Careers in Special Education

Careers in Special Education

After exploring your options, you may be thinking about a career in special education. You are probably now wondering how you might find out more information about potential jobs in this field. You have read some general information about careers in special education, but now you want to know the good stuff: How much does it pay? What is a typical day like for a special education teacher? How long do I have to be in school? By visiting the links listed on this page, you will be able to access much of the information you are seeking—and more! You will see average salaries per state for special educators, you will get to know more about what special educators do, and you will get to explore college and university programs for degrees in special education. So, read on and explore the sites listed for answers to all of your questions. If you still have questions after doing some research, the special education teachers in your school are perfect resources and are likely more than willing to help you in your journey.

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is the leading national professional organization in special education. The CEC has received money from the United States Department of Education to create a web site dedicated specifically to recruiting people into the important field of special education. This resource, called the National Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education (NCPSE), has a great deal of information about all careers associated with special education, as well as resources for school administrators and college faculty involved in teacher recruitment. On this page, we want to focus specifically on teachers and paraprofessionals, or para educators, through the links on the CEC’s careers webpage.

If you haven’t done so already, click on the Career Choices in the special education link. Visit each of the links on the page and answer the questions listed below with at least one paragraph:

  • Click on the Job Profiles link and explore the various career choices.
    • What are some of the differences between special education teachers and other support services (like paraeducators)?
  • Is Special Education the career for me? Visit the Educational Requirements page and explore what is necessary for the various positions.
    • What is meant by the term “highly qualified” teacher, and why is this important to special education?

Now that you have reviewed the Careers in Special Education site, answer the following questions with a few sentences each.
  • What new information did you learn about para educators (also known as teacher assistants)?
  • What is the average salary of special education teachers in Kentucky? What about in other states that interest you?
  • What does the job market for special education teachers look like over the next ten years or so?
  • Why do people become special education teachers?

The National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities is the national information and referral center that provides information on disabilities and disability-related issues for families, educators, and other professionals. It has developed a report entitled “Who's Teaching Our Children with Disabilities?” that provides an overview of special education as a career.

Read the Council for Exceptional Children’s Definition of a Well-Prepared Special Education Teacher. After reading, answer these questions with a few sentences each.
  • Did you learn anything new about what special education teachers do and the standards required of them?
  • Choose one standard to focus on. Why is this standard in particular important in supporting students with special needs?
  • What other traits can you think of that would be important for a special education teacher to have?

Now that you know more about special education as a career, you may want find out more about some of the college programs that prepare special education teachers here in Kentucky under our College Preparation tab. Our College Preparation tab has everything you need to take the next step.