Special Education Teachers: General Teaching Requirements
Special education teachers are not like other teachers. Although they may need to hold the same certifications and obtain education in a similar way as a traditional teacher, those who provide special education services need to have a higher level of teaching ability, specific to these disabilities.
If you're considering becoming a special education teacher, it's very important to seek out appropriate licensing requirements, as defined within your particular state.
No Child Left Behind Act
Although the laws regarding teacher qualifications do change often, one particular federal law is important for all teachers to keep in mind.
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act specifically requires that special education teachers meet the highly qualified standard when it comes to providing children with an education. This law does not specifically list which requirements are necessary for the teacher to obtain, but it does require that all teachers be able to provide a higher quality of education for the student.
Special education teachers are required to work hand-in-hand with students with learning and physical difficulties. Most states provide specific laws that state that each and every child in the country is allowed and has the right to obtain education. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, children with disabilities must be provided with educational opportunities and this is where many of these special education teachers come into play.
Each state specifically determines what the requirements of these teachers will be. In most situations, special education teachers must have:
- A traditional education degree at least of the bachelor's level
- A focus in special education
- Often requires a higher degree in behavioral and psychological areas
In many situations, these teachers will have specific services. Many will have or will obtain master's degrees and doctoral degrees in special education in order to provide their skills.
The educational requirements start with a bachelor's degree, which usually contains an understanding of child development, educational psychology, and distinct skills specific to the type of disabilities the teacher will provide services for. These courses often include a variety of courses on disability education.
Once the student has obtained the necessary education from an accredited school, the second step in the process is to sit for the state board of education's teacher's exam. There is a specific exam, in most states, for special education students. Once you've met all of these requirements, you can then obtain your teaching certification or license. Again, each state is very different and it's important for you to take the time to determine what your state's requirements are, specifically.
To learn about special education teacher licensing and certification requirements, visit:
- The U.S. Department of Education's directory of States' Education Agencies
- The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook for Special Education Teachers (2010-11 Edition)
- The National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality's list of each State's Certification and Licensure Prerequisites
Keep in mind that often, each student has his or her own curriculum and specific education goals, which may be outside of the requirements of the actual standard student base. Special education teachers must be able to provide this level of education to students on a one-on-one level to ensure that the child is getting the best education possible.