Special Education Career Guide
Because teaching Special Education requires additional certification, there are currently job opportunities available for highly qualified, licensed Special Education teachers. Your Special Education career demands organization, patience and demonstrated understanding of special needs learners. Many schools necessitate that this type of educator hold a Masters in Education with a focus in Special Education to ensure that their background is thorough and that they are prepared for whatever classroom scenarios they might face. At the University of Cincinnati, teachers receive an enhanced Special Education master’s degree that they complete online in conjunction with a current Special Education career. This allows educators to gain experience as well as education, which serve to balance out any Special Education career, as you’ll read on in this Special Education career guide.
Work Skills and Responsibilities
Any Special Education career begins with the decision made by the educator to provide the best possible learning setting to encourage the education of challenged learners. Learners can be challenged by a variety of learning disabilities, which include mental, physical and emotional disabilities, and sometimes a combination of these. To prepare for a Special Education career, familiarize yourself with common learning disabilities, including speech impairment, visual impairment, autism, and emotional disturbances like anxiety and depression. Identifying the special needs of your students is a key part of your Special Education career, as your education plan for the student relies heavily on your understanding of how that student learns. Since many Special Education teachers prefer to teach in inclusion settings to provide the most learning opportunity to every student, knowing when to modify the general education plan to benefit the individual is critical to keeping that learner on track. This can include reading certain problems orally or providing special test-taking accommodations.
Although all educators are responsible for the emotional development of learners, a Special Education career requires additional focus on helping students with learning disabilities to learn the life skills they will need to be independent as adults. Communication skills and being able to coordinate with others in the learner’s life (such as family and other specialists) is important to provide consistent learning opportunities for the student and to encourage normal development. To provide the best possible education for students with learning disabilities, educators must keep up with the latest assistive technologies available. You can bolster your background for your Special Education career by pursuing an online Master of Education at the University of Cincinnati, where the Special Education concentration looks specifically to help qualify educators to take on one of education’s most in-demand subset of teachers. Next in this Special Education career guide, you’ll learn about the different types of work environments you can expect to be in and opportunities for advancement for your Special Education career.
Special Education Career Advancement Opportunities
What’s different and rewarding about a Special Education career is the potential to develop meaningful relationship with your students who rely on you for guidance and for the strength and motivation to work individually. While the personal gratification you can receive from your work is extensive, Special Education teachers also earn moderately higher wages than general education teachers. The median annual wages earned in a Special Education career is around $50,000, varying slightly for different maturity levels within K-12 education. Below is the spectrum of pay Special Education teachers received at each level:
Preschool to Elementary, earn between $33,770 and $78,980
Middle School, earn between $35,180 and $78,200
High School, earn between $35,150 and $82,000
Right now, the climate of Special Education presents a shortage of educators in certain regions and cities and a rising number of cases with specific types of learning disabilities. If you’re able to work in the South and West of the United States, you might find more job opportunities for your Special Education career, as these areas are most in need of qualified educators. You can also find more work in rural towns and inner cities, where schools are looking to improve by bringing in highly qualified outside educators. In terms of growth of specific learning disabilities, the number of cases reported for students with autism has many schools seeking specialists who are familiar with working with this disability. Additionally, Special Education teachers who speak more than one language are highly sought by schools that need to reach students with learning disabilities who are bilingual. You can also benefit your Special Education career advancement opportunities by researching what issues might be present in your district that you could help to resolve.
It’s become increasingly apparent in schools that what students with learning disabilities need is a dedicated educator who is devoted to a Special Education career and has a solid education to support that dedication. Consider these additional resources for more information about your Special Education career.