How Do I Become a Special Education Teacher?

Special education teachers are responsible for helping gifted students and students with disabilities to achieve their utmost potential in educational settings. If you have always had a desire to help others to overcome challenges and meet their goals then you might be asking, “How do I become a special education teacher.” If you have asked yourself this question before, then read on to discover how you can make your dream come true.

What’s it like to be a special education teacher?
Special education teachers work with young children and adults with varying skills and abilities. They must be flexible and able to work with a variety of other supportive people in their student’s life such as therapists, families and other teachers. They have also worked hard to become a special education teacher, knowing that remaining up to date on the latest research will help the students that they teach. Depending upon their student’s abilities, special education teachers develop and carry out lesson plans designed to facilitate learning and foster independent living skills. Special education teachers can specialize in behavioral, learning and physical disabilities. Many special education teachers also focus on content mastery in the areas of reading and math. Special education teachers can be found working in schools, daycares and adult education centers.

What are the education requirements?
The education requirements for a special education teacher will depend upon several factors. First, the age range of students that a prospective special education teacher would like to teach will play a role in what degree plan should be followed. If you are interested in working with young children, then a bachelor’s degree in early childhood or elementary age education should be earned in order to become a special education teacher. Teachers who would prefer working with older children or adults should pursue a bachelor’s degree in either the subject that they would like to teach or in an education field. Many universities and colleges also offer degrees that are specifically in special education.

Once you have earned your bachelor’s degree in an education related field, then it is important to follow the state’s requirements for special education teacher certification in your area. These requirements typically specify how many hours of student teaching are needed along with any tests that are required to be passed in order to become a special education teacher. Depending upon the area of specialization that you have selected, most schools also offer additional post-graduate programs that offer certificates in areas such as learning and behavioral disorders that will certify you to be able to become a special education teacher. Most public and private schools strive to hire the most highly educated special education teachers possible so pursuing the best degree to fit your needs is the key to success in the education system.

What is the career outlook for special education teachers?
Special education careers are currently in high demand in both public and private education systems. People that have completed a degree program to become a special education teacher can find positions working in any geographical area and in a variety of educational environments. The average starting salary for a special education teacher is between $35,000 and $50,000. Many schools offer a pay schedule that accounts for years of experience and school district loyalty. Volunteering at a school program and student teaching are two of the best ways to gain experience while going to school to become a special education teacher.