Those who work with children living with disabilities must undergo certain educational and training requirements. This ensures that individuals have the proper knowledge and skills, and are qualified to educate children living with different handicaps. Before working in a special education setting, individuals must also pass certain state licensing requirements.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, special education teachers are required to have at least a bachelor's degree, and most schools prefer to hire those with a master's degree in special education. Courses in a special education master's degree program teach students about classroom management, instructional strategies, developmental disabilities, the reading and writing process for students with disabilities, and learning and behavior disorders.
Before obtaining licensure and after completing special education coursework, students must complete an internship or practicum in an educational setting. This is an opportunity for prospective special education teachers to work and learn in a classroom environment under the supervision of a licensed teacher. An internship also allows individuals to work with students living with different types of disabilities and how to make a positive difference in their lives.
The BLS reports that all 50 states require special education teachers to be licensed in the state in which they teach. In order to be eligible for licensure, prospective special education teachers must complete the necessary educational and training requirements for a particular state. Many states require special education teachers to pass a comprehensive examination and complete continuing educational requirements in order to maintain licensure.
While working and educating with children living with disabilities, it's important that special education teachers develop a variety of skills they can use in the classroom. Teachers must have patience and allow extra time for children who are struggling and find creative ways to deliver the course material. This may include using videos, charts and posters to teach children. Communication is also an important element for special education teachers in order to understand a child's disability and working with parents to accommodate their needs.
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.