The Advantages To Earning A Special Education Degree
Earning a special education degree gives students the ability to provide instruction to children and adults with special needs and disabilities which impair mental, physical or psychological function. Graduates with special education degrees gain the knowledge necessary to modify educational programs and manage classrooms with students who have special needs. Special education programs give students skills to provide classroom instruction, create curricula, and manage behavior, like standard education programs. Additionally, special education programs offer specialized knowledge regarding learning disabilities, mental and physical retardation, and behavior issues to advance to careers as special education professionals within schools, organizations, and other institutions.
Most colleges and universities have developed innovative online programs due to the increasing demand of students managing work and family responsibilities while pursuing a degree. Online programs offer virtually the same educational experiences, materials, and instruction as traditional, on campus programs. Many online programs also offer students the added benefits of increased flexibility with course scheduling and 24 hour access to course information. Online classes generally consist of groups of 25 students with one on one access to instructors and other classmates through Internet chats. Many students find the most convenient and affordable ways to advance their education is through online degree programs.
What Students Learn Within Special Education Degree Programs
Students enrolled within special education degree programs gain the skills necessary to work with and instruct children and other individuals with special needs. Special education degrees give students an understanding of the standard educational system with additional specialized training to manage and modify instruction to students with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. Special education professionals are required to complete a minimum of bachelor degree studies to qualify for employment though many employers prefer candidates with master’s level training. Some students begin studies at an associate degree level with a major in an early education and special needs program.
Courses at an associate’s level include: interpersonal communications; college Algebra; introduction to computer science; introduction to early childhood education; foundations of early childhood development; early childhood curriculum planning; child safety, health, and nutrition; creative activities for young children; young children with special needs; introduction to psychology; sociology; advocating for children with special needs; the inclusive classroom; the exceptional child; curriculum and instruction for children with special needs; computer applications and business systems concepts; observation and assessment in early childhood education; introduction to philosophy; ethics; introduction to literature; introduction to human biology; principles of economics; general psychology; U.S. history: 1900 to the present; and human geography. Students who complete associate degree programs may gain employment as special education teacher’s assistants or advance to bachelor degree programs.
Bachelor degree programs give students expanded and specialized training regarding the field of special education. Bachelor level courses include: English composition; literature and advanced writing; college Algebra; introduction to philosophy; introduction to biology; United States History; principles of psychology; world cultural geography; public speaking; human development and behavior; introduction to education of exceptional children; foundations of education; children and youth in urban school; educational psychology; teaching, math, science, health, physical education methods for special population; introduction to legal issues in special education; behavior management in the classroom; assessment of the exceptional children; vocational aspects of disabilities; development of individualized educational programs; observation and student teaching in special education; language acquisition; teaching reading in elementary and secondary schools; technical/corrective remedial reading; introduction to adaptive physical education; child health and nutrition; theory and application of mathematics; children’s literature; and field experience in special education. Graduates with bachelor degrees advance to licensing procedures as determined by state regulations and often may gain entry level employment as special education teachers. Some students may advance to graduate level programs.
Student who pursue master’s degree programs receive a broad understanding of education as well as means of developing the potential of children with special needs. Courses at a master’s degree level include concentrations in autism, technologies for special education, languages and cultural issues, and other topics. Courses at a master’s level include: fundamentals of special education; the inclusive classroom; literacy and content skill development; special education processes; emotional and behavioral support;high incident disabilities; teaching students with low incident disabilities; pervasive developmental disorders; integrating technology for learning and achievement; special educations: methods and practices; characteristics and methods of autism; character and methods of high functioning autism; communication and language interventions; behavior and sensory support; technologies for performance support; computer skills for teachers; multimedia instructional design; research and evaluation instruction techniques; language learning and teaching; structure and sound systems of English; design and assessment; the intercultural learner; and action research for special education teachers. Graduates from doctoral degree programs are qualified as experts in the field.
Prospective Jobs For Graduates With Special Education Degrees
Graduates who complete special education degree programs may advance to multiple career opportunities in the field. Most graduates gain employment as special education instructors or teachers within private or public school districts though employment is based upon education level, area of specialty, work experience and geographic location. Special education teachers work closely with their students’ parents, social workers, school counselors, occupational or physical therapists, other teachers, and school administrators to ensure the educational needs of students are met within inclusive programs. Some special education teachers work within their own classrooms with only special needs students.
Other special education teachers work within general education classrooms or within resource rooms. Special education teachers also work within hospital environments, private residences, preschools, or residential facilities as tutors. Graduates with associate degrees often work as assistants to special education teachers. Bachelor degree graduates who complete education programs and licensing requirements work as entry level special education teachers, instructional coordinators, or curriculum developers. Graduates with master’s degrees often work as secondary educators providing special education instruction, administrators within school systems, directors within residential facilities, or sometimes as instructors within vocational schools. Doctoral degree graduates are considered experts in the field and work as instructors or researchers within colleges, universities, or other facilities.
Salary Range For Graduates With Special Education Degrees
Graduates with special education degrees have earnings which vary and are based on several factors. Salaries for special education degree graduates are dependent upon level of education, organization of employment, geographic location, area/s of specialty, grade level, enrollment, and related work experience. Graduates who work within secondary schools generally earn $41,810 to $65,680 annually. Graduates who complete associate degree programs and are employed as special education assistants generally earn $17,610 to $28,180 annually. Entry level special education teachers who complete bachelor degree programs who work within preschool and elementary schools earn $40,480 to $63,500 annually. Graduates who work within middle schools earn $41,720 to $63,480 annually. Graduates with master’s degrees who work within secondary schools generally earn $41,810 to $65,680 annually. Graduates with doctoral degrees employed as college professors generally earn $41,600 to $83,960 annually. As with most occupations, graduates who complete advanced degrees, increase skills through continuing education programs, and gain work experience often have higher earnings than candidates with less education and experience.
Career Outlook and Advancement Opportunities For Special Education Degree Graduates
Graduates with special education degrees may expect plentiful and stable job opportunities due to an increasing demand for qualified special education professionals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics expects job growth for special education teachers to increase by 17 % through 2018 at a faster than average rate in comparison to other occupations. Despite a predicted slow growth in student enrollment within many schools, the number of special needs students is expected to increase the need for special education teachers. Many school districts have an increased number of special education teacher vacancies as educational improvements and governmental legislation focus upon educational reform, student performance, and improving training for individuals with disabilities. Graduates will find the best employment prospects within urban, inner city schools as well as rural school districts.
Population increases within regions of the South and West will also provide increased job opportunities for graduates with special education degrees. Additionally graduates who specialize training to offer instruction to children with multiple or severe disabilities and those who complete bilingual studies may expect increased employability. Many special education teachers begin employment as entry level instructors and advance to supervisory or administrative positions. Many continue studies in advanced degree programs to advance to instructor positions within colleges and universities. Some graduates advance to positions within private educational organizations as instructional coordinators, curriculum developers, and other positions. Some graduates leave the field to pursue alternative employment due to physical and emotional demands and occupational stress.