Online Special Education Degree Programs
Special education teachers provide a lifeline to children with mental or physical disabilities, helping them learn and develop crucial life skills. They adapt the general education curriculum to meet the unique needs of each student. Some of the conditions teachers accommodate in the classroom include: mental retardation and learning disabilities, speech and language impairments, emotional disturbances, hearing or visual impairment, and autism.
Qualifications for a Special Education Instructor
Special education degree programs parallel K-12 teacher training up to a point, but also include intensive preparation for dealing with special needs in the classroom. The minimum qualification for a special education teaching job, a bachelor's degree in special education, incorporates coursework in special education. Many programs add a fifth year to the special ed bachelor's degree program to enable students to complete some graduate coursework in the field and practice classroom teaching under the supervision of a certified teacher. A master's degree, which takes an additional two years to complete, is the preferred qualification for special education positions. This is also the appropriate degree for aspiring special ed teachers who already have a bachelor's degree in another field. Both bachelor's and master's degrees are widely available online, making them accessible to working professionals looking to transition into special education.
A degree program in special education includes career training in areas such as:
- Developing different curricula to suit individual needs
- Strategic management of disruptive behavior
- Inclusion of technology in classroom learning
- Handling students with various disabilities
In addition to instruction in teaching and curriculum development, students in special education programs will also study disciplinary action, behavioral management, and counseling. Specific courses may include:
- Educational Psychology
- Learning and Behavior Disabilities
- Technology in Special Education
- Legal Issues of Special Education
- Child Growth and Development
- Strategies for Teaching Children with Disabilities
Special education training will initially expose you to the full range of special education disciplines. It's not unusual for instructors to concentrate in just one area of special education, however. Graduate-level courses and degree programs encourage specialization in an area such as emotional problems or learning disabilities, and offer the opportunity to complete an independent research project on a specific topic in special education.
Special Education Teacher Licensure
Besides a degree in special education, teachers must seek special state licensure. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, but include some amount of specialized coursework, supervised classroom practice, and an exam.
Career Outlook for Special Ed Teachers
Special education teachers enjoy some of the rosiest prospects in the education sector, with 15 percent job growth expected through 2016. Higher diagnosis rates, federal education reform, and rising enrollments will contribute to rising demand for qualified special education instructors. In addition to an increase in the number of jobs, special education applicants will benefit from a wave of teacher retirements in coming years. Average salaries are generally higher, a reflection of the greater demand and higher educational standard for special ed teachers. The Department of Labor reports mean annual wages ranging from $51,230 to $53,020 in 2007.
Pursue your Special Education major today…
Earn a respected bachelor's degree, master's degree, or Ph.D. online at Walden University.
- Doctor of Education - Special Education
- Ed.S. in Special Education - General
We keep our tuition affordable because it is an integral part of the overall mission for our university.
- M.Ed. - Program Specialist in Gifted Specialist
- M.Ed. Teaching and Learning - Special Education
Take a new step in your education with Brandman University.
- Master of Arts in Special Education (Option II)
- Early Childhood Special Education Authorization
Why ASU? At ASU, learning online is effective, flexible and smart. Every program delivered online is developed by the same excellent faculty who teach on our campuses, and is designed to engage students and professors in meaningful ways. The result? Our students are an integral part of a New American University.
- Grad Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder
- MEd Autism Spectrum Disorders
Online. Accelerated. Affordable. Accredited.
- M.S. Special Education (K-12)
- B.A. Special Education