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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.

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

  • 4142: Elementary School and Kindergarten Teachers

2006 NOC-S

  • E132: Elementary School and Kindergarten Teachers

2011 NOC

  • 4032: Elementary school and kindergarten teachers

2016 NOC

  • 4032: Elementary school and kindergarten teachers

2021 NOC

  • 41221: Elementary school and kindergarten teachers

2023 OaSIS

  • 41221.00: Elementary school and kindergarten teachers
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
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary

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.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Elementary School and Kindergarten Teachers

2006 NOC: 4142

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Elementary school and kindergarten teachers

2016 NOC: 4032

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 71 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 11, 2021 and Jul 19, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Security and Safety: Criminal record check
Tasks: Identify childrens' individual learning needs
Tasks: Prepare, administer and correct tests
Tasks: Prepare subject material for presentation according to an approved curriculum
Tasks: Develop course content
Tasks: Lead students in activities to promote their physical, mental and social development and their school readiness
Tasks: Teach students using lessons, discussions, audio-visual presentations and field trips
Health benefits: Health care plan
Health benefits: Dental plan
Tasks: Assign and correct homework
Educational Requirements
Updated May 20, 2021
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

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.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 20, 2021
  • Certification Provincially Regulated


In Alberta, teachers work in the Kindergarten to Grade 12 system. They teach students who are usually between 5 to 18 years old. Kindergarten to Grade 9 teachers are typically generalists. It is often preferred that Grades 10 to 12 teachers have subject area expertise.


Under Alberta’s Education Act [pdf] and Certification of Teachers and Teacher Leaders Regulation [pdf], school teachers must have a valid certificate from the Government of Alberta.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Teacher.

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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 4032: Elementary school and kindergarten teachers occupational group, 99.7% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 4032: Elementary school and kindergarten teachers occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.4% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 955 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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.

Related Alberta Job Postings
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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Elementary school and kindergarten teachers

2016 NOC: 4032
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 4032 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $26.72 $45.53 $32.69 $29.12
Overall $34.83 $56.22 $44.80 $43.11
Top $44.39 $77.66 $56.45 $53.54

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Educational Services
Public Administration

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 Mar 31, 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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