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Careers in Deaf Education: Job Options and Education Requirements

Research deaf education career information. Learn about the career options, education requirements and licensing information to make an informed decision about starting a career educating deaf students.

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Careers in deaf education vary from childcare providers working with pre-k students with special needs to special education teachers and school counselors. The education requirements vary for each career. Childcare workers need a high school diploma and state license. Teachers must have their bachelor's degree and teacher's certification, and school counselors need a master's degree and certification.

Essential Information

Individuals who want to work in deaf education can choose a career as an educator, school counselor or childcare provider. These options often require at least a bachelor's degree, specializing in courses on speech and hearing science, strategies for teaching deaf learners, phonetics, sign language, speech disorders, parent counseling and language development. Educators, school counselors and childcare providers all require licenses and/or certifications in accordance with state laws, per the BLS.

Career Educator School Counselor Childcare Provider
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Master's degree High school diploma or equivalent
Other Requirements State licensure State licensure State licensure
Annually Median Salary (2018)* $59,780 for all special education teachers $56,310 for school and career counselors $23,240 for childcare workers
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3% 8% 2%

*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Educator

Teachers who work with deaf students create specialized lesson plans that accommodate the needs of each student. Some teachers work at institutes that train the deaf to adapt to hearing loss, by teaching students sign language, lip reading or how to use adaptive technology. Other teachers may work as special education teachers at traditional schools where they provide deaf students with additional academic support.

Reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that special education teachers are usually required to have earned a bachelor's degree related to special education studies. Special education teachers have to meet licensing eligibility requirements, which in most states include bachelor's degrees and completion of training programs for teachers. Upon meeting requirements, special education teachers may have to obtain more than one license. Some states require that educators possess licenses to teach certain age groups and separate licenses for each special education area, such as deaf education. Other states may offer 570one, all-encompassing, teacher licensing program.

According to BLS projections, a slower than the average growth for all special education teachers from 2018 to 2028. The median salary for special education teachers depended on the level of school they taught. As of 2018, special education teachers earned a median salary of $59,780 annually.

School Counselor

School counselors with training in deaf education may help deaf students organize their school and social schedules. Counselors can also act as intermediaries between deaf students and teachers, or between students and parents. Some counselors may also give presentations that focus on school and life skills, including developing better study habits or handling bullies.

School counselors generally need master's degrees related to counseling, according to the BLS, but workers may need to have taken additional courses to specialize in counseling deaf students. Education requirements for childcare providers vary considerably by state. In most states, the licensing process for school counselors often includes background verification checks. The BLS points out that some states refer to school counselor licenses by different names, such as endorsements, credentials or certifications. Upon passing background checks and meeting academic eligibility requirements, applicants must pass the required exams to become licensed. School counselors who specialize in areas such as deaf education may require additional licensing or certification, but this varies by state.

In May 2018, the BLS reported that professionals in the 90th percentile or higher earned $94,690 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $33,610 or less per year. Job opportunities are expected to grow faster than the average through 2028 due to a projected increase in student enrollment (www.bls.gov).

Childcare Provider

Whether working independently or at a licensed organization, childcare providers watch over children when parents or guardians are away. Those who specialize in working with deaf children often possess additional training to address each child's needs. For pre-kindergarten deaf children, childcare providers may teach them basic sign language. They may also implement daily schedules to prepare children for school settings.

Some states only require childcare providers to possess the equivalent of a high school diploma, whereas other states require workers to possess an undergraduate degree related to child development. Childcare providers may be required to have both certification and licensure, according to the BLS. Several states require professionals to earn the child development associate (CDA) certification. Some states require individuals to be licensed, whereas other states require childcare facilities to maintain licensing. However, facilities can only maintain licensing if all staff members meet licensing criteria. Most states generally require childcare staff members to show proof of sufficient training, be up-to-date with immunizations and possess no criminal record.

Employment of childcare workers projected to increase slower than the average over the 2018-2028 decade. This occupational group had the lowest median salary of these careers as of May 2018. In same year, the BLS reported that professionals in the 90th percentile or higher earned $34,430 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $17,750 or less per year.

Those interested in pursuing a career working with the deaf can take ASL in high school or through independent classes and may wish to pursue an internship or volunteer work experience within the deaf community to gain practical experience using ASL.

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