The Special Needs Job Guide for Caregivers: Special Needs Care Job Options

Finding the right special needs job

You have a lot of patience and you are able to interact with all sorts of people in ways that bring out their strengths. Perhaps you've had personal experience with someone who has special needs or have taken courses on the subject. You believe you can make a difference, and you've decided to pursue this career direction. But what kinds of jobs are out there and how do you find one?

Here are some job possibilities for caregivers who have an interest in special needs care.

In a family's home

  • Be a mother's helper working with a child with special needs in the home under the parent's supervision. Your presence will free the parent to focus on another child or other tasks, and it is a good way to get some experience in the field.
  • Babysit a child who has special needs when the parent is out of the home. You will need to learn how best to interact with the child and how to reinforce any therapeutic intervention he receives.
  • Provide respite care for a parent who has a child with special needs, enabling the parent to leave the home while you take over. This care could be provided for time periods ranging from an hour to a vacation of a week or more. Of course, you would need to thoroughly understand your role and feel comfortable with it, and you and the person you care for would have to be comfortable with each other before the parent goes away on a trip.
  • Be a nanny for a child with special needs. This position would normally require some experience working with someone with special needs or some training in the particular need the child has.
  • Be an au pair for a child with special needs. As an au pair, you will be attending college, and this kind of position might complement your studies if you are focusing on special needs training.
  • Work as an Applied Behavior Analysis therapist, after receiving instruction in how to provide this therapy to children with autism spectrum disorder.
  • If you are a certified nurse, you can work with children and adults with special needs who require nursing care.
  • If you are a certified occupational, behavior, speech, physical, learning, sensory integration or mental health therapist, you can work with children who have special needs, helping them to achieve their best.

In a school, day care center or treatment center

  • Work as a teacher's assistant, one-on-one with a child with special needs. This position will require patience and attention, as well as the ability to collaborate with the teacher, school counselor, parent, and other school staff, and to take instruction from the special needs coordinator at the school. This position may not require special training, although the more you have, the better.
  • Work as a day care teacher at a center or family day care that has at least one child with special needs. This position would normally require some training in special needs.
  • Work as a special needs teacher or coordinator, if you are certified in special needs education for the appropriate level.
  • Work as a therapist for children with special needs -- across the range of areas mentioned above (many of which will require that  you have the appropriate certification).

Now that you have identified the kinds of jobs you might enjoy, your next step will be to determine how much to charge for your services.

Ronnie Friedland is an editor at She has co-edited three books on parenting and interfaith family life.

Next: How Much to Charge for Special Needs Care »
Comments (16)
I am looking to work with children with disabilities. I want to know what qualifications I need and where I can get the right education.
Posted: January 07, 2014 at 12:46 PM
I would like to work with tje children and really need to know what credentials I would need
Posted: January 05, 2014 at 9:40 PM
Photo of Khrysta F.
Khrysta F.
i want to start working with special needs, i have a 23 year old autistic brother and i want to work in that field i am going to school to be a special needs teacher. but i don't know where to start looking for a job. can someone help me please.
Posted: October 07, 2013 at 9:20 PM
I have worked in a preschool for 25 years and now I would like to work with children with special needs, how do i get started? Please help
Posted: August 25, 2013 at 1:57 AM
I want to start taking care of special needs kids but I don't know where to start.. Like what I need.. Classes.. Training.. Everything in between.. In and outs.. Someone help me out please!
Posted: April 22, 2013 at 6:09 PM
I am interested in working with special needs children . but I don't know where to Start . Do I have to take special college classes or can I just take training. please help. I'm a lost on where to start and I want to start as soon as possible.
Posted: January 17, 2013 at 5:38 PM
i have a five year old son who is autistic and would like to pursue a career in teaching children with special needs but dont know where to start
Posted: November 11, 2012 at 11:53 AM
I am interested in working with special needs children. I am a high school senior and i have been an aid at my high shool since my freshman year! i love it but after i get out of high school i have no idea where to go or what to do with pursuing this dream!1 Please help me get on the righ track!!!
-Thank you
Posted: October 05, 2012 at 9:17 AM
Robert Koch
I am intrested in working with special needs children. I was a special olympic swim coach, have a diploma for medical administration. And have a strong desire to be a part ot their world.
Posted: May 31, 2012 at 9:07 AM
Stacy G.
I am interested in working with special needs children. I have a BS Degree in Early Childhood Education. 17yrs experience working with preschool children. Can you tell me what schools or agencies I can apply at.
Posted: May 03, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Elisabeth Ch.
I am interested in working with special needs children.
Posted: April 29, 2012 at 2:36 PM
Photo of Marta B.
Marta B.
I am interested in working with special needs children .
Posted: March 03, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Shawnte dozier
I work with special needs children at a middle school,and I really enjoy it. Sometime it could be a difficult job but I still give the kids my all. Their are so many different types of autism,so you never expect the something from any of these children. Just like a "normal child" all kids are different and have different talents. This how I think of it.
Posted: January 21, 2012 at 3:33 PM
Photo of Harbans G.
Harbans G.
I am interested in working with special needs children .
Posted: November 11, 2011 at 12:48 PM
Giovanni Raymond
I am interested in working with special needs children. Can you tell me where to start? Is there a certain type of schooling that deals with that field? Do I have to due a 4 yr college for a degree. Graduating in June 2012 from high school and want to start school asap but not sure what type of school to apply for.
Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:19 PM
I want to work with children with special needs, but I'm not sure what position I should be going for. Where do I start? How do I figure this out? What are all the possibilities I can choose from?
Posted: July 29, 2011 at 1:58 AM
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