A special education teacher helps a student with homework

Pros and Cons of Being a Special Education Teacher

It’s a fair assessment that special education teachers have one of the most difficult jobs out there, but if you ask most of them about how they feel about their job, many would tell you that they couldn’t imagine themselves doing anything else. Is this because teaching special education is a rewarding career, or because it attracts people with a certain skillset equipped to deal with the challenges of the job? Either way, it’s a necessary career with its own ups and downs.

Pro: The students make it worthwhile.

If anyone needs a good teacher, it’s special education students. These students require extra attention in order to grasp skills that might come naturally to some of their peers. When you’re able to help them accomplish these tasks, you will feel a sense of accomplishment that is unmatched in other careers.

Con: There’s a lack of parental understanding.

Parents of special education students often don’t know how to deal with their children. This means that they will expect you to be able to work miracles, without always being understanding of your methods when you can’t pull it off. Parents will argue with you about what is right for their children, even as you learn their developmental needs.

Pro: Doing so qualifies you for other jobs in education.

Certification in special education is a nice supplement that opens many doors for career opportunities. You are much more likely to be hired, even if you aren’t signed on for a special education position. So, if you find that you want to try your hand at a different aspect of the education system, that is a possibility for you.

Con: Special education teachers don’t always get the appreciation they should.

For some reason, special education teachers don’t hold much respect in the eyes of the public. You will have to validate your work to people in a way that wouldn’t be the case if you taught physics or literature. Because of this, special education teachers have an unusually high turnover rate.

Pro: There’s great job availability.

Many people don’t want to deal with the struggles that come along with teaching special education, so there are usually job openings in the field.  Having the skills to deal with emotional and developmental disabilities is a skill that is always appreciated in the world of education.

Con: You’ve probably never seen so much paperwork.

For each student, you will need to collect data and chart improvement. So, you will have to spend a large chunk of time filling out forms about your students in order to prepare for IEP meetings and checkups with the administration.

Pro: You’re making a difference in students’ lives.

There is a satisfaction that comes along with helping others. You will experience the joys of teaching on an elevated level, even if you have to deal with extra struggles. Special education teachers learn patience and appreciation as they help their students grow.

Con: You need more training than your general education colleagues.

During the summer and throughout the year, you will be required to attend professional development workshops. These are meant to improve your ability as a teacher and ensure the safety of the students, but they can be very time-consuming.

Pro: Special education teachers sometimes have shorter days.

Because they have to spend more time with training and paperwork, many special education teachers end their days before others in the building. This may be better for parents who need to pick up children from other schools.

Con: You never know what to expect.

Every student’s needs are different and you have to always be on your toes. What may work for one of your students may set off negative behavior in another. You have to learn to adapt to constantly changing atmosphere, as your role shifts from day to day.

Last Updated: October 20, 2015