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What is Special Education Teaching?
Special education teaching is an area of work that requires an individual to identify learning and other disabilities that affect a child and develop an educational curriculum and plan that assists in tackling the disability and in order to provide the student learning opportunities. Individuals in this field may choose to specialize in a particular disability or set of disabilities, resulting in a more specific curriculum and skills, whereas others may choose a broader area of focus allowing for more flexibility in employment.
A special education teaching degree program teaches an individual to work with children with disabilities and develop an individual education program (IEP) for each child they work with to meet their educational needs. Bachelors, masters, and PhD programs are available, with some programs focusing on a broad spectrum of disabilities while others specializing in one. The final year of the program typically has the student in a teaching environment under the supervision of a certified specialist.
Programs may include courses in:
- Education of Students with Severe/ Multiple Disabilities
- Observations in Special Education
- Working with Children with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities
- Psychological Foundations of Learning Disabilities
- Literacy of the Special Learner
Employment and Licensure
All 50 states requiring licensing for special education teachers, though the requirements for licensing will vary from state to state. As detection methods for disabilities improve, the need for qualified special education teachers is expected to increase. Additionally, special education teachers can move into regular education positions, which is another source of expected open positions. The shortage of qualified individuals ensures that work will be available upon completion, though demand may vary by area and require relocation. Teachers specialized to work with specific disabilities may find it easier to find work. A special education teacher needs to be attentive and patient when working with children with disabilities and must be able to apply a variety of teaching methods in order to work with students who are having difficulty learning.
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
As the acceptance of educational needs for students becomes more widespread, and the requirement to have specialized teachers in public school systems becomes mandatory, the resulting growth is expected to increase steadily over the next decade. Areas of higher population will have more opportunities for employment.
The average salary of special education teachers is $50,000 per year, with the lowest 10% earning less than $33,700 per year.
For more information about a career in teaching, check out The Single Most Comprehensive Guide to a Teaching Career post on our blog.