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Special Needs Teacher

Special needs teachers work primarily with children who require special instructional services to help them learn and develop to their potential.

  • Avg. Salary $77,661.00
  • Avg. Wage $44.68
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 43,900
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Educator, Instructor, School Teacher, Teacher, Teacher of Children with Visual Impairment, Teacher of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children, Teacher of Gifted Children, Teacher of Hospitalized, Homebound or Institutionalized Children

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Elementary School and Kindergarten Teachers (4142) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Elementary School and Kindergarten Teachers (E132) 
  • 2011 NOC: Elementary school and kindergarten teachers (4032) 
  • 2016 NOC: Elementary school and kindergarten teachers (4032) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
Interest Codes
The Special Needs Teacher is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Elementary School and Kindergarten Teachers

Interest in leading students in activities to promote their physical, mental and social development; in participating in staff meetings, educational conferences and teacher training workshops; and in preparing examinations


Interests in co-ordinating information to prepare courses for presentation to students according to curriculum, to identify children's individual learning needs and to prepare and implement remedial programs for students requiring extra help


Interest in instructing students using a systematic plan of lessons, discussions, audio-visual presentations and field trips; and in assigning and correcting homework and administering and correcting examinations; may supervise teachers' aides and student teachers

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated May 20, 2021

Special needs teachers spend most of their working day providing instruction and handling unexpected as well as routine situations. They work with children who have:

  • Physical or developmental disabilities
  • Hearing, visual, speech or language disabilities
  • Learning disabilities
  • Behaviour disorders or mental illness
  • High intelligence or talent

Special needs teachers must understand the unique characteristics of each student and choose or develop appropriate instructional programs and methods. Teaching techniques and methods vary with the particular disability or special talent but, in general, special needs teachers:

  • Work closely with parents and professionals from community agencies
  • Perform diagnostic assessments to determine student strengths and areas of need
  • Develop educational goals, objectives and individualized program plans
  • Choose or develop individualized educational programs (IEPs), using specially designed instructional methods and materials
  • Prepare and present lessons
  • Use assistive technologies where appropriate
  • Monitor student performance and assess each student’s progress
  • Work with teaching assistants

Their working environments and responsibilities may vary considerably. For example, special needs teachers may:

  • Teach all or most subjects for a class of children who have a variety of disabilities or a particular type of difficulty
  • Meet with students from regular school classrooms on an individual basis or in small groups, and work in cooperation with classroom teachers to help children who have learning disabilities, language deficiencies or academic deficiencies
  • Travel from school to school providing tutorial services for students who are hearing or vision impaired and providing consultative services for classroom teachers
  • Work with therapists in special clinics in which children receive assessments, therapy or instruction
  • Work with other teachers to adapt educational programs for students with special needs in regular classrooms

Special needs teachers also may work in:

  • Special schools with many classes of children with disabilities
  • Hospitals for children with short- and long-term disabilities or illnesses
  • The homes of children who are homebound due to sickness, rehabilitation needs or severe physical disabilities
  • Institutional schools for children who have neuropsychiatric, emotional or social disabilities

For more information, go to the Inclusive Education page on the Government of Alberta website.

Working Conditions
Updated May 20, 2021

Working with children who have special needs requires considerable physical, mental and emotional stamina. Other working conditions for special needs teachers vary depending on student needs and on the type of facility and its philosophy. For example, some special needs teachers may lift over 20 kilograms when helping children move to and from wheelchairs.

  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
Skills & Abilities
Updated May 20, 2021

In addition to the qualities required by other teachers, special needs teachers need:

  • The desire to help special needs students fulfil their intellectual, physical, emotional and social growth potential
  • The ability to work closely and cooperatively with other teachers, parents and consultants
  • The ability to maintain a positive attitude and focus on student capabilities, not limitations

They should enjoy finding different ways to solve questions and present information, and organizing and coordinating the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated May 20, 2021

Special needs teachers may need specific training and skills for working with children who have particular types of disabilities. For example, teachers of deaf and hard-of-hearing children must be able to use various sign languages, techniques and aids to communicate with their students.

In Alberta, special needs teachers generally have a bachelor of education (B.Ed.) degree with a specialization related to special education. The minimum qualification is a 4-year B.Ed. degree in elementary education, or a university degree in another area plus a teaching certificate.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

University of Saskatchewan

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 20, 2021


In Alberta, teachers in the K to 12 system work at the elementary (Kindergarten to Grade 6), junior high (Grades 7 to 9), or high school (Grades 10 to 12) levels. Elementary and junior high teachers are typically generalists. However, it is preferred that high school teachers have subject area expertise.


Under Alberta’s Education Act [pdf] and Certification of Teachers and Teacher Leaders Regulation [pdf], school teachers must be certificated by the Government of Alberta.

What You Need

Minimum requirements for an interim professional certificate are:

  • 4 years of university education and a recognized degree, including 48 semester-hour credits in teacher-education coursework and 10 weeks of supervised student teaching at an approved institution
  • Criminal record check with a vulnerable sector search

Requirements for a permanent professional certificate are:

  • 2 years of full-time teaching experience (approximately 400 days equivalent) in an Alberta accredited school while holding a valid Interim Professional Certificate
  • 2 successful evaluations of classroom performance based on meeting the requirements in the Teaching Quality Standard
  • Recommendation from the employing school authority

For detailed official information including coursework requirements for teachers in the K to 12 system, visit the Government of Alberta website.

Working in Alberta

Individuals who hold a valid teaching certificate from another Canadian jurisdiction are eligible for certification in Alberta without additional training or examination. Evidence of language proficiency may be required. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory in Canada? and the Government of Alberta website.

Contact Details

The Registrar at Alberta Education
Government of Alberta
2nd Floor, 44 Capital Boulevard Building
10044 – 108 St
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 5E6

Phone: 780-427-2045
Toll-free within Alberta: 310-0000, then 780-427-2045
Fax: 780-422-4199


Employment & Advancement
Updated May 20, 2021

Special needs teachers are employed in public and private schools and in hospitals and other institutions. With experience and additional training, they may advance to positions in school administration or consulting services.

Special needs teachers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4032: Elementary school and kindergarten teachers. In Alberta, 99% of people employed in this classification work in the Educational Services [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Educational Services industry)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 4032: Elementary school and kindergarten teachers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 754 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years. The Alberta Teachers’ Association estimates that about 900 teaching positions will become vacant each year due to retirement.

Wage & Salary
Updated May 20, 2021

Salaries vary from one school board to another because wages and benefits are determined by collective agreements between boards and their teachers. However, all teachers are paid according to a grid system based on the number of years of training and experience a teacher has.

All teachers employed in Alberta’s publicly supported schools are members of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) and are automatically included under the Alberta Teachers Pension Plans Act [pdf]. Holidays and pensions are specified by provincial legislation. However, teachers often use the spring, summer or Christmas break periods for professional development or for fulfilling additional professional responsibilities.

Elementary school and kindergarten teachers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $18.71 $49.21 $35.77 $34.10
Overall $35.29 $53.89 $44.68 $44.78
Top $35.29 $84.44 $59.14 $55.55

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Educational Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Education and Library Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated May 20, 2021

Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) website:

Inclusion Canada website:

Learning Disabilities Association of Canada website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated May 20, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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