The Arizona Department of Education reported 1,112,146 students enrolled for the 2016-2017 school year. In that same academic year, the state served over 135,000 students with special needs. These large numbers illustrate the strong need for special education teachers in Arizona.
Special Education Certification Requirements in Arizona
|Average Salary for Special Education Teachers in Arizona (2016)*|| $43,530 (Preschool)
$44,420 (Kindergarten & Elementary School)
$41,870 (Middle School)
$51,030 (Secondary School)
|Required Degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Education, with a specialization in special education|
|Testing Requirements||AEPA Professional Knowledge: Early Childhood and
AEPA Subject Knowledge: Early Childhood Special Education
NES Subject Knowledge: Special Education and
NES Assessment of Professional Knowledge: Elementary Education
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Step 1: Complete Education Requirements
Students interested in teaching special education in Arizona must complete a bachelor's degree in special education from an accredited college or university. Students can pursue a bachelor's of education dual program degree in special and elementary education. Such a degree offers teaching certificates in mild to moderate disabilities special education, K-12 and elementary education, grades 1 through 8. Coursework includes incorporating technology into teaching and evidence-based practices in subjects such as social studies, literacy, and math.
As part of their undergraduate experience, students must complete a student teaching program. Duration of assignments varies on the educational institution. The bachelor's dual program degree in special and elementary education requires a full-time assignment for the whole school year, while other programs only require a semester-long assignment.
Step 2: Obtain Certification Requirements
Once students fulfill the educational requirements, they must obtain certification to teach special education in the state of Arizona. The Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments offers several certifications that test applicants' proficiency in their chosen area of special education.
The Standard Professional Early Childhood Education, Birth-Age 8 or Grade 3 Certificate is valid for 12 years, at which time it can be renewed. Two exams are required for this certification:
- The AEPA Professional Knowledge: Early Childhood (93) exam is administered online and contains 100 multiple choice questions, along with 3 written assignments. Applicants must earn a score of 240 to pass.
- The AEPA Subject Knowledge: Early Childhood Special Education (83) exam is also administered online and has 100 multiple choice questions. A passing score is 240.
The Standard Professional Mild-Moderate Disabilities Special Education, K-12 Certificate is also valid for twelve years and can be renewed. It qualifies teachers to work with students that have issues like traumatic brain injury, intellectual disabilities, or mild to moderate autism. This certificate can be achieved by passing two exams:
- The NES Subject Knowledge: Special Education (NT 601) exam is offered online and has 150 multiple-choice questions. A passing score is 220.
- The NES Assessment of Professional Knowledge: Elementary Education (NT 051) is also offered online and has 100 multiple-choice questions. It also has a case study written assignment and a work product written assignment. Teachers will need a score of 220 to pass.
Arizona also offers the following certifications: Severely and Profoundly Disabled (Grades K-12), Hearing Impaired Special Education (Birth-Grade 12), and Visually Impaired Special Education (Birth-Grade 12).
All teachers, regardless of grade level or subject area, must obtain an Identity Verified Prints (IVP) fingerprint clearance card that is issued by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Teachers must also complete a college course or pass an exam on the Arizona Constitution, as well as the United States Constitution.
Certification Resources for Arizona Special Education Teachers
The below courses can help special education teachers prepare for their certification examinations.