California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Special Education Teachers, Preschool, Kindergarten, and Elementary School* in California

May also be called: Mildly Disabled Student Special Education Teachers; Preschool Special Education Teachers; Resource Program Teachers; Severe Emotional Disorders Teachers; Teachers of Developmentally Delayed; Teachers of Emotionally Disturbed; Teachers of Students with Learning and Behavior Disabilities

What Would I Do?

Special Education Teachers work in elementary schools and preschools, giving specially-designed instruction to children who have a variety of 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.

Special Education Teachers typically work in a modern, comfortable classroom or school setting. 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. Most Teachers work 40 hours per week in a traditional 10-month school year, with some opting to teach year-round.

Will This Job Fit Me?

Special Education Teachers can have a positive, lasting effect on the lives of children with special needs. This occupation will appeal to people who are social and who enjoy helping or providing service to others. Those who like to motivate children and who readily accept the differences in others might like this type of work.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Special Education Teachers sometimes earn extra pay for having advanced degrees or for completing programs in specialized areas such as restraint training.

The median wage in 2017 for Special Education Teachers, Preschool, Kindergarten, and Elementary School* in California was $0 annually. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Annual Wages for 2017Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2017 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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?

Job prospects should be good for Special Education Teachers in California preschools and elementary schools. New positions for these workers will be created by continued increases in the number of special education students needing services. Additionally, many job opportunities will arise as Teachers retire or leave for other types of work.

How Do I Qualify?

The State of California requires Special Education Teachers to obtain a Preliminary Credential, as well as one or more Education Specialist credentials. In order to do this, Special Education Teachers must earn a bachelor's degree, complete a teacher preparation program with a number of subject and education credits, and instruct students while under the supervision of a licensed Teacher.

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 and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Special Education Teachers, Preschool, Kindergarten, and Elementary School*