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Career Information for a Degree in Childhood Special Education

Early childhood special education is generally a specialized education field. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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A degree in childhood special education can be an ideal foundation for pursuing a career as a special education teacher, an instruction coordinator, or a special education administrator. Special education teachers work with students who require modified instruction due to disabilities, and special education administrators oversee special education teachers and school operations. Coordinators assess student progress, the effectiveness of their IEPs, maintain records and may introduce new methods or technologies to utilize with students.

Essential Information

Early childhood special education focuses on working with young students who require specialized teaching methods and resources. Special education teachers and instructional coordinators usually earn a special education bachelor's or master's degree and a state teaching license. Teaching experiences are also generally required. Special education administrators usually need a master's or doctoral degree in special education administration or a related field. A teaching license and experience are also typically necessary.

Career Special Education Teacher Instructional Coordinator Special Education Administrator
Required Education Bachelor's or master's Bachelor's or master's Master's or doctoral degree
Other Requirements State license to work in public schools; teaching experience State license to work in public schools; teaching experience State license to work in public schools; administrator's license; teaching experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% 7% 6% for all elementary, middle and high school principals
Mean Annual Salary (2015)* $58,640 (for kindergarten and elementary school special education teachers) $64,870 $92,940

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Career Options

Childhood special education programs train teachers to work with younger children with learning or physical disabilities. Related careers include special education instructional coordination and special education administration.

Special Education Teacher

Childhood special education teachers provide individualized instruction to students with learning, physical or other disabilities. They design individual education plans (IEP) for each student. IEPs combine special teaching methods, curricula, resources and support services, such as speech or physical therapy. Special education teachers may specialize in specific disorders, such autism or behavioral disorders.

Qualification as a childhood special education teacher generally requires a bachelor's or master's degree in special education and a state teaching license, though those who teach in private schools may not need a license. Experience is also usually needed. Special education teachers who have a master's degree may also seek advanced certification through the American Academy of Special Education Professionals.

Special Education Coordinator

Special education coordinators support childhood special education teachers by performing a variety of functions. These functions include assessing student educational needs and progress; assisting in developing, implementing and assessing IEPs; maintaining records; coordinating the efforts of professional resources; ordering curricula; implementing new technologies and overseeing special education teachers.

A career as a special education coordinator generally requires a bachelor's or master's degree in special education or related field, as well as a state-issued special education teaching license. As with teachers, coordinators who work in private schools typically don't need a license. Classroom teaching experience in special education, including childhood special education, is often also required.

Special Education Administrator

Special education administrators provide overall administrative supervision of their school's special education program. Their specific responsibilities typically include setting academic standards, establishing policy and procedure, mediating disputes and ensuring compliance with state and federal law.

Qualification as a special education administrator typically requires a master's or doctoral degree in special education administration or related field, as well as a school administrator license. Some job candidates may be able to find licensure preparation programs that meet their state's requirements. These typically require a master's degree, a teaching license and teaching experience.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that from 2014 to 2024, employment was expected to grow by 6% for kindergarten and elementary special education teachers, by 7% for all instructional coordinators and by 6% for all elementary, middle and high school principals. As of May 2015, the BLS stated that the mean annual salary was $58,640 for kindergarten through elementary level special education teachers, $64,870 for all instructional coordinators and $92,940 for all elementary and secondary school administrators.

A bachelor's degree and teaching license are required to begin a career as a special education teacher. Instructional coordinators need a bachelor's degree or master's degree, while administrators are required to have a master's or doctoral degree. Administrators also need prior teaching experience before moving into administration.

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