Developmental interventionists, or early interventionists, work primarily with infants and toddlers from birth to age three to address developmental delays. Developmental delays include physical delays, cognitive delays, self-help delays, social delays and emotional delays. Developmental interventionists are essentially special education teachers who have specialized education and training in teaching young children.
All special education teachers must complete a teacher education program. Coursework topics typically include child development, curriculum development, behavior management, teaching strategies, educational psychology, child psychology, special education laws and student assessment. Some special education programs may be general in nature, preparing teachers to work with special education students of varying ages and with varying disabilities, while other programs may be more specialized. If you know for certain that you want to work with young children, consider choosing an early childhood program rather than a general special education program.
Testing and Internships
Most states require teachers to pass teacher exams, such as the Praxis Series tests which are offered by the Educational Testing Service. Special education teachers may need to pass both a general knowledge test and a special education test. Typically, special education teachers must complete an internship before becoming a fully licensed special education teacher.
Developmental interventionists who work in a public school setting must have a teaching license issued by their state. Licensing requirements vary by state, but typically include completing a teacher education program as part of a bachelor's degree, passing teacher exams and passing a background check. To renew your teacher's license every few years, you will typically need to complete graduate coursework and/or attend professional development seminars.
Special education teachers need certain personality traits, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to being knowledgeable about disabilities and teaching strategies, developmental interventionists also need to be patient, caring, creative, cooperative and have good communication skills. Not only will developmental interventionists need to be able to successfully work with children, they will also work with colleagues, assistants, administrators and parents.
2016 Salary Information for Special Education Teachers
Special education teachers earned a median annual salary of $57,840 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, special education teachers earned a 25th percentile salary of $46,080, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $73,740, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 439,300 people were employed in the U.S. as special education teachers.