Special education instructors work as teachers and consultants in schools at all levels, helping students with disabilities to succeed. Students seeking a career in special education can find programs at the master's degree level as well as doctorate level. They can choose a program offering a degree specifically in special education, or they might choose special education as an area of concentration within a Master of Education program. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, test scores and may also require proof or real world experience.
These programs are often tailored to satisfy state education requirements, and they cover the latest theories in special education, a constantly evolving field. Many master's degree programs for special education instructors allow students to concentrate their studies in areas such as emotional and behavior disorders, early childhood special education, visual impairment or mental retardation, and these programs are four years in length.
Master's Degree in Special Education
Numerous 4-year colleges and universities offer special education programs at the master's degree level. The submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores is often required. Courses in master's degree-level programs in special education vary based the age group and concentration within special education for which a student is preparing, but common courses include the following:
- Special education assessment tools
- Behavior analysis
- Classroom management
- Current issues in special education
- Disability law
- Special education practicum
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), special education teachers held approximately 450,700 jobs in 2014 (www.bls.gov). These instructors primarily work in public and private educational institutions. Growth in this field was expected to reach 6% between 2014 and 2024. According to May 2015 BLS figures, mean annual wages for special education instructors were $58,210 for preschool teachers, $60,300 for middle school teachers, $62,180 for secondary school teachers and $57,670 for all other special education teachers.
Continuing Education Information
Special education instructors are required to be licensed in all states. While some states allow certification with only a bachelor's degree, others require the completion of a master's degree program or some graduate-level coursework. Some master's programs for special education instructors are specifically designed to lead to certification. Though requirements vary by state, these programs often include extensive field experience in a classroom setting. Individuals interested in further study can pursue a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in special education.
Those interested in the field of special education can find many 4-year schools offering master's programs. Though programs vary, students are usually able to focus their studies to a particular area, including emotional and behavior disorders, early childhood special education, visual impairment or mental retardation.