Special Education Certification and Certificate Programs for Teachers

Special education certification is required to teach in classroom with learning disabled students. Certificate programs in special education are widely available to students at the graduate level.

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Special Education Graduate Certificate

Special education certificates are graduate-level programs intended for students interested in teaching special education without earning a formal master's degree. These programs help teachers who have experience in other teaching disciplines earn the qualifications necessary to achieve special education certification. Special education certificate programs are also useful for teachers interested in broadening their skills for their current classrooms.

Education Prerequisites

Graduate certificate programs in special education require applicants to possess an undergraduate degree. Many programs require students to have teaching experience, and occasionally students are required to have basic teaching certification. Typically, students are not required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Program Coursework

Coursework in special education certificate programs offers instruction in the techniques and methods necessary for working in the special education classroom. Additionally, students are trained to understand various common types of learning disabilities. Coursework could include topics that are similar to some of the following:

  • Introduction to student learning disabilities
  • Theories and strategies for students with learning disabilities
  • Working with autistic students
  • Understanding auditory processing disorders
  • Assessment techniques for children with special needs
  • Understanding language development and literacy skills
  • Current trends and issues in special education

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The demand for special education teachers has risen in recent years since increasing numbers of students are being diagnosed with learning disabilities. This growing number is due to multiple factors, including the creation of better diagnostic tools to more thoroughly identify special needs. As of 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that jobs for special education teachers were expected to rise 17% by 2020. The highest need for special education teachers will be at the elementary level, though there will be a significant need at the middle and secondary levels as well.

Median salaries for special education teachers, as of 2010, depended on the grade level of the students. Kindergarten and elementary special education teachers earned a median of $53,820, while middle school teachers earned $55,780 and high school teachers earned $56,830.

Continuing Education Information

The requirements to receive certification as a special education teacher vary by state. Most states require teachers to first receive general education certification, and then meet requirement for the special education licensure. Requirements may include the completion of a certificate program, experience in a special education classroom and successful completion of an examination. Many states offer special education certification in a variety of specializations based on specific types of learning disabilities.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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