If you have a real passion to teach children who have mild to moderate disabilities, becoming a special education teacher might be right for you. Becoming a special education teacher will require you to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree, state licenses, and possibly acquire additional local qualifications. After you meet the educational requirements of your state and potential employer, you will be able to apply and pursue the position. Learning more about the specific requirements of this position can help you better plan your way forward and gain a position as a special education teacher.

Getting Your Education
Learn your state and employer requirements. Each state and employer will have their own specific requirements that you will need to meet. Although many states and employers share some requirements in common, there may be some important differences. Take some time and look into your these specific requirements when considering becoming a special education teacher.

Most states and employers will require you to have earned your bachelor’s degree.

Some states or employers only accept applicants that have obtained their master’s degree.

Your state may require you to earn additional certifications.
Earn your bachelor’s degree. To become a special education teacher you will need to have earned your bachelor’s degree. In some states, earning this four year degree is enough to qualify you for the position. Since all states require at least a bachelor’s degree, look into accredited colleges in your area that offer a special education teacher program.

It’s a good idea to enroll in a program that focuses on special education.

You may need to complete an internship or student teaching period during your studies.

Learn if a master’s degree is required. Some states or employers will require you to have earned your master’s degree in special education program. Even if your state or employer doesn’t hold this requirement, earning a master’s degree can help you stand out when applying for a position. Search for colleges near you that offer special education teacher programs at a Master’s level to get started.
Focus on specializations. The field of special education is a large one, offering many areas of specialization for you to choose from. Having a specialization in one area can give you an edge and help you deal with specific issues that you might encounter on the job. Take a look at some of the following areas of specialization to get a better idea of which you might want to pursue.

Learning disabilities

Autism spectrum disorders

Traumatic injuri

Emotional disturbances

Children with disabilities such as deafness, blindness, or multiple disabilities

Behavioral disorders

Speech problems

Intellectual disabilities


Cultivating Personal and Professional Skills

Stay organized. A big part of being a successful special education teacher is keeping organized. You may be required to teach multiple children and will need to keep track of what you are working on with each of them. Scheduling, time management, and personal organization will all help you to succeed in your career as a special education teacher.

Be able to connect with others easily. Working with disabled children will require you to easily understand a child’s needs. Many of the children you work with will likely have difficulty expressing their needs and may also have a tough time understanding your own needs of them. Being able to intuitively connect with your students will be a critical skill.

Stay current with technology. You may not always use technology directly when working with the students. However, other tasks such as sending emails, entering data, or working with educational software will all require you to stay current with your technological skills. If you aren’t up-to-date in this area, brushing up on what technology is currently used by special education teachers can be a good idea.

Be a good mentor. Most of your work as a special education teacher will involve directly working with children who have mild to moderate disabilities. Because of this, you will need to be a good mentor, teacher, and coach to help your students understand whatever it might be that you are working on.[14]


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