How to Become a Special Education Teacher

How to Become a Special Education Teacher

Children with special needs require unique instruction by specially trained professionals to help them achieve their highest potential and strive to progress beyond their limitations. Special education teachers are patient, understanding educators dedicated to giving each individual student the tools and guidance needed to help them maximize success.

What does a special education teacher do?

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of special needs and disabilities. Children who have physical disabilities, developmental challenges, learning difficulties, and mental health issues will benefit from a special education teacher. These specially-trained educators create and apply appropriate curricula and assign activities that are specific to each student’s abilities and needs. Special education teachers also involve themselves in each student’s academic, social and behavioral development.

Most SpecEd (SPED, or SpEd) teachers teach elementary, middle, and high school students, but some work with infants and toddlers. Most children they work with have mild to moderate disabilities, but some SpecEd teachers specialize in severe disabilities. A variety of methods are applied to promote learning, modified to meet each child’s unique needs, but usually general education curricula is used. SpecEd teachers apply individual instruction, along with encouraging students to work in small groups to perform problem-solving tasks.

Special needs educators assist in developing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each individual student. The IEP is designed to develop individual goals for the student and is modified to the student’s abilities and needs. Special education teachers go over the IEP with the child’s parents, general education teachers, and school administrators. They work very closely with parents to keep them updated on progress and make recommendations to promote learning in the home. Click here to learn how to become a special education teacher.

What kind of training does a special education teacher need?

A special education license is required in all states. Licensure usually requires a minimum of a bachelor degree in special education and an approved student teaching program. However, some states may require a master degree in the same field. Special education training usually takes longer and is more extensive than for general education, and some programs require specialization. Click here to get your special education degree online.

What are the prospects for a career as a special education teacher?

Jobs in special education are projected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 15%, from 459,000 jobs in 2006 to more than 527,000 in 2016. (1)

Opportunities for special education jobs are expected to be excellent as there is a high demand for certified special education teachers. There will also be a large number of positions to be filled as special education teachers transfer to general education, change careers, or leave the work force in retirement.

How much do special education teachers make?

Currently, special education teacher salary is between $37,200 and $58,700. The highest 10% earning annual salaries in excess of $68,500. (2).

A special education teacher program is an natural choice for people who have a passion for teaching and working with children with special needs. This special breed of educator must be motivating, patient, understand children’s special needs, and be able to adapt teaching to each individual student. They must be able to handle stress and have excellent communication and teamwork skills, as well as be creative and adaptable. Click here for a list of online special education degree programs.

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