How Do I Become a Special Education Teacher?

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Have you ever asked yourself: how do I become a special education teacher? Having the ability to meet the individual needs of every student is one of the various advantages of pursuing a career in special education. In past years, children with special needs, such as autistic, dyslexic and physically disabled individuals, were excluded from regular schooling because of their disabilities. However, with current federal inclusion policies mandating that children of all learning abilities be placed in mainstream classrooms with adequate support depending on the nature of the individual’s needs, the demand for special education teachers is on the rise. Becoming a special education teacher differs slightly from the coursework needed to complete certification as a schoolteacher.

Steps to Becoming a Special Education Teacher

The first step to reaching your goal of becoming a special needs teacher is to succeed in high school. In order to be admitted to a good college, you will need to take AP classes and maintain a solid GPA. Not only do you need to focus on your studies, you should also partake in extracurricular activities so your college transcripts look more impressive, thus bettering your chances of entering a choice school. While teaching jobs are often in demand, positions are competitive, and the more academically competent and socially well-rounded you are, the better are your chances of employment.

Next, you may want to think about earning a Master’s degree. Special education teachers have to adapt the curriculum from regular lesson plans and customize them for children who learn in different ways. Although a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education is the requirement for an entry-level position in this field, you may command a higher salary if you hold a Master’s degree. Completing a Master’s degree can take several years, depending on how many classes you enroll in per semester.
An important step in your quest to become a special education teacher is certification. Public school teachers need to have a state-issued license and a four-year degree in order to obtain a job. Each state has its own requirements for the certification exam, so it’s important to get details about your state’s particular requirements. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides more information about certification for special education teaching as well.

Volunteering and Internships

Finally, while you work toward your degree and certification, there are other steps you may take toward becoming a special education teacher. Volunteering can help you gain experience working with children, and the extra experience can help set your resume apart from others when you try to get a job. Taking on a paid or unpaid internship is also in your interest. An intern who learns how to interact with children while gaining experience with constructing lesson plans is a more competent and competitive job candidate.

Along with advice from your instructors and information from your school’s career counseling center, following these steps will guide you in your quest to become a special education teacher. With determination and effort on your part, you will soon have a career in a field that makes a huge difference in the world. If you are interested in knowing more about the history and contemporary debate surrounding education of special needs students, take a look at 30 Most Controversial Education Practices in U.S. History.


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