teaching methods can include individualized instruction, problem-solving assignments, and small-group work. When students need special accommodations, Special Education Teachers see that appropriate ones are provided, such as having exam questions read orally, or lengthening the time allowed to complete a test. They teach multiple subjects, including language arts, history, science, and mathematics. They also coordinate the inclusion of students into regular education classes and communicate regularly with teachers about each student's progress in those classes.
Special Education Teachers help to develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for each special education student. The IEP sets personalized goals for each student and is tailored to the student's individual needs and ability.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Prepare objectives and outlines for courses of study, following curriculum guidelines or requirements of states and schools.||Instructing|
|Meet with parents and guardians to discuss their children's progress, and to determine their priorities for their children and their resource needs.||Active Listening|
|Administer standardized ability and achievement tests, and interpret results to determine students' strengths and areas of need.||Oral Expression|
|Supervise, evaluate, and plan assignments for teacher assistants and volunteers.||Time Management|
|Attend professional meetings, educational conferences, and teacher training workshops in order to maintain and improve professional competence.||Education and Training|
|Develop and implement strategies to meet the needs of students with a variety of handicapping conditions.||Learning Strategies|
|Teach socially acceptable behavior, employing techniques such as behavior modification and positive reinforcement.||Persuasion|
|Guide and counsel students with adjustment and/or academic problems, or special academic interests.||Psychology|
|Organize and supervise games and other recreational activities to promote physical, mental, and social development.||Speech Recognition|
|Teach students personal development skills such as goal setting, independence, and self-advocacy.||Problem Sensitivity|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Instructing||Teaching others how to do something.|
|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.|
|Oral Expression||The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.|
|Time Management||Managing one's own time and the time of others.|
|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.|
|Learning Strategies||Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.|
|Persuasion||Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.|
|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.|
|Speech Recognition||The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.|
|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 there is a problem.|
Special Education Teachers typically work in modern, comfortable classrooms or resource rooms in middle schools, with a few working in special schools, homes, hospitals, and correctional facilities.
Their work, which can be highly rewarding, can also be emotionally and physically draining due to the heavy workload of teaching students at many levels. Behavioral issues and administrative tasks, such as the paperwork and documentation needed on each student's progress, can also be stressful at times. Most Teachers work 40 hours per week in a traditional 10-month school year, with some opting to teach year-round.
Teachers who work in public school districts usually belong to a union, such as the California Teachers Association.
Will This Job Fit Me?
Special Education Teachers have an opportunity to make a positive, lasting effect on the lives of children with special needs. This occupation will appeal to those who are social and who enjoy helping or providing service to others. Those who like to motivate others and who readily accept the differences in others might like this type of work.
Special Education Teachers must be patient, able to motivate students, understanding of their students' special needs, and accepting of differences in others. Teachers must be creative and apply different types of teaching methods to reach students who are having difficulty learning. Communication and cooperation are essential skills, because Special Education Teachers spend a great deal of time interacting with others, including students, parents, and school faculty and administrators.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
Special Education Teachers often earn extra pay for having advanced degrees, for completing specialized training in areas such as restraints, or for being multilingual.
The median wage in 2015 for Special Education Teachers, Middle School in California was $66,253 annually. The median wage for Special Education Teachers, Middle School in San Diego County was $62,673 annually. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
|Annual Wages for 2015||Low|
|San Diego County||$52,148||$62,673||$75,439|
|View Wages for All Areas|
|Hourly Wages for 2015||Low|
|View Wages for All Areas|
Special Education Teachers who work in public and private schools generally receive full benefit packages that include medical, dental, and vision insurance, as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans.
What is the Job Outlook?
The job of Middle School Special Education Teacher ranks among the fastest growing occupations in California. New positions for these workers will be created by continued increases in the number of special education students needing services. Legislation emphasizing training and employment for individuals with disabilities, and educational reforms requiring higher standards for graduation, will also fuel the demand for new workers.
Many school districts report difficulty finding sufficient numbers of qualified Teachers. As a result, Special Education Teachers should have excellent job prospects.
Job opportunities may be better in certain specialties, such as Teachers who work with children with multiple disabilities or severe disabilities like autism, because of large increases in the enrollment of special education students classified under those categories. In addition to job openings resulting from growth, a large number of openings will result from the need to replace Special Education Teachers who switch to teaching general education, change careers altogether, or retire.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Special Education Teachers, Middle School is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Special Education Teachers, Middle School are expected to increase by 5.7 percent, or 300 jobs between 2012 and 2022.
In San Diego County, the number of Special Education Teachers, Middle School is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Special Education Teachers, Middle School are expected to increase by 6.5 percent, or 20 jobs between 2012 and 2022.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
Special Education Teachers, Middle School
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|San Diego County|
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 30 new job openings per year is expected for Special Education Teachers, Middle School, plus an additional 90 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 120 job openings.
In San Diego County, an average of 2 new job openings per year is expected for Special Education Teachers, Middle School, plus an additional 5 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 7 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
Special Education Teachers, Middle School
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|San Diego County|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
The State of California requires Special Education Teachers to obtain credentials through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. To teach special education in California, you must have the Education Specialist Instruction Credential. It authorizes the holder to teach in the area of specialization listed on the credential. The following is required to earn the Preliminary (Level 1) Credential:
- Obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university.
- Complete an accredited Education Specialist Credential training program in an education specialist category, including student teaching
- Demonstrate subject matter competence by taking and passing the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET)
- Meet the Basic Skills Requirement by passing an exam
- Pass the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) exam
- Complete a U.S. Constitution course
- Complete developing English language skills courses
- Receive an offer of employment from a California school
All Special Education Teachers are required to obtain an electronic fingerprint (LiveScan) and criminal background clearance prior to their employment.
The Preliminary Credential is valid for five years. In order to earn the Professional (Level II) Credential, applicants must complete a Commission-approved Professional Teacher Induction plan, complete courses in health and computer education, and obtain National Board certification after their California Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential is issued.
The Education Specialist Instruction Credential authorizes Teachers to instruct students in one of five areas of specialization: Mild/Moderate Disabilities (M/M), Moderate/Severe Disabilities (M/S), Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH), Visual Impairments (VI), and Physical and Health Impairments (PHI).
Education Specialist training programs generally take between 18 and 24 months beyond the bachelor's degree. Most candidates take a year of graduate courses at an accredited Teacher training institution, usually with practice teaching. An alternative path is a one- or two-year university internship in which the candidate teaches while still taking classes. Some school districts establish their own internships that include a two-year professional development plan for the Teacher.
Teachers are required to have student teaching experience prior to employment. Many new Teachers start as substitute Teachers to gain classroom experience and district recognition.
Early Career Planning
High school students who are interested in a teaching career in special education should take the necessary courses required for admission into college. In addition, students can gain valuable experience by tutoring or mentoring students with special needs. This should help them decide whether teaching students with special needs is a good career choice. In addition, Troops to Teachers is a Department of Defense program that provides tuition reimbursement, career counseling, and monetary bonuses for current and prior members of the Armed Services who agree to teach in economically disadvantaged urban and rural schools.
Continuing Education requirements vary by school district. However, all Teachers need to regularly update their knowledge and skills in order to learn new material and tools. Many also learn new subject matter to add to their Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.
Licensing and Certification
Credential exam information, such as fees, locations, and frequency, are found at the link below. Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information. Click on the license title below for details.
Most Teachers are also required to hold current certificates in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and Automated External Defibrillator (AED). For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
Middle School Special Education Teachers almost always work in middle schools, either in traditional classrooms or resource rooms. A few work for individual and social assistance agencies, residential facilities, or in homebound or hospital environments. The largest industries employing Special Education Teachers, Middle School are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|Elementary and Secondary Schools ||99.6%|
Finding a Job
Special Education Teachers find job leads through their college training programs or career centers. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. School districts list job openings on their Web sites as well. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Special Education Teachers, Middle School.
- Elementary Schools
- Elementary and Secondary Education
- Private Schools (K-12)
- Public Schools
- Religious General Interest Schools
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
Special Education Teachers can advance to become school administrators. They may also earn advanced degrees and become instructors in colleges that prepare others to teach special education. In some school districts, highly-experienced Teachers become mentors to less experienced ones, providing guidance while maintaining a lighter teaching load.
Below is a list of occupations related to Special Education Teachers, Middle School with links to more information.
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||Profile|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||Profile|
|Special Education Teachers, Preschool, Kindergarten, and Elementary School*||Guide|
|Special Education Teachers, Secondary School||Guide|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.