As a special education teacher, you’re prepared to work with students who have a wide range of disabilities, including learning, mental, emotional and physical. You’re able to adapt general education lessons to meet the needs of special education students and teach various subjects to students with mild to moderate disabilities.
And to land the job you want, you must create a resume that displays not only your training, skills and expertise, but also your dedication to special education and to serving children with special needs. It’s not an easy task to differentiate yourself from other candidates with a couple of pieces of paper, but it can be done. When you create a resume that is uniquely yours, with just a glance, principals will be able to get an idea of who you are and the kind of teacher you’ll be. Consider these resume tips for special education teachers to develop the resume that will open doors to the job you want.
Organize your resume
Every successful teacher is expected to be organized, but an emphasis on structure and organization is perhaps even more important for special education teachers. Think of your resume as a tool for exhibiting your organizational skills, and focus on presenting all the information in a clear way that makes sense.
Start with a summary
To set your resume apart from the rest of the stack, consider starting it with a professional summary, or a brief section that quickly shows your strengths and proficiencies as a special education teacher.
Reveal your credentials
To work as a special education teacher, you’re required to have certain educational and professional credentials, such as a college degree in the field and a teaching certificate for the state in which you plan to teach. Make sure you include a prominent section for “education” on your resume, where you can feature your educational background, including the institution and its location, the degree you earned, and the year you earned it. This is also the place to include your certification level and in which states you are certified to teach.
Demonstrate your teaching experience
If you have already worked as a teacher, that’s very important information to share with potential new employers. But avoid the temptation to simply list your duties; instead, focus on sharing your accomplishments. Even if you haven’t worked as a full-time teacher, you can show your experience as a student teacher or intern teacher in this way. For instance, rather than saying you taught students with autism and other spectrum disorders, you could say that you designed a custom curriculum for students with autism in grades three through six, and you worked with parents and other teachers to create customized IEPs to ensure that these students would receive the necessary support to fulfill their educational potential.
Highlight other relevant experience
If you’ve worked at a summer camp for children, or as a special needs aide at a preschool, those jobs should certainly be included on your resume. But even if you’ve worked in retail or at a restaurant, consider including that experience if you can frame it in a way that shows your accomplishments and the skills that will translate well to teaching, such as communication skills and a willingness to go above and beyond your duties to do what’s needed.
Show your personality
Special ed teachers need an extra level of compassion and patience to effectively work with children who have disabilities. Look for ways to include evidence that you have the compassionate approach to be an effective special ed teacher. For instance, you may want to list a few of your “soft skills” or characteristics in your summary section, as included in the sample resume below.
Yes, everyone makes mistakes, but not on a resume. Your resume is such an important document, demonstrating on paper your value as a teacher and serving as a personal marketing tool, that it deserves careful editing—over and over again. If possible, ask another teacher or trusted friend to look over it as well, to check for any errors you might have missed. As school principals look for ways to narrow down candidates, weeding out any resumes that contain errors is an easy first step. So make sure yours doesn’t contain any.
Add a personal cover letter or email.
Finally, make your resume stand out by writing a cover letter (or email, if you’re submitting electronically) that is tailored to the specific position. In that letter, you might address why you’re particularly interested in the school to which you’re applying, and any skills or experience that make you a good fit. For instance, if you grew up with a sibling with special needs and that experience led you to choose this career, share that information.
For more help, take a look at this sample resume for a special education teacher.
1234 Main St.
Accommodating * Caring * Supportive * Creative
Dedicated special education teacher devoted to meeting student needs and assisting students in meeting their full potential. Compassionate and respectful, with a lifetime interest in special education and experience with behavioral management as well as an ability to apply a wide variety of educational techniques and approaches.
Bachelor’s degree (2017), Major: Special Education
New York University, New York, NY. GPA: 3.9
New York State Teaching Certification – Special Education Credential
Parker Elementary School, Parker, N.J.
Special Education Teacher
Developed and implemented IEPs for 45 students.
Worked with parents, teachers and service providers to schedule, manage and track extra services such as speech pathology, occupational therapy and physical therapy for 85 students.
Used diverse techniques to promote engaging learning activities for 85 students each week, including individualized instruction, small group work and project work.
Available upon request.
After submitting your resume and cover letter, you’ll have to summon patience, as it can often take weeks or longer before you may hear back. If the school has an open position and you’ve waited two weeks with no word, consider sending a follow-up email to briefly express your continued interest in the position and ask for an update. Begin your job search today and find your dream special education teacher job.