Introduction to Special Education in Alabama

Special education teachers work with children and young adults with a diverse spectrum of disabilities—mental, emotional and physical.

Special education teachers are in high demand. In Alabama, there are 600 people working in secondary school special education classrooms. It is a job with a lot of challenges (and a lot of rewards) and often requires even more patience and more heart than other teaching jobs.

Special education teachers tend to work more closely with students and students’ families than typical classroom teachers. Teachers see the impact that they have on students and celebrate milestones with them. Some special education teachers follow a student or group of students for several school years to provide students with the stability of a reliable teacher and advocate.

Another perk of teaching students who have special needs is that you typically teach many subjects—math, science, reading—throughout the day, rather than teaching the same subject to several classes. Special education classrooms tend to be collaborative with several teachers working together on curriculum and day-to-day tasks.

Some special education teachers opt to skip teaching at a typical public school in favor of teaching at a school focused solely on students with different needs. Others work in group homes, institutions or hospitals.

The annual median salary for a special education teacher in Alabama is $52,390, according to the 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Job growth in this area is expected to be steady with 8 percent growth from 2016-2026.

Teaching Careers Guide

UWA's "Making the Grade: A Guide to In-Demand Teaching Careers" is a free resource to help you navigate the teaching jobs that are in high demand. Take a closer look at some of the most popular teaching careers.

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Become a Special Education Teacher

The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) requires all teachers to earn a bachelor’s degree and complete a teacher preparation program, which can often be done concurrently. All degrees and certifications  must be earned from an accredited institution.

Master’s degrees and specializations, like special education, tend to lead to favorable placement and a bigger paycheck.

The ALSDE grants several types of teaching licenses:

  • Class B license, for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in education or special education
  • Class A license, for candidates with a master’s degree in education or special education
  • Class AA license, which requires that candidates complete a state-approved program with a minimum number of credit hours in teacher preparation coursework

Teacher testing in Alabama is conducted by the Alabama Educator Certification Assessment Program (AECAP). Three basic skills assessments (math, reading, and writing) and the Praxis II exams for subject proficiency are required. If your teaching certificate lapses more than 12 months, you will be required to complete current Praxis subject assessments for certificate reinstatement.

Anyone pursuing a teaching role at any level in Alabama must pass a background check and agree to be fingerprinted.

Pursuing A Teaching Degree

Advance or start your special education teaching career with an online teaching degree from the University of West Alabama Online. Develop the skills and knowledge you need to change your teaching focus to or start work in one of these in-demand teaching specialties in a convenient online format. Degrees available include Ed.S Special Education Collaborative Teacher, K-6 or 6-12 and  M. Ed Special Education: Collaborative Teacher, grades K-6 or 6-12.