Taking the steps to become a transition coordinator sets kind, patient teachers up for one of the newest jobs in 21st-century school districts. Transition coordinators are high school staff who focus on helping special needs students prepare for after graduation. It’s their duty to guide young adults aged 16-21 smoothly into postsecondary education or occupations. Transition coordinators customize IEP plans in later adolescence to ensure students with disabilities are ready for what comes next. They set measurable goals, aid college admission, secure job training, refer long-term support, teach life skills, and collaborate with parents or guardians. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 6.7 million students have disabilities. Transition coordinators are essential to provide IDEA Act services to 14 percent of school kids. This article outlines the three steps to become a transition coordinator.
Finish an Accredited Bachelor’s Program
First, aspiring transition coordinators need to enroll at a baccalaureate school. Bachelor’s degrees require a 120-credit, four-year curriculum of advanced courses after high school. They’re found at senior colleges and universities, hopefully ones in the U.S. Department of Education accreditation database. Most transition coordinators start with a B.A. or B.S. in Education. Special education programs are best because they’ll include field practicum and student teaching in inclusive or self-contained K-12 classrooms. Human service degrees like psychology, social work, counseling, or child development would be suitable too. During the undergrad years, shape a résumé packed full of experience with special needs people. Perhaps volunteer with the Special Olympics or work with the local ARC.
Pursue a Special Education Master’s Degree
Next, attending graduate school is necessary for most transition coordinators. Earning a Master of Arts or Science degree in special education will typically require 30 to 55 post-bachelor’s credits. Some colleges make special education master’s available fully online with only courses and capstone projects. Others, especially Master of Arts in Teaching tracks, will involve hands-on field practicum. The College Navigator currently lists more than 500 institutions with advanced special education programs. However, few offer concentrations specifically for transition services. Some notable ones include the University of Kansas, George Washington University, Auburn University, the University of Oregon, Lamar University, and Seton Hall University. It’s smart to select master’s that align to Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) standards. Accreditation by the CAEP also guarantees high-quality preparation.
Complete State Teacher Licensure Requirements
Lastly, school districts will require up-to-date teaching certification for transition coordinator jobs. All 50 states have slightly different requirements for licensure. Most will mandate passing Praxis Exam scores, criminal background checks, and fingerprint analysis. Some stipulate exact minimum GPAs of 2.75 or 3.0 during education degrees. The number of hours of supervised student-teaching experience may also be posted. For example, New York State requires a master’s degree, $50 fee, and 100 CTLE hours every five years for the Professional Certificate. The Illinois Association of School Boards stipulates that transition coordinators must have Type 75 certification after passing the TAP test. Check the State Departments of Education Directory to learn exactly what is expected.
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Transition coordinators can meaningfully impact disabled young people’s lives by getting them ready for bright futures. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts hiring of transition coordinators and other special education professionals to grow by 8 percent through 2026. The number of special educators in U.S. high schools will rise from about 131,900 to 141,600. Now’s clearly an excellent time to enter this career where median pay is $59,780 each 10-month school year. Follow the above steps to become a transition coordinator and help youth adjust to change.