how to become special education teacher

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how to become special education teacher

Special education teachers work with students with learning, behavioral, and physical disabilities. In classrooms across the country, special education teachers adapt lesson plans for students with disabilities and create inclusive learning environments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the career outlook for special education teachers remains strong, offering job growth and above-average salaries.

Most special education teachers need at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, which takes about four years of full-time study to complete. They also typically need teaching licensure. During a bachelor’s in special education degree, undergraduates take courses on topics like differentiated instruction, diagnostic assessment, and positive behavior support. They also complete student teaching requirements to build classroom-ready skills.

Four Steps to Becoming a Special Education Teacher
The following sections cover how to become a special education teacher, including education and certification requirements.

Step 1
Earn a special education degree
One of the main special education teacher requirements is earning a bachelor’s degree. During a bachelor’s degree in special education, learners study evidence-based teaching practices and gain hands-on training through a student teaching experience.
When researching special education programs, prospective students should check a program’s accreditation status. In some states, only an accredited special education degree meets the requirements for a teaching license.
Step 2
Choose an area of specialization
Learners earning a bachelor’s degree in special education often pursue a specialization to build advanced skills in a certain area, such as elementary education, gifted and talented education, or autism spectrum disorders. The specialization may require additional coursework or work experience, depending on the program.
Step 3
Obtain state certification
Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in special education who are interested in teaching at public schools must apply for state certification or licensure. During the certification process, candidates must provide documentation demonstrating their bachelor’s degree and student teaching experience. Most states also require candidates to pass specialized exams and a background check.
Step 4
Find a special education teaching position
Finding a teaching position represents the final step in becoming a special education teacher. Licensed special education teachers can apply for special education jobs at 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 facilities.

special education teacher salary

Special Education Teacher Salaries


OccupationEntry-LevelMid-CareerLate-Career
Special Education Teacher$35,000$48,000$70,000
Elementary School Teacher$40,000$46,000$59,000
Secondary School Teacher$39,000$49,000$63,000
School Counselor$44,000$52,000$67,000
Gifted and Talented Teacher$34,000$47,000$71,000
Elementary School Principal$68,000$82,000$93,000
Elementary School Vice-Principal$65,000$69,000$91,000
Secondary School Principal$62,000$90,000$97,000
Secondary School Vice-Principal$50,000$70,000$103,000
Social Worker$41,000$50,000$58,000

**Salary info provided by PayScale

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