Special Education Teacher Job Description

For students who are considering pursing a job in special education, a special education teacher job description can help them make an informed choice. If they decide that this is the right career for their needs, an online degree program can make pursuing it more convenient for the busy student.

Teachers in special education are teachers who specifically work with students who have emotional, physical, or learning disabilities. This work involves modifying the learning tasks and lesson plans to ensure that the student’s unique needs are met while also ensuring that the students are able to accomplish the tasks at hand in spite of their disabilities. In cases involving students with severe disabilities, these teachers will work more on independent living skills than academics, while a focus on basic math and literacy may be present if the students are capable of achieving these skills.

Special education is a job that requires good communication skills, patience and critical thinking abilities. Teachers must be willing to not only work with special needs kids, but also with their parents. This career also requires creativity, as each special needs student is going to respond to different strategies of teaching. Finally, special education teachers need to be able to explain difficult concepts in a way that their students can grasp, so they need to be skilled instructors.

Education Requirements

In order to become a special education teacher, individuals need a degree in education with a focus on special education. The minimum degree is a bachelor degree, and teachers in public schools must also have a state license to teach. These teachers may not major in special education. Rather, many who end up in this field will major in elementary education or a subject content area, such as math, and then minor or specialize in special education.

Because of continuing education requirements as well as the demands of this particular position, many special education teachers pursue a master’s degree in their specialty. Also, traditional classroom teachers who decide they have an interest in special education can pursue a master’s degree in special education to enter the field without a bachelors degree in the specialty.

Career Options: What You Can Do with a Degree in Special Education

Special education teachers typically work in a school setting during school hours. They may have more reason to work in the summer than traditional educators, as special needs students often need additional help when school is out.

In some schools, special education teachers work in their own dedicated classroom. In others, they work alongside classroom teachers to help integrate the students in the traditional classroom, while still focusing on their unique needs. Special education teachers also work with their schools and their students’ parents to set up individual education plans (IEPs) that provide goals and standards specifically for the special needs children.

What to Consider if You Pursue Special Education

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of special education teachers in 2010 was $53,220 a year. That year there were 459,600 special education teachers employed in the United States. The job has a 17 percent growth outlook, which is close to the average. As more and more students are sent to special education programs, the demand for these teachers should continue to steadily grow, so the career outlook for the future is strong.

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