A rewarding career choice
There is currently a real shortage of qualified and reliable special education teachers and teachers' aides. An SE teacher will deal with children of a variety of ages and disabilities - some of the students will have learning disabilities, while others will possess behavioral or physical difficulties. These disabilities may be moderate or severe.
Special education is very individualized. Classes are small and the curriculum is tailored to the needs of each student. Each student is assessed and assigned goals based on their abilities and circumstances.
More Than Academics
SE teachers provide much more than academic learning for their students. School is often one of the main sources of socialization for these students, and the teachers are there to help guide them through the classroom dynamic. Special education classes are also often held in traditional schools, so the students are exposed to a variety of different abilities and skill levels throughout their education. Their teachers can help them to understand the individuality of each student and encourage them to work to their full potential.
A special education teacher is required to complete a Bachelor's Degree and specific teacher training. Some states have extra requirements for work with students with disabilities, so each position depends on local expectations. Some medical training may also be required.
There are a number of different situations that an SE teacher may work in:
- Individual tutoring (in a home or classroom setting)
- Assisting general education teachers with students with disabilities
- Small classroom settings (private or public)
- Residential facility schooling
Special education teachers may also organize and maintain extracurricular activities specific to their own students. This can include art and drama classes, as well as sporting events and social gatherings. Quite often students that require assistance will attend school year-round, which means their teachers may work longer hours than general educators.
While special education teachers may work longer hours than general education instructors, and they may have to deal with more strenuous and delicate situations, they're also on a higher pay scale. On average, you can expect to make in between $35 000 and $55 000 a year, compared to the sometimes mid $20 000 a year salary of a general educator.
Your salary will depend on the type of situation you're teaching in, the age and skill level of your students and also the point you've reached in your career. For example, at the high school level, some of the more experienced special education teachers can make more than $70 000 a year.