Special Education Teachers Do Special Jobs
Anne Sullivan taught Helen Keller despite Keller's blindness, deafness, and lack of formal education. Keller later earned a bachelor's degree, making Sullivan one of the first special education teachers. Special education teachers must be patient, understanding, intuitive, and willing to work long hours to motivate their students and understand their unique needs. As a special education teacher, you work with disabled youth, including students with physical, mental, and emotional handicaps, and you're responsible for preparing IEP--individual education programs.
Your Special Education Teaching Degree
Every state requires special education teachers to be licensed. They must complete special education teacher training programs and hold at least a bachelor's degree, though some states require a master's degree.
If you pursue a bachelor's degree in special education teaching, you can expect your course to take 130 credit hours. Program classes are likely to include:
- Introduction to Learning Disorders
- Education of Children with Learning Problems
- Academic and Behavioral Assessment
Employment Outlook for Special Education Teachers
School districts across the country are bringing students with disabilities into mainstream school populations. With more disabled students, the need for special education teachers is growing. In 2008, there were approximately 473,000 special education teacher positions in the U.S. Most of these professionals worked in the public school system, but special education teacher training also can be put to use in:
- Child care support services
- Individual and family services
- Offices of health practitioners
- Specialty hospitals
Special education teachers working in elementary schools in 2008 had median annual wages of $50,020. Median wages for those working in high schools were $51,340.