Special Education Degrees and Careers for Graduates

Obtaining a degree in special education will give you an opportunity to pursue a difficult, yet highly fulfilling career path. Your work may help special education students, which is why the emotional component and satisfaction of choosing this career path surpasses many other possibilities.

People who have a degree in special education can choose among a wide range of careers. From teachers to counselors and administrators – graduates have some flexibility when it comes to picking the perfect job.

Many schools have special education degrees. The options range from undergraduate to PhD programs. The career you plan to pursue in the future and the professional advancement you want to achieve will be determining for the highest degree that you’re going to pursue.

Needless to say, you should dedicate enough time and effort to identifying the right programs. Accreditation, the experience of the faculty and the quality of the curriculum will give you a better idea about the program. Specialization opportunities are also great because they’ll enable you to acquire niche skills that make you an in-demand job candidate.

Choosing a Special Education Degree

Regardless of the career that you’re interested in, you’ll have to obtain at least your undergraduate degree in special education. This degree is required for all teaching positions. Some more specialized educational fields may come with graduate degree requirements.

People who want to work as therapists and administrators typically have to work towards obtaining a graduate degree.

Some colleges prepare their students for obtaining their teaching license. Other programs require a teaching license before accepting students.

Choosing the right specialization will also be crucial. Many universities have several fields of specialization for students to choose from, such as early childhood special education, behavioral analysis, an autistic spectrum disorders specialization, emotional disturbance, visual impairment, special education strategy and many others.

Exams and Licenses for Special Ed Students

The job you want in the future and the state that you live in will determine which exams you’ll have to pass and the license you’ll be required to obtain. Some employment positions in the field of special education lack licensing requirements.

Depending on the state and the type of work you want to do, you may have to do all of the following before finding employment:

  • Pass a state exam
  • Obtain a higher degree of education (master’s or PhD)
  • Acquire a few years of professional experience

Careers in Special Education

We’ve already highlighted some of the career options that people having a degree in special education can pursue. Let’s take a better look at the jobs and what each one of them entails:

  • Special education teacher: teachers that have a degree in special education may work with children having an autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, speech-language disorders, sensory and development disabilities or severe disabilities.
  • Early special education teacher: these professionals work with pre-K to 12-year-olds. Working with infants and toddlers that have special education needs is one of the essentials for ensuring the proper development and integration of such children. The job is challenging but also highly rewarding.
  • Speech-language pathologist: also called speech therapists, these professionals assess, diagnose and treat speech-language disorders. Many of these professionals are employed in schools where they help with cognitive communication, language and fluency.
  • Art therapist, music therapist, physical therapist: the job of these professionals is to encourage behavioral changes and growth through the respective type of therapy.
  • School counselor: providing individuals and groups of students with educational counseling is the primary responsibility of this professional. School counselors usually evaluate the abilities, interests and challenges that students face. They help them come up with personal and academic development goals. Counselors can work with elementary and high school kids or they can specialize as vocational and rehabilitation counselors.

Directors and administrators for special education or exceptional student programs: these professionals have serious responsibilities because they oversee the introduction and the implementation of special education programs. Their main job is to ensure the quality of special education and to work with teachers and parents.