Special Education Certification and Certificate Programs for Teachers

Special education certification is required to teach in classrooms with learning-disabled or autistic students. Special education certificate programs are graduate-level courses of study intended for students who already hold bachelor's degrees.

Essential Information

Emphasizing teaching strategies and assessment techniques, special education certificate programs help teachers who have experience in other teaching disciplines earn the qualifications necessary to teach disabled students. These certificate programs are also useful for teachers interested in broadening their skills for their current classrooms. Depending on the state in which the teacher is employed, additional requirements may be necessary before he or she can begin special education work.

  • Program Levels: Certificate program
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree, teaching experience often required (possibly with basic teaching certification)

Special Education Certification

Coursework in special education certificate programs offers instruction in the techniques and methods necessary for working in the special education classroom. Additionally, students are trained to understand various common types of learning disabilities. Coursework could include topics such as:

  • Introduction to student learning disabilities
  • Theories and strategies for students with learning disabilities
  • Working with autistic students
  • Understanding auditory processing disorders
  • Assessment techniques for children with special needs
  • Understanding language development and literacy skills

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The demand for special education teachers has risen in recent years since increasing numbers of students are being diagnosed with learning disabilities. This growing number is due to multiple factors, including the creation of better diagnostic tools to more thoroughly identify special needs. As of 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that jobs for special education teachers were expected to rise 6% between 2012 and 2022. The highest need for special education teachers will be at the elementary level, though there will be a significant need at the middle and secondary levels as well.

Median salaries for special education teachers, as of 2014, depended on the grade level of the students. Kindergarten and elementary special education teachers earned a median annual salary of $54,570, while middle school teachers earned $56,760 and high school teachers earned $57,810 per year.

Continuing Education Information

The requirements for receiving certification as a special education teacher vary by state. Most states require teachers to first receive general education certification, and then meet requirements for the special education licensure. Requirements may include the completion of a certificate program, experience in a special education classroom, and successful completion of an examination. Many states offer special education certification in a variety of specializations based on specific types of learning disabilities.

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