Teaching Special Education - Mental Retardation

Special education teachers working with individuals who have intellectual disabilities (mental retardation) must know how to meet their students' unique needs. A special education teaching program covers methods for leading and instructing students with intellectual disabilities.

Inside Teaching Special Education: Mental Retardation

Mental retardation is defined as a condition that includes below-average intellectual function and a lack of typical daily living skills. Students enrolled in a special education (special ed) degree program discover basic methods to help individuals with intellectual disabilities learn. Methods can include problem-solving assignments, individualized instruction and small-group work. Prospective teachers also learn what special accommodations are needed when students take tests. Working as a special education teacher with a concentration in intellectual disabilities requires you to be creative, patient and willing to motivate students.

Education Information

Special education teachers usually go through more training than do general education teachers. In order to teach individuals with intellectual disabilities, special ed teachers need to earn at least a bachelor's degree in education, specializing in special ed or intellectual disabilities. Some universities offer graduate special education programs with concentrations in intellectual disabilities. The following are various options for earning your degree or certification.

Distance Learning Options

If you wish to take online courses, they are widely available in special education. Explore the pages below for more information.

Licensing Information

Every state requires special ed teachers to obtain a license. Requirements vary depending on the state, so students should check with their state Department of Education.

Career Options

There are many careers related to teaching students with intellectual disabilities. Here are a few related special education careers that may interest you.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), prospects for this job are strong due to steady increase in students with specific needs ( The BLS projected a 6 percent increase in positions for special education teachers from 2012-2022. As of May 2013, the BLS reported the mean salary for preschool special education teachers as $55,990; kindergarten and elementary school teachers, $56,690; middle school special education teachers, $59,540; and high school special education teachers, $60,410.

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