There is a great need for support and professional positions to support children with special needs. Those who are looking into making changes due to the economy can look at positions in public and private schools.
Private and public schools will need instructors as well as assistants. Assistants or teacher aides are now called Para professionals in most districts. Para pro positions, often call for training and not specific coursework. Para professionals take their instruction from the lead teacher. Students with special needs also need attendants to support them in classes. These assistants serve as note takers, care attendants, and provide behavior support. One can apply for these positions from vacancies on websites. Teachers require state certification. Most if not all public and private schools require certification for teachers. Years ago, teachers of special needs students had general certification in areas such as MR, Special Education, etc. Now the field has required more specific training and expertise. College programs are available in many areas of certification from subject based and grade level training. Teachers can get certification in working with autistic, physically handicapped, hearing impaired and many other areas.
Related services are another area. Most students requiring special needs require a combination of services. Speech therapy, physical therapy. etc. Therapists require college and additional program training. All of these related services work with assistants or Para pros too.