Special Education Teachers: Career Info and Requirements

Special education teachers work with individuals who have emotional, physical and developmental disabilities. They work in classrooms, hospitals and clinics by assisting in personal and life skills development.

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Special Education Teachers: Overview

Special education teachers must understand their students' needs in order to ensure that they receive proper attention and assistance to succeed in school. From making sure students receive appropriate test materials to providing one-on-one tutoring, special education teachers offer students and their families the tools they need to grow as independent individuals in the community.

Education Requirements

Universities and colleges offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in special education. Aspiring special education teachers combine knowledge of disabilities such as visual impairment, autism or Downs syndrome with practical procedures for teaching science, math and reading skills to students with special needs. Specialized courses may examine topics like low-incidence disabilities and technology for differentiated instruction. Most special education training will also include supervised classroom teaching and curriculum development courses.

Licensure

Special education teachers require a teaching license from the state Board of Education in order to teach in their field. Traditional teacher licensing programs require a bachelor's degree to teach grades K-12, but due to the high level of specialization in the field of special education, some states may require additional training - such as a master's degree - before applying for a professional license.

Additional Skills

Special education teachers must be prepared to work with students who may be uncooperative or difficult to access, such as non-English speaking students. As a result, teachers must be patient and creative, with an ability to understand and motivate students by expressing complex ideas using a variety of exercises and techniques.

Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment prospects for special educational teachers would be excellent between 2008-2018, because there is a reported shortage of qualified special education teachers in fast-developing U.S. regions, particularly in the West and South (www.bls.gov). The BLS expected jobs to grow by 17% within that timeframe. In 2008, the middle 50% of special education teachers earned between $40,480 and $63,500, according to the BLS.

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