Special Education Degrees
Special educators teach children of all ages who have disabilities, often by adapting standard curricula to meet the needs of their students. An important part of the job is working with parents, administrators, and other teachers to develop and implement a plan for each student’s education, known as the Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Special Education degree programs are offered at several different levels. Bachelor’s degree programs in special education will teach you the theory and practices that will help you maximize student learning. You will learn diagnostic tools, develop your instructional skills, and learn about the range of services that are available to students with special needs. A special education bachelor’s degree program will require 4 years of study.
A master’s degree is another popular program choice for those who are interested in pursuing a career in special education. In fact, some states require that special education professionals have earned a master’s degree in order to obtain a license. Master’s degrees involve 2 years of study and require that the student has already earned at least a bachelor’s degree.
Ph.D. programs in special education focus on services for exceptional/disabled students and administration. They prepare you for upper level administration positions such as a director of special education or disability services.
Special education teachers must hold state licenses to teach in the public schools. To obtain a license, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, completion of an approved teaching program, and practical teaching experience. Practice teaching will give you real-life experience and is required for certification. Some states require you to obtain a master’s degree or pass an exam as well.
Job Opportunities in Special Education
Employment for special education teachers is expected to increase by 17 percent from 2008 to 2018, but does vary by geographic area and specialty. This is partially due to our ability to diagnose learning disabilities earlier in children’s development. The more people who have learning disabilities, the more special education services and teachers will be needed in schools.
Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition; Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.