Employment of special education teachers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The employment growth of special education teachers will vary by type. (See table below.) However, overall demand will be driven by enrollment, the need for special education services, and the federal budget situation.
Although enrollment in special education programs has slightly decreased, better screening and identification of various disabilities in children are expected to affect the demand for special education services. Children with disabilities are being identified earlier and enrolled into special education programs.
Employment growth will also depend on government funding, since laws require free public education for students with disabilities. Every state must maintain the same level of financial support for special education every year.
Teaching students with disabilities can be quite stressful, emotionally demanding, and physically draining. As a result, many schools have difficulties recruiting and retaining special education teachers. Special education teachers are expected to have good job opportunities, which will stem from the need to replace teachers who leave the occupation each year.
Job opportunities also may be better in certain specialties, such as those requiring experience with early childhood intervention and skills in working with students who have multiple disabilities, severe disabilities, or autism spectrum disorders. Those with experience and knowledge of working with students with learning disabilities and speech or language impairments may have the best job prospects.
Special Education Teachers
Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24
Total, all occupations
Special education teachers
Preschool, primary, secondary, and special education school teachers
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program