How to Become a Special Education Teacher
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Special education teachers work with students with learning, behavioral, and physical disabilities. In classrooms across the country, special education teachers adapt lesson plans for students with disabilities and create inclusive learning environments. According to theBureau of Labor Statistics(BLS), the career outlook for special education teachers remains strong, offering job growth and above-average salaries.
Most special education teachers need at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, which takes about four years of full-time study to complete. They also typically need teaching licensure. During a bachelor's in special education degree, undergraduates take courses on topics like differentiated instruction, diagnostic assessment, and positive behavior support. They also complete student teaching requirements to build classroom-ready skills.
Special Education Teacher Salary and Job Growth
According to theBLS, special education teachers earned a median annual pay of over $61,000 in 2019, with the top 10% of earners making over $98,000 annually. The BLS projects jobs for special educators to grow 3% between 2018 and 2028.
Four Steps to Becoming a Special Education Teacher
The following sections cover how to become a special education teacher, including education and certification requirements.
When researching special education programs, prospective students should check a program's accreditation status. In some states, only an accredited special education degree meets the requirements for a teaching license.
Preparing to Become a Special Education Teacher: Schools and Programs
Depending on the school, students can earn a bachelor's degree in special education or a bachelor's degree in teaching with a concentration in special education. Several schools offer online special education degrees, including theUniversity of GeorgiaandWestern Governors University.
When evaluating special education programs, prospective students should consider several factors, such as admission policies, start dates, and graduation requirements. They should also consider transfer policies, program length, delivery format, and financial aid opportunities to find a good fit.
Courses in Special Education Teacher Programs
During a special education degree, students complete courses on topics like inclusive instruction, classroom management, and differentiated instruction. In addition to coursework, special education learners complete student teaching experiences under the supervision of an experienced special educator.
Introduction to Special Education
Positive Behavior Support
Teaching Exceptional Learners
Accreditation for a Special Education Teacher Program
Prospective special education teachers should research a school's accreditation status before applying. In many states, educators need an accredited degree to earn a teaching license. Additionally, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and credits from accredited institutions.
Programs within a school may also hold accreditation. For example, theCouncil for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation为教学项目提供认证。在一些州，学生必须参加经过认证的课程才能获得教师执照。Prospective students can check the教育部的数据库to find accredited schools and programs.
Special Education Teacher Specialties
Special education students can pursue a specialization to focus their skills and prepare for specific careers after graduation. Some programs offer formal concentrations as part of a special education degree, while others let students design a custom concentration through electives.
Students can earn a specialization in elementary or secondary education. They can also pursue specializations in areas like autistic spectrum disorders or visual impairment. Many schools also offer a concentration in gifted and talented education.
Special Education Teacher Certification
Candidates may also need to pass required exams. For example, candidates for American Board'sspecial education teacher certificationmust pass a professional teaching knowledge exam, a special education exam, and an elementary education exam. Certified teachers must maintain their credentials by meeting continuing education requirements.
Components of a Successful Special Education Teacher Career: Skills, Credentials, Tools, and Technology
Strong communication skills help special educators differentiate education based on each student's needs. Special education teachers must also communicate effectively with other teachers, counselors, parents, and administrators.
Patience and resourcefulness also help special educators succeed. The ability to stay calm with students and develop creative ways to present information allow special educators to effectively instruct students. A successful career in special education also requires an understanding of the tools and technology commonly used in the field, such as assistive software programs.
Special Education Teacher Professional Organizations
Professional organizations help special education teachers advance their careers. Many organizations offer benefits such as networking, professional development, and continuing education opportunities. The following list outlines several professional organizations for special educators.
National Association of Special Education TeachersA national professional organization for special educators, NASET promotes and advocates for special education. Members gain access to professional development programs, newsletters and journals, and continuing education courses.
International Association of Special EducationCEC brings together educators who work with children with exceptionalities. The organization develops special education professional standards and offers webinars, professional development resources, and events. The council also publishes research in the field and hosts a career center with job postings.
National Association of Special Education Teachers国际教育协会鼓励世界各地特殊教育工作者之间的合作。IASE成立于1985年，成员来自50个国家，包括教师、研究人员和教授。The association hosts international conferences and works with other special education organizations to promote the interests of individuals with special needs.
Council for Learning DisabilitiesAn international organization, CLD advocates for high-quality education for individuals with learning disabilities. The council promotes evidence-based research on special education, hosts conferences, and offers professional development resources. The council also posts jobs in special education.
National Education AssociationNEA成立于1857年，拥有300多万会员，其中包括特殊教育教师。NEA促进公共教育，为教师提供专业发展支持。协会还为特殊教育教师提供资源和文章。
FAQs on Becoming a Special Education Teacher
What does a special education teacher teach?
What is the qualification of a special education teacher?
Are special education teachers in high demand?
Resources for Special Education Teachers
National Center for Learning DisabilitiesNCLD advocates for Americans with learning and attention disabilities. The center promotes high-quality special education instruction, offers scholarships for students, and provides research and resources for educators. NCLD also offers information on the legal responsibilities of special education programs.
Learning Disabilities OnlineThis site provides resources for teachers, principals, and other educators involved in special education. These resources include instructional strategies for particular learning disabilities, information on differentiating instruction, and strategies for using technology in the classroom. The site also provides resources on inclusion and accommodations.
Individuals with Disabilities Education ActThe IDEA governs special education services across the country. The website offers a resource page for educators that lists department-funded projects in different states. It also provides information on the legal obligations of school districts.
特殊教育项目办公室A division of the Department of Education, OSEP organizes programs and services for children with disabilities. The office provides grants that support research, personnel development, and parent training.
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