High School Special Education Teachers
Schools and Education
|Recommended Degree Level||Bachelor|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||133,080|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||3.6%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||5,110|
- You must have at least a bachelor's degree in education or a related field.
- Many schools also offer a master's degree in special education, which can be helpful in pursuing this career.
What you study:
Most special ed teachers will study all of the following while in college:
- Child Development
- Special Education Pedagogy
- Physical Education for Special Needs Students
- Diagnostics, Assessment and Progress Tracking
- Physiology and Biology
- Inclusive Classroom Practices
Depending on the specialization you choose within special education, you may also take additional courses. For example, teachers who want to work with emotionally disturbed teens will take psychology and classroom management courses designed to help them understand and work with those students.
Introduces the high school special ed career. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.
A Day in the Life
As a high school special education teacher, you will hold an important role in the lives of children with mental, physical and emotional disabilities. On most days, you will get to your classroom 20 to 30 minutes before your students arrive. High school special education teachers either teach in their own classrooms or work alongside other teachers in mainstream classrooms. The type of classroom you will work in depends upon whether you work with moderately or severely disabled students. Many moderately disabled students attend mainstream classes. You will attend classes with these students and give them support throughout the day.
Most special ed students need personalized assistance to complete their learning activities. You will help students learn and review skills. You will also work with other teachers to ensure that the homework given to your students is a good fit for their skill level. If you work with severely disabled students, you will teach them basic skills. If you work in a classroom with teens who have severe physical handicaps, you will be responsible for helping the students eat and use the bathroom. You will monitor the wellbeing of your students and will network with their medical providers in order to provide the best care possible for them while they are at school.
At the end of every school day, you will review the day's activities with your students and will remind them of any homework that they need to complete. After your students have left, you will communicate any concerns that you have about their homework or classwork to their other teachers. When you work as a special ed teacher, you are likely to interact with the parents of your students on a regular basis. You may be required to formulate an individual education plan (IEP) for each student. Before you implement the IEP, you will have a conference with the student's parents, counselors, other teachers and school administrators to ensure that everyone is on board with the education plan. You will also do your best to explain this plan to your student.
Certifications and Licensing
All special education teachers must hold a state-issued credential. Credentialing requirements vary from state to state. However, most states require special ed teachers to complete an M.A. degree and semester of student teaching. Teachers must submit to a background check in order to become credentialed.
Full-time versus part-time:
Special ed teachers keep regular school hours. For most teachers, this means that the school day begins around 8 a.m. and ends around 3 p.m. Some teachers may also work in after-school programs.
While special ed teachers do most of their work on school campuses, you may have the opportunity to attend conferences with other educators.
Here are several sites that offer a wealth of information about a career as a special education teacher:
- The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Handbook: This site provides an excellent overview of the career opportunities for and salaries earned by special education teachers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics presents information about special ed teachers at all grade levels in this handbook, so it's important to consult other sites that can provide specific information about teaching at the high school level.
- The National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET): The NASET website provides a wide variety of information about careers in special education, ranging from information about the training needed to become a special ed teacher to a job search board. Association publications and special ed news can also be viewed on this site.
- The International Association of Special Education (IASE): This organization provides information about global special ed issues. The website is also used to promote IASE's scholarships, annual conference and volunteer opportunities. This website is a great find for teaching students who want to get hands-on experience in classrooms while traveling the globe.
- Council for Exceptional Children (CEC): This organization provides teaching resources, information about credentialing and up-to-date research on children with special needs. It is especially useful for student teachers and new teachers.