Special Education Certification and Certificate Programs for Teachers

Special education certificate programs are graduate-level courses of study intended for students who already hold bachelor's degrees. Learn about common courses, career opportunities, and continuing education for the field.

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. In order to enroll, students must be bachelor's degree holders, often with teaching experience and a basic teaching certification. Depending on the state in which the teacher is employed, additional requirements may be necessary before they can begin special education work.

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. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that jobs for special education teachers were expected to rise 6% between 2014 and 2024. 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 2015, depended on the grade level of the students. Kindergarten and elementary special education teachers earned a median annual salary of $55,810, while middle school teachers earned $57,280, and high school teachers earned $58,500 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.

Special education certificates equip teachers with the skills on how to teach disabled students in accessible and effective ways. Like all teachers, special education graduates will need to be licensed, both as a teacher and special ed instructor, with some states offering specialized certification for different types of disabilities.

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