Special Education As A Career In 2012

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Editor’s Note: This is a sponsored post from online teacher certification programs at St. Joseph’s Online University Program

Special education teachers, when asked, often state that getting their special education degree to work in this field is a personal calling as much as it is their career.

Many aspiring special education professionals who are working their way through online programs or masters degree programs have a very personal motivation and reason for wanting to go into the field of special education. However, the newer testing protocols and earlier detection of special needs children is also prompting an ever-increasing demand for teachers who are qualified to instruct in special education classrooms.

Because of this, now is a great time to start the process of becoming trained and certified to teach special education. You will find opportunities for work, in that teaching itself is one of the most portable of all professions; there’s an increasing variety in the type of careers you can have within the field of special education as well. There is also a great opportunity to create your own niche in the field of special education because there is so much research and development in pursuit of better educating and equipping special needs children for a high quality of life.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for special education teachers is strong. It is estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that more than 77,000 new jobs in special education will be added over the next decade. In addition, there are nearly half a million existing jobs in the field of special education currently and a high rate of turnover, due to the continual influx and outflow of teachers who are retiring, going back to school for additional training and certification, moving up into administration and other career transitions.

The average nationwide for median income for special education teachers hovers just at the $50,000 mark, which will hinge in some part upon what school system you work for, whether you work for a public or private school, and what area of the country you live in. Your income will also depend in part on whether you pursue the alternative certification route to teaching or you earn your Master’s Degree in Education, as the latter can make a few thousand dollars more annually than the former.

Because there are more new jobs being created in the field of special education than there are currently trained professionals to fill them, you will find that you have a wide range of options when it comes to the type of special needs students you may take on.

What to Expect

Your students may consist of those with disabilities that are considered to be “mild” or “moderate,” such as students who suffer from the autism spectrum disorders, reading disabilities or attention disorders. You may also work at the opposite end of the special education spectrum, with students who are severely disabled in both their mental and cognitive functions, and work with students who demonstrate emotional or physical disabilities that range from mild to severe.

Depending on how large the school is, how many other special education resources the administration has available to call upon, and how much funding there is for special education curricula, you may find that your students come from a variety of backgrounds, which can make your job both challenging and rewarding.

Throughout or at different phases during your career, you may also participate in research efforts to refine testing protocols or develop new tests that can detect disabilities in many areas of functioning. You may also work on your own or with a team to develop or refine curricula to teach special education students more effectively. Because this is a young field within the field of education itself, there is considerable opportunity for motivated, skilled professionals to change how special education is taught and how special needs students are identified.

Necessary Qualities

In order to succeed as a special education teacher, you will need to exhibit a flexible attitude mentally and physically. Every day will likely be different than the one before it and you may have to adapt available curricula to the needs of your unique classes. You need to have a sharpened degree of patience and tolerance. You may also need to function in an advisory or diagnostic role, helping other teachers to help their students make the transition from a traditional classroom setting to a special education classroom.

There are an array of paths you can take, which is what makes special education both so exciting and fulfilling.

Editor’s Note: This is a sponsored post from online teacher certification programs at St. Joseph’s Online University Program; Image attribution flickr users josekevo and chicago2016photos

  • NBraylor

    Sounds very interesting. I wonder what 2013 holds for the future of special education. It’s such an important area.