Special education is one of the most misunderstood educational disciplines that exists. While it’s true that many special education teachers will work with mentally disabled students and those with learning disabilities, other special education teachers will work with academically gifted students.
As you can see, working in special education requires a diverse skill set that makes you able to work with a wide range of students. In order to gain these skills and to be hired as a special education teacher, you will first need to earn a special education degree. Learn about the steps required to earn a special education degree and read about the career prospects and salaries for special education teachers.
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Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education
For most people interested in becoming a special education teacher, the best choice is to pursue a special education degree at the Bachelor’s level. A BA in special education will make you eligible to work in primary and secondary schools. To enroll in a special education BA program, you will need to meet certain requirements, which can include possessing a high school diploma or GED, providing recommendation letters and passing a tuberculosis test.
During your bachelor’s degree, you will need to take multiple classes that will prepare you to work with special education students. Special education degree courses can include children’s literacy, behavioral intervention and student assessment. Your BA should take four years to complete.
Master’s Degree in Special Education
After completing their BA, many people interested in a special education career will choose to pursue a Master’s degree. While a Master’s in special education will require two additional years in school, earning this degree can greatly improve your skills and career prospects. Before enrolling in a Master’s program, you will need to earn an acceptable GRE score, a passing score in the Praxis skills exam and proof of teaching licensure.
Courses that you can expect to take during your Master’s degree can include diverse group leadership, instructing learning disabled students and special education communication.
Earn a Special Education Degree at the Doctoral Level
Special education teachers who want to advance their career and serve their students as much as possible will often continue their education at the Doctorate level. While pursuing a Doctorate degree in special education, you can choose a PhD track if you want to work in special education research or an EHD if you wish to continue teaching special education students.
Earning a Doctorate degree requires some very advanced coursework. A few of the courses that you may take during your Doctorate degree can include special education funding, law and finance for special education and director of special education leadership training.
Special Education Salary
Similar to many teaching professions, the salary you earn as a special education teacher will depend on your degree level, the state in which you work and the educational institution where you are employed. If you want a basic idea of your potential salary, however, you should examine the data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The most recent report released by the BLS indicates that the median salary for a special education teacher working in 2015 was $56,800. This report also projects that special education jobs will grow at a 6% rate between 2014 and 2024.