Why Get a Masters in Special Education
Never before have teachers and school districts had such a commitment to teaching special-needs students, which is why teachers with a master in special education are in high demand. A master in education program allows a teacher to grow and develop while learning better ways to create classroom strategies and assess students along the way.
A special education master degree also helps a special education teacher better understand the varying capabilities of special-needs students and how to integrate these students into the classroom. Special education teachers take on a unique challenge working with students who are cognitively, physically or emotionally impaired, knowing full well that these students’ needs differ substantially from those of their classmates. A master in special education helps teachers to improve their skills and to develop specific specialties for the rest of their careers.
Teachers hoping to earn a master degree in special education must first earn a bachelor degree in education or in special education. Some teachers who earn a bachelor degree in elementary or secondary education discover that working with special-needs students is their true calling. Others have always wanted to be a special education teacher and simply want to pursue a master in special education to continue learning about their chosen career path and perhaps earn higher pay.
To be accepted into a master of special education program, students usually need a bachelor degree at an accredited institution and some work experience. Many teachers enroll in a master program after they have spent at least one year teaching in a classroom as this provides a solid foundation for the challenges of graduate-level courses. It is important that graduate students have a basic understanding of what it takes to run a classroom before continuing their education.
Career Options: What You Can Do with a Master in Special Education
Teachers who earn a master in special education often spend the bulk of their careers working in a classroom with special-needs students. Many work within a mainstream school building or district, while others work in a special-needs school. Special education teachers help their students learn basic educational tasks and teach them valuable life lessons they may not learn elsewhere. This is one of the most diverse teaching career options, and there are many ways to customize the career path.
Another unique option for students who earn this graduate-level degree is beginning a special-needs after-school program or childcare program. This is a way to combine a traditional education degree with a business venture, and it can be a very rewarding experience for everyone involved.
What to Consider if You Pursue a Master in Special Education
Special education teachers earned a median annual salary of $53,000 in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is slightly higher than the pay for elementary school teachers. The field is expected to grow by about 17 percent throughout the next decade, and a master degree in this field will help a teacher stand out in a pool of candidates.
A master degree also allows special education teachers to climb the ranks within their districts and often helps them earn more income throughout their career. A master in special education is a great next step in the career of any special education teacher whether they want to continue working in a classroom or venture into the world of tutoring and childcare.