Alternative Careers for Special Education Teachers

Jan 19, 2020

Special education teachers may be interested in exploring other careers after they've spent some time in the classroom. Their experience can prepare them for other careers in education or for occupations in healthcare, design and communications.

Alternative Career Options for Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers are professionals who specialize in working with students who have disabilities. These educators may use the insights they've gained from their experience working with challenged students and apply that knowledge in a variety of other career options.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Outlook (2018-2028)*
Instructional Coordinators $64,450 6%
Teacher Assistants $26,970 4%
Occupational Therapists $84,270 18%
Industrial Designers $66,590 3%
Speech-Language Pathologists $77,510 27%
Writers and Authors $62,170 0%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information on Alternative Careers for Special Education Teachers

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators set the curriculum guidelines for schools. To enter this field, employers typically expect applicants to have prior teaching experience, and they may prefer applicants with a master's degree. Special education teachers spend a great deal of time working on individual curriculum modifications for their students, and those who enjoy developing curriculum plans may be interested in working as an instructional coordinator. These professionals may also train teachers in the use of new programs.

Teacher Assistants

Special needs teachers who want to continue working with students but do not want the full responsibility of lesson planning or Individualized Education Program (IEP) development and implementation may be interested in assisting. They would support the classroom teacher as directed, supervise the students in the classroom and often work with learners who need extra help. Potential assistants without a teaching certification can prepare for this career by completing an associate's degree or two years of college studies.

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists work with people who need help to develop or regain specific functions, such as buttoning a shirt or holding a pen. Since occupational therapists can work in schools and may specialize in assessing and treating children with challenges, special education teachers may be interested in moving into this profession so they can still work with disabled children. Occupational therapists must have a master's degree and license.

Industrial Designers

Industrial designers prepare for their career by earning a bachelor's degree in engineering, architecture or industrial design. While this might not seem like an obvious career option for special education teachers, these designers create and modify things such as cars and toys. Since special education teachers have experience working with disabled individuals, they may be able to contribute effectively to design plans for making vehicles accessible to people with physical challenges. They may also be ideally suited for a career creating educational toys and other products for individuals with disabilities.

Speech-Language Pathologists

Speech-language pathologists focus on working with patients who have speech-related issues or problems swallowing. Since special education teachers may often work with students with speech delays, special education teachers may be interested in moving into this career. As a speech-language pathologist they can concentrate on treating individuals who have trouble communicating verbally and help them acquire better communication skills. A master's degree is required, and some states expect speech-language pathologists to be licensed.

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors can specialize in producing non-fiction or fiction texts, and a bachelor's degree will usually suffice. Special education teachers may opt to use their experience to write materials for parents or other educators, or to write educational textbooks. Since writing lesson plans and developing IEPs for special needs students are part of special education teachers' regular duties, they may be interested in utilizing those skills and writing about what they've learned.

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