Career Definition of a Special Education Consultant
Special education consultants concentrate on working on behalf of students who have special needs. They may work for the families of students with special needs or they may be employed by school boards or agencies that serve school boards, including the government. Part of their job may involve helping diagnose students. They may be involved with assessing a student to determine what issues are affecting his or her development and learning.
Special education consultants help to develop Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for students with special needs. They can identify reasonable academic targets for students and help determine what students need in order to succeed in school. Some may primarily work as an advisor for the student's family, answering their questions and providing advice through the process of developing the IEP. Those who work for school boards or agencies may focus more on training teachers and helping educators develop IEPs.
Whether they work for families or for school boards or agencies, they must be familiar with all laws concerning special education. Part of what they do is ensure that the legal requirements are fulfilled by schools. They may also assess special education teachers to see if the techniques and resources that have been recommended are being used effectively. They can help set educational guidelines and ensure that they are followed.
|Educational Requirements||Master's degree|
|Job Skills||Communication skills, teaching skills, problem-solving skills, leadership skills, analytical skills, flexibility|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$68,031|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)**||11% (all instructional coordinators)|
Sources: *PayScale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Special education consultants are required to have a master's degree, typically in special education or a related area of education. Some may also have training or degrees in mental health fields. It's common for aspiring consultants to gain practical experience by working as a special education teacher. Some employers may also require special education consultants to have their teaching license. Experience and licensure in school administration may also help fulfill these requirements, depending on the employer.
Special education involves working with individuals who have specific disabilities or challenges that affect the way that they learn and their ability to perform certain tasks. Since the individual needs for students can vary widely, special education teachers need exceptional problem-solving skills in order to find ways to effectively teach each student. They also need the flexibility to switch strategies when an approach isn't working. Communication skills are essential, because they need to be able to give teachers and other education professionals clear information. Additionally, they need analytical skills to review teaching methods and outcomes and determine how to improve instruction.
Career Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides job outlook information for instructional coordinators, who are similar to special education consultants. While the BLS expects that the average rate of job growth for all occupations will be 7% from 2016 to 2026, it forecasts a higher rate of job growth for instructional coordinators. During the same ten-year period, the BLS expects all instructional coordinators to see jobs increase by 11%. PayScale.com reported that the median annual salary for special education coordinators was $68,031 as of 2018.
Those considering a future as a special education consultant may be interested in other careers in education, such as being a special education teacher. Alternately, they may be interested in other occupations that involve working with individuals with disabilities, such as being a rehabilitation counselor. Learn more about some comparable options through the links listed below.