Teaching Special Education: Consider Special Education Teaching as a Career

Teaching has always been a high demand career due to its moderate pay for the level of education required. In these times of economic recession and high unemployment, considering jobs that are stable and quite easy to transition into would be beneficial. Teaching, in particular, in the field of Special Education is the area of highest demand even amongst huge budget cuts and job loss amongst the educational arena. This is truly a good time to consider why special education teaching might be a career for you.

What is Special Education Teaching?

Special Education teaching is not familiar to the general public due to the little exposure and attention it gets from the media. In fact, special educators teach individually designed instruction to students with specific learning disabilities. These students include those who are cognitively impaired, have physical disabilities, loss of sensory such as hearing or vision, have emotional disorders, have speech or language impairments, or diagnosed with autism. Special Education teachers modify curriculum, utilize resources, develop learning plans, and work with other teachers. Teaching may be in a general education class, self contained classroom or in a resource room where students visit for part of the day. Other places that Special Education teachers work in are youth authority facilities and home or hospital settings. In general, Special Education teachers work with 8-16 students with one or more teacher aids if they are in a classroom. Compare this to the regular classrooms that can have up to 50 students in the secondary level and seeing about 200 students over the course of a five period day. Special Education teachers have a difficult job of working with challenged learners, but the resources are plentiful and the case load is much smaller to compensate for the attention given to each student. Special Educators find it most rewarding when they are able to spend quality time and energy focusing on helping students.

How do I become a Special Education Teacher?

For those who are curious about teaching Special Education, the path to becoming fully credentialed is not difficult at all. If you already have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college, then the next step would be to enroll in a credentialing program. Teachers may choose one of these six credential areas to specialize in: Mild/Moderate, Moderate/Severe, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Visual Impairment, Physical and Health Impairment, or Early Childhood Special Education. The preliminary credential can be completed within one to two years and ultimately the professional clear allows you five years to finish. There will be other requirements like basic skills tests. Since specifics vary from state to state, speak to a university’s credential department to find out all the details.
What is the job market for Special Education teaching?
Choosing Special Education teaching has its advantages over other careers because you could be hired while you complete the coursework . The state of California will issue an emergency credential to very few subject areas for teachers to enter the classroom immediately because of the shortage and Special Education is one of them. Averages of 10-20% job openings go unfilled each year and hiring is ongoing in most school districts. There is a great need for professionals in this field. Consider if this career is for you by volunteering in a special education classroom or completing a service learning program involved with special education.

Financial advantages

For those seeking careers in special education, financial assistance is available from the local and federal government. Special education teachers may qualify for up to $19,000 in forgivable loans if they meet certain conditions. This could be to work at an inner city school for several years. Many think that teachers are very under paid and that could be true in suburban or private settings. Considering that special education teachers work 9 months out of the whole year making on average $44,000, it isn’t as low as we think. The hourly rate would come out to almost $35 dollars an hour. Plus, teaching jobs always include a benefits package that covers health and or dental/vision. If you want a stable job or are looking for a second career teaching special education would be a favorable choice.

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