Researched by DALLAS M. JACKSON/Los Angeles Times

Name: Joan MacDonald

Company: Dayle McIntosh Center for the Disabled, Anaheim

Thumbs up: “I teach deaf adults independent living skills. It’s challenging, always different and never boring. I don’t just do lesson planning and teaching, I also get involved in curriculum planning, adapting lessons for the deaf, assessment and planning field trips.” Thumbs down: “Because I’m a teacher/administrator, I don’t always have enough time to do things the way that I’d like to do them.”

Advice: “My advice is to get in there and do some volunteer work with (students with) different disabilities. I focused primarily on the deaf. I had worked with children with severe disabilities, and then I got into signing. It was a challenge to work with their language.”


Salary range: Generally from $23,292 to $49,900 in Orange County. Educational and training requirements: Special education teachers must obtain a basic teaching credential, plus a specialist credential, which requires a minimum of one year of post-graduate study.

Size of work force: Medium. In Orange County, about 2,200 people, or 0.2%, of the labor force, work as special education teachers.

Expected demand: The outlook for employment is excellent. According to Cheryl Valdez, special education coordinator for the Orange County Department of Education, there is a shortage of special education teachers.

Job description: Special education teachers help gifted students and those with physical, mental or emotional disabilities. Major employing industries: Orange County Department of Education, public school districts and private, nonprofit concerns.


For more information: To find out about special education credentials, contact the 24-hour automated line of the Commission for Teacher Preparation and Licensing in Sacramento at (916) 445-7254.

Source: Orange County Department of Education; State of California Employment Development Department; Dayle McIntosh Center for the Disabled