How To Become a Special Education Teacher | Degrees and Careers (2023)

Special education teachers work with students with learning, behavioral, and physical disabilities. In classrooms across the country, special education teachers are adapting lesson plans for students with disabilities and creating inclusive learning environments. According to theBureau of Labor Statistics(BLS), career prospects for special education teachers remain strong, offering job growth and above-average salaries.

Most special education teachers require at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, which requires about four years of full-time study to complete. They usually also need a license to teach. During a special education degree, college students take courses on topics such as differentiated teaching, diagnostic assessment, and positive behavior support. They also meet the requirements for teaching students to develop skills for teaching.

This page provides information on becoming a special education teacher, including education and certification requirements.

What does a special education teacher do?

Career Basics

Special educators adapt classes and curriculum for students with disabilities. They can teach subjects such as reading and math while also teaching basic life skills to students with moderate or severe disabilities. Special educators often develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each of their students based on assessments. You use the IEP to set goals and track student progress. In addition to working in the classroom with students, special education teachers coordinate with other teachers, administrators, and counselors. They also meet their parents regularly.

Run deep

Special education teachers may work in classrooms that include students with and without disabilities, or in classrooms dedicated exclusively to students with disabilities. Special educators may also specialize in a specific area, e.g. B. Students with visual impairments. Depending on their work environment, special education teachers may use assistive technology to communicate with students.

Special educators work during school hours and prepare lessons and write reports outside of school hours. You can also meet with the parents outside of school hours.

Salary and employment growth of special education teachers

According to theBLS, special education teachers earned a median annual salary of more than $61,000 in 2019, with the top 10% earning more than $98,000 per year. The BLS projects that special education jobs will increase by 3% between 2018 and 2028.

Salaries for special education teachers vary based on factors such as location, education, and experience. For example, special education teachers with a master's degree typically earn more than those with only a bachelor's degree. Additionally, special education teachers in public schools often earn higher salaries than those in private schools.

Four steps to becoming a special education teacher

The following sections describe how to become a special education teacher, including education and certification requirements.

Step 1

Get a special education degree

One of the main requirements for special education is to earn a bachelor's degree. During a bachelor's degree in special education, students study evidence-based teaching practices and receive hands-on training through a student teaching experience.

(Video) How to become a special educator I Special Education Teacher Salary in India | Special Educators

When searching for special education programs, prospective students should consider a program's accreditation status. In some federal states, only an accredited special school qualification meets the requirements for a teaching license.

step 2

Choose a subject

Students earning a bachelor's degree in special education often seek a specialization to develop advanced skills in a specific area, such as: B. elementary school education, gifted education or autism spectrum disorders. Specialization may require additional coursework or work experience, depending on the program.

step 3

Get state certified

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in special education who are interested in teaching in public schools must apply for state recognition or licensing. During the certification process, candidates are required to provide documentation supporting their bachelor's degree and student teaching experience. Most states also require candidates to pass special tests and a background check.

Level 4

Find a special education teaching position

Finding an apprenticeship is the last step on the way to becoming a special education teacher. Licensed special education teachers may apply for special education positions in public elementary and secondary schools. Most special education teachers work in public schools, but a small number also work in private schools or in residential settings.

Preparing to Become a Special Education Teacher: Schools and Programs

Depending on the school, students may earn a bachelor's degree in special education or a bachelor's degree in teaching with a concentration in special education. Several schools offer specialty education degrees online, including theGeorgian UniversityjWestern Governors University.

During an online bachelor's degree in special education, students complete the online coursework and undergraduate tuition requirements at an approved local location. An accredited online special education degree meets the educational requirements for a teaching license in all states.

When evaluating special education programs, prospective students should consider several factors such as: B. Eligibility Policies, Start Dates, and Graduation Requirements. You should also consider transfer policies, program length, delivery format, and financial support options to find a good fit.

Courses in special education teacher training courses

During a special education degree, students complete courses on topics such as inclusive teaching, class management, and differentiated teaching. In addition to coursework, special education teachers complete classroom experiences for students under the supervision of an experienced special education teacher.

The following list describes several courses commonly found in undergraduate special education programs.

Introduction to Special Education

In introductory courses, students develop basic knowledge of special education and study topics such as best practices in the field, special education, and legal requirements for special education. Coursework may also explore individualization, differentiated instruction, the role of IEPs, and the assessment process. The course prepares for the special needs education of the upper school.

(Video) How to Become A Special Education Teacher |Courses | Eligibility |Duration|Jobs Opportunity |Salary

diagnostic evaluation

In diagnostic assessment classes, special education teachers learn how to conduct standardized academic assessments of students. Students learn how to select effective assessments, manage and interpret the results, and develop academic goals based on diagnostic assessments. Students will also learn how to create reports after conducting assessments and share the assessment results with administrators and parents.

Positive behavioral support

In this course, students will learn how to encourage desired behaviors in the classroom. Students explore research-backed strategies to maximize classroom time by encouraging positive behaviors. The course also covers consequence strategies and prevention methods. Students learn to create an inclusive and effective learning environment.

Inclusive practices

Inclusive practice courses emphasize best practices to support students of varying learning abilities in the classroom. Coursework introduces students to policies such as Universal Design for Learning and other methods of promoting inclusion in the classroom.

Teaching exceptional students

In this course, students will learn how to customize classroom learning environments for students of different abilities, including gifted students. Students learn to create inclusive environments, implement IEPs, and incorporate evidence-based practices into the classroom.

Qualification for a special education teacher program

Prospective special education teachers should find out about a school's accreditation status before applying. In many states, educators require an accredited degree to obtain a teaching license. Additionally, only students at accredited schools are eligible for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and credits from accredited institutions.

Accredited colleges and universities meet the highest standards for awarding degrees. To receive accreditation, schools must undergo rigorous third-party verification of their learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and degree requirements. Schools can receive regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally being considered the more prestigious of the two.

Programs within a school may also be accredited. For example himCouncil for Accrediting the Preparation of Educatorsgrants the accreditation of teaching programs. Some states require students to attend an accredited program to receive a teaching license. Prospective students can consult theMinistry of Education databaseFind accredited schools and programs.

Special Education Specializations

Special education teachers may pursue a specialization to improve their skills and prepare for specific careers after graduation. Some programs offer formal concentrations as part of a special education degree, while others allow students to design a personalized concentration through electives.

Students can earn a specialization at elementary or secondary level. You can also pursue specializations in areas such as autism spectrum disorders or low vision. Many schools also offer a focus on gifted education.

(Video) Careers as Special Educators– Eligibility, Salaries, Institutes, Work Profile

Special Education Certificate

Special education teachers must have a state license or certification to work in public schools. Requirements vary by state, but most states require a bachelor's degree from a teacher preparation program. Some states require specific grades or a specific educational specialization for certification.

Candidates may also be required to pass required exams. For example, candidates for a member of the American BoardSpecial Education Teacher Certificationmust pass a vocational knowledge test, a special education test and a primary school test. Certified teachers must maintain their credentials by meeting continuing education requirements.

Components of a Successful Special Education Career: Skills, Credentials, Tools, and Technology

Strong communication skills help special education teachers differentiate education based on the needs of each student. Special education teachers also need to communicate effectively with other teachers, counselors, parents, and administrators.

Patience and resourcefulness also help special education teachers succeed. The ability to remain calm around students and to develop creative ways of presenting information enables special educators to teach students effectively. A successful career in special education also requires an understanding of the tools and technology commonly used in the field, such as: B. supporting software programs.

Special education teachers must also meet certain professional requirements, which may include a teaching license with a special education certification or special education certification. Some states also require a master's degree for special education jobs.

Professional associations of special education teachers

Professional organizations help special education teachers advance their careers. Many organizations offer benefits such as networking, professional development, and continuing education opportunities. The following list describes various professional organizations for special education teachers.

National Association of Special Education Teachers

As the national professional organization for special education teachers, NASET promotes and represents special education. Members have access to professional development programs, newsletters and magazines, and continuing education courses.

International Association for Special Education

CEC brings together educators who work with children with exceptions. The organization develops professional standards for special education and offers webinars, professional development resources, and events. The council also publishes research in the field and hosts a careers center with job postings.

National Association of Special Education Teachers

IASE encourages collaboration between special education teachers around the world. Established in 1985, IASE hosts members from 50 countries, including professors, researchers and professors. The association organizes international conferences and collaborates with other special education organizations to promote the interests of people with special needs.

Counseling for learning disabilities

CLD is an international organization dedicated to providing quality education for people with learning disabilities. The council promotes evidence-based research in special education, organizes conferences, and offers resources for professional development. The board also posts vacancies in special education.

National Education Association

Founded in 1857, the NEA is home to more than three million members, including special education teachers. NEA promotes public education and supports the professional development of teachers. The association also offers resources and articles for special education teachers.

Frequently asked questions about becoming a special education teacher

What Does a Special Education Teacher Teach?

Special education teachers work with K-12 students on basic skills like reading and math.

What is a Special Education Qualification?

Requirements for special education teachers are usually a bachelor's degree and a bachelor's degree. Special educators may also need special education.

Is there a high demand for special education teachers?

The BLS expects 13,600 new jobsSpecial Education Teacherbetween 2018 and 2028.

How much schooling does a special education teacher need?

In most states, special education teachers require at least a bachelor's degree with an emphasis or specialization in special education.

Resources for Special Education Teachers

National Center for Learning Disabilities

NCLD works to serve Americans with learning and attention disabilities. The center promotes quality special education, provides scholarships for students, and provides research and resources for educators. NCLD also provides information on the legal responsibilities of special education programs.

Problems with online learning

This site provides resources for teachers, school leaders, and other educators involved in special education. These resources include teaching strategies for specific learning difficulties, information on differentiated teaching, and strategies for using technology in the classroom. The site also offers resources on inclusion and housing.

Disability Education Act

IDEA regulates special education across the country. The website features an educator resource page that lists projects funded by departments in various states. It also includes information on the legal obligations of school districts.

Office of Special Education

OSEP, a department of the Department of Education, organizes programs and services for children with disabilities. The office awards grants that support research, staff development, and parent education.

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How To Become a Special Education Teacher | Degrees and Careers? ›

The base salary for Special Education Teacher ranges from $53,858 to $89,473 with the average base salary of $68,324.

What are the requirements to be a Special Education Teacher in NY? ›

Career Information for a Certified New York State Special Education Teacher
Education/Experience RequiredBachelor's degree
Exam RequirementsEAS CST edTPA DASA
Certification Renewal PeriodFive years (initial certificate)
Requirements for RenewalInitial certificate cannot be renewed
2 more rows

What is the highest salary for a Special Education Teacher? ›

The base salary for Special Education Teacher ranges from $53,858 to $89,473 with the average base salary of $68,324.

What degree do you need to teach autistic students? ›

Educator/Autism Program Specialist

Autism program specialists need to have specialized knowledge and experience in ASD and at least a master's or bachelor's degree in education, psychology, social work or human services. Further certifications may be needed depending on employer or state.

What is another name for a Special Education Teacher? ›

Special education teachers might also be called inclusive education teachers or learning support teachers.

How do I get certified in special education in NY? ›

Minimum of 3 years teaching experience at 1st and/or 2nd grade levels. Minimum of 45 hours of acceptable CTLE focused on SWD at the early childhood level. Minimum of 3 credits of pedagogical course work focused on SWD at the early childhood education level.

How much does a special ed teacher makes in NYC? ›

Salaries by years of experience in New York, NY
Years of experiencePer year
1 to 2 years$63,278
3 to 5 years-
6 to 9 years$72,307
More than 10 years$79,915
1 more row

What is the lowest salary for a special education teacher? ›

$47,500 is the 25th percentile. Salaries below this are outliers. $84,000 is the 90th percentile. Salaries above this are outliers.

Who pays teachers the most? ›

New York leads the nation in teacher pay with an average salary of $80,286, according to WalletHub.

Can an autistic child become a doctor? ›

The limiting reality factor to completing medical school and residency, then functioning as a physician, would be the extent of the underlying disability. With autism, for example, the disability can range from severe (low functioning) to minor (high functioning).

Is college hard for autistic students? ›

Although some individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may find college overwhelming or too challenging, many students with autism do well in an academic environment, particularly if they have the opportunity to focus on areas of personal interest.

Do autistic kids graduate college? ›

According to a study by psychologist Susan W. White, only 41% of students with disabilities, including autism, enrolled in a four-year college will graduate with a bachelor's degree. By comparison, around 59% of the average, non-disability students graduate.

What are disability teachers called? ›

While the title of “Special Education Teacher” has been the norm for many years, districts and staff around the world have begun to shift the title to other things.

What is a special education credential called? ›

Education Specialist Instruction Credential (CL-808CA) Notice: Commission Flexibilities Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) More Information.

What is the new term for special needs? ›

Instead of "my child with special needs," consider substituting "my child," or "my child with," or even just your child's name. When speaking with others, the term "disabled" is widely preferred, but it never hurts to ask about someone's personal preference when it comes to language.

Can you teach in NYC without certification? ›

Individuals must have a valid teaching certificate from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to be eligible for a permanent teaching position in our schools, but there are many different paths to fulfill those requirements.

How long does it take to get a teaching certificate in NY? ›

Apply for Your Professional Teaching Certificate in New York

A professional teaching certificate is an advanced certificate for teachers with a master's degree, a year of mentored teaching, and at least three years of teaching experience.

What is an IEP diploma in NY? ›

The IEP diploma is intended for a student with the most significant disabilities in recognition of his or her successful achievement of individual educational goals based on the appropriate level of the learning standards as specified in the student's current IEP.

What is the highest teacher salary in New York? ›

For 2021-22, starting salaries for teachers range from $61,070 (bachelor's degree, no prior teaching experience) to $83,972 (master's degree, eight years teaching experience, without additional coursework). New teachers with a master's degree but no prior teaching experience will earn $68,252.

How much do elementary special education teachers get paid in New York? ›

The average Elementary Special Education Teacher salary in New York, NY is $41,429 as of May 01, 2023, but the salary range typically falls between $35,529 and $49,358.

How much does a teacher elementary get paid in NYC? ›

The average salary for a elementary school teacher in New York is $53,500 per year. Elementary school teacher salaries in New York can vary between $23,000 to $104,500 and depend on various factors, including skills, experience, employer, bonuses, tips, and more.

How many sped teachers are there in the us? ›

National estimates for Special Education Teachers, All Other:
Employment (1)Employment RSE (3)Mean wage RSE (3)
42,7803.4 %1.6 %

Why do so many special education teachers quit? ›

Lack of support from administrators and colleagues. Large caseloads. Non-teaching responsibilities (e.g., excessive paperwork) Student behavior.

What state pays sped teachers the most? ›

The highest-paid state for special education teachers is Maryland with an average salary of $76,282 per year. What city pays special education teachers the most?

What type of teacher is in highest demand? ›

Which teaching subject is most in demand? While specific needs vary by institution, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are subjects that are always in high demand.

What is the best grade to teach elementary? ›

If your really love helping young learners grow and play, preschool, kindergarten, or grades 1 through 3 are great. If you're more interested in helping children develop good thinking skills as they mature, grade 4 is a good place to start.

Where is the best place to live as a teacher? ›

New York held the No. 1 position partly due to its high rankings in teacher salaries and public-school spending per student — achieving No. 1 in each category. Utah, which carried the second highest ranking in the opportunity category, held the second spot overall behind New York.

What is the highest paying job in the world? ›

Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs in the World [A Complete Guide]
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • General Surgeon.
  • Senior Software Engineer. Explore our Popular Software Engineering Courses.
  • Investment Banker.
  • Data Scientist.
  • IT Systems Manager.
  • Corporate Lawyer.
  • Project Manager.

Is autism is Hereditary? ›

Inheritance. ASD has a tendency to run in families, but the inheritance pattern is usually unknown. People with gene changes associated with ASD generally inherit an increased risk of developing the condition, rather than the condition itself.

Is autism a disability? ›

Autism is a neurological developmental disability with an estimated prevalence of one to two percent of the American and worldwide population. The diversity of the disability means that each person's individual experience of autism and needs for supports and services can vary widely.

What percent of doctors are autistic? ›

The condition is typically diagnosed later in life. Surveys estimate that about 1 percent of doctors — primarily general practitioners and psychiatrists — are autistic. Many hide their diagnosis from their colleagues because they worry they will be stigmatized.

What is the average GPA for autistic people? ›

Academic Achievement

Overall, the sample reported a high degree of academic success. The average reported GPA for the sample was 3.27, with 80 percent of individuals reporting GPAs above 3.0.

What is the hardest part of being autistic? ›

Due to the behavioural, information processing and sensory aspects of their diagnosis, many people on the autism spectrum often prefer familiar environments with a predictable routine. Restricted and repetitive interests, sensory processing differences and heightened anxiety can make even small changes stressful.

Can autistic people drive? ›

Yes, they can and do. According to research conducted at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), two-thirds of 15- to 18-year-old autistic adolescents without intellectual disability are currently driving or planning to drive, and 1 in 3 autistic individuals without intellectual disability get licensed by age 21.

What is the best college major for kids with autism? ›

Other good majors are: accounting, engineering, library science, and art with an emphasis on commercial art and drafting. Majors in history, political science, business, English or pure math should be avoided.

What happens to autistic kids after high school? ›

But more than half of kids with autism remain unemployed or unenrolled in school in the two years after high school. Roughly half of young adults with autism have never held a paying job. Many of these young adults also age out of school-based autism services and also struggle to find health care.

What type of school is best for high-functioning autism? ›

If you have a high-functioning child who would do well in a diverse population, public school might work well. If your child requires more individualized attention or specific kinds of therapies, a private, specialized school may be the best fit.

Why do you want to be a sped teacher? ›

Working with special needs students gives you the opportunity to impact the lives of children who have disabilities, learning disorders, and developmental delays. Not only are you making an impact in the lives of students by giving them tools and resources to learn according to their learning style.

What can I say instead of sped? ›

Synonyms of sped
  • raced.
  • travelled.
  • rushed.
  • traveled.
  • drove.
  • flew.
  • zipped.
  • trotted.

What makes a good special education teacher? ›

A good special education teacher needs to be patient and understand her students better to help them learn. Acceptance : Special education teachers work with disabled students with various problems. Irrespective of the issues, these professionals must accept all the children and interact with love and respect.

What is the highest level of education credentials? ›

A doctorate is the highest level of formal education available. Doctoral programs include coursework, comprehensive exams, research requirements, and a dissertation. Doctoral programs require students to have a master's degree, although some doctorates incorporate a master's as part of the curriculum.

What does DSC stand for in special education? ›

This school year is going to be my 10th year working with DSC (Developmental Skills Class) but is my 19th year working within the Special Education program.

Is a teaching credential the same as a master's degree? ›

No, a teaching credential is not the same as a master's degree. A master's degree declares that you have mastered the knowledge within a university's program area. A teaching credential is the licensure process needed in order to teach within a given state.

Does ADHD count as a disability? ›

Is ADHD considered a disability? Yes, ADHD is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). There are several types of disabilities, including but not limited to: learning disability.

What is another name for special needs education? ›

Special education (known as special-needs education, aided education, exceptional education, alternative provision, exceptional student education, special ed., SDC, or SPED) is the practice of educating students in a way that accommodates their individual differences, disabilities, and special needs.

Is a child with ADHD considered special needs? ›

Federal Law Protects Students from Disability Discrimination

Regardless of how well he or she performs in school, a student who has trouble concentrating, reading, thinking, organizing or prioritizing projects, among other important tasks, because of ADHD may have a disability and be protected under Section 504.

Can I become a teacher without a teaching degree NYC? ›

To work as a teacher or substitute teacher in New York City, you will need to have a teaching certificate issued by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) or have a bachelor's degree and complete an alternative program that allows you to earn the certificate while you work, such as the New York City Teaching ...

What qualifications do you need to substitute teach in NY? ›

Experience. No experience is necessary if you work fewer than 40 days per school year in any one New York school district. If you work a long-term position (more than 40 days per school year), you must have either student teaching experience or teaching experience under a New York teaching certificate.

Do you need a degree to teach in NYC? ›

To become a New York teacher, a candidate must meet the requirements stipulated by the Office of Teaching Initiatives. Like most states, New York requires that all state teachers hold a bachelor's degree, complete a New York teacher certification program, and pass the required content examinations.

Can I teach in NYS with a bachelor's degree? ›

To teach in New York, candidates must earn a bachelor's degree and/or complete a teacher preparation program and pass state certification exams. All teachers, administrators, and pupil personnel service providers at K-12 public schools in New York require certification through NYSED.

Can I teach in NY without certification? ›

New York State requires that all teachers, school leaders (administrators), and pupil personnel service providers who are employed or wish to become employed in the State's public schools hold a New York State certificate.

How much do subs make in NYC? ›

Full Time Substitute Teacher Salary in New York
Annual SalaryMonthly Pay
Top Earners$51,383$4,281
75th Percentile$43,730$3,644
25th Percentile$32,798$2,733

How do substitute teachers get paid NYC? ›

Substitute teachers can be paid weekly or monthly depending on the school.

Do you need a bachelors to be a substitute teacher in NY? ›

Educational requirements

New York state does not have a minimum educational requirement for substitute teachers, but some schools, districts, and substitute teacher companies do. For example, Swing Education requires all of its New York substitute teachers to hold a bachelor's degree.

Can you teach in NYC without a Masters? ›

What education do I need to become a teacher? In New York State, teachers can get initially certified with a bachelor's degree in education. If you already have a bachelor's degree, you can become a teacher by earning a master's degree in education.

How do I become a preschool teacher in NY? ›

You will need to possess a Bachelor's degree, at least 6 credit hours in early childhood education OR at least 6 months of experience working in a school-based setting with children under the age of 6, and commit to obtain a NY State Early childhood teacher certification within three years of employment.

How do I become an assistant teacher in NYC? ›

Assistant Teacher (Certified)
  1. Be at least eighteen years old; and.
  2. Possess a high school diploma or equivalent (GED); and.
  3. Hold a valid Level 1 or higher NY State Teaching Assistant certification or a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.


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