Hanson served as a teacher, special education consultant, principal, superintendent and the Rainbow District School Board's first female director of education. She began her career as a classroom teacher in 1970 at the Borough of York, joiniong the Sudbury Board of Education in 1976.
Hanson was principal at Gatchell School from 1987 to 1993, her first role as an administrator. She was appointed education director in 2004, and retired in 2010.
Jean Hanson Public School provides programming for students who have developmental disabilities. Students benefit from a full curriculum which includes academics, communication and social skills, life skills, physical education and the arts.