Salary Range
€20k - €38k
Job Zone

In Brief...

Special needs assistants help children with a wide range of learning, physical or behavioural difficulties.


  • Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Clerical Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Knowledge areas are ranked by their importance to this career


  • Instructing Teaching others how to do something.
  • Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Learning Strategies Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Skills are ranked by their importance to this career

Work Environment

Special Needs Assistant - SNAs typically work in the following Career Sectors:

Pre-Primary Education
Education & Teaching
Primary School Education
Education & Teaching
Psychology & Social Care
Social and Home Care
Psychology & Social Care

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The Work

Special Needs Assistants (SNA) are recruited specifically to assist in the care of pupils with disabilities in an educational context. They may be appointed to a special school or a mainstream national school to assist school authorities in making suitable provision for a pupil or pupils with special care needs arising from a disability.

  • Preparation and tidying up of classroom(s) in which the pupil(s) with special needs is/are being taught.
  • Assisting children to board and alight from school buses. Where necessary travel as escort on school buses may be required.
  • Special assistance as necessary for pupils with particular difficulties e.g. helping physically disabled pupils with typing or writing.
  • Assistance with clothing, feeding, toileting and general hygiene.
  • Assisting on out-of-school visits, walks and similar activities.
  • Assisting the teachers in the supervision of pupils with special needs during assembly, recreational and dispersal periods.
  • Accompanying individuals or small groups who may have to be withdrawn temporarily from the classroom.
  • General assistance to the class teachers, under the direction of the Principal, with duties of a non-teaching nature. (Special Needs Assistants may not act either as substitute or temporary teachers. In no circumstances may they be left in sole charge of a class).
  • Where a Special Needs Assistant has been appointed to assist a school in catering for a specific pupil, duties should be modified to support the particular needs of the pupil concerned.


Most commonly reported Work Tasks

  • Administer standardised ability and achievement tests to kindergarten or elementary students with special needs.
  • Collaborate with other teachers or administrators to develop, evaluate, or revise kindergarten or elementary school programs.
  • Confer with other staff members to plan or schedule lessons promoting learning, following approved curricula.
  • Confer with parents, administrators, testing specialists, social workers, or other professionals to develop individual education plans (IEPs).
  • Confer with parents, guardians, teachers, counselors, or administrators to resolve students' behavioral or academic problems.
  • Coordinate placement of students with special needs into mainstream classes.
  • Develop individual educational plans (IEPs) designed to promote students' educational, physical, or social development.
  • Develop or implement strategies to meet the needs of students with a variety of disabilities.
  • Employ special educational strategies or techniques during instruction to improve the development of sensory- and perceptual-motor skills, language, cognition, or memory.
  • Encourage students to explore learning opportunities or persevere with challenging tasks to prepare them for later grades.

Qualities - Special Needs Assistant - SNA

To be a special needs teaching assistant, you would need to have:

  • an interest in education and in working with children
  • good communication and 'people' skills
  • the ability to work well as part of a team
  • good literacy and numeracy skills
  • tact and sensitivity
  • a responsible attitude
  • patience
  • the ability to be firm when necessary
  • willingness to help with children's personal care needs.

An ability to speak local community languages could also be useful for some jobs.

Interests - Special Needs Assistant - SNA

This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:


The Social person's interests focus on interacting with the people in their environment. In all cases, the Social person enjoys the personal contact with other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.


Creative people are drawn to careers and activities that enable them to take responsibility for the design, layout or sensory impact of something (visual, auditory etc). They may be atrracted to the traditional artistic pursuits such as painting, sculpture, singing, or music. Or they may show more interest in design activities, such as architecture, animation, or craft areas, such as pottery and ceramics.

Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.


Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.

They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.

Entry - Special Needs Assistant - SNA

Pay & Salary - Special Needs Assistant - SNA

Salary Range (thousands per year)* €20k - €38k

Full-time SNAs work on a salary scale that starts at €20,869 (€23,188 if they started after 2011), rising to a maximum of €33,605 (or €37,339) after 15 years' service from the date of first appointment.

Data Source(s):
Department of Education and Skills Circular 004/2011

Last Updated: February, 2015

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.

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Labour Market Updates - Special Needs Assistant - SNA

No shortages have been identified for this occupation

Useful Contacts - Special Needs Assistant - SNA