With a degree in special education, you can pursue any career that interests you. You might want to work with children or adults challenged mentally and physically due to their condition.
Moreover, any differently-abled student has the right to sit in a classroom and receive the same quality lessons as their peers. And that is where you come in with your degree in special education.
The skills you possess can empower neurodivergent pupils to develop, understand instructions, and progress through their academic journey. Whether you choose to be a teacher or work in administration, inclusive educational institutes need your assistance.
Your active listening, comprehension of different disabilities, and coordinating activities can help pupils flourish as learners.
In addition to helping students, there are several paths for you to choose within this career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this sector will face a 3% growth rate with more positions and exciting new subfields for you to discover.
So, if you are ready to build a successful profession for yourself. Here are some opportunities for you to consider:
- Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers work in preschools, elementary schools, and secondary schools. It is a highly technical subfield of special education. So it is recommended that you have a master’s degree before working one-on-one with disabled children. You will focus entirely on disabled students while catering to their needs. You can also explore online special education courses and get the relevant training, skills, and research to look after neurodivergent students better.
The ease and accessibility of online education have been a major driving force behind its increased adoption. For instance, autistic students need adjustments to help them learn within the classroom. These include avoiding playing music in the class, not seating them under fluorescent lighting, and using a mild tone to talk to them. As the academic year progresses, you will consistently need to update and develop individual education plans (IEPs) for their development.
You may also need to involve a school psychologist or a behavioral therapist to facilitate the child in some instances. Disabled children also have trouble transitioning from one classroom to the next. Unfamiliar spaces can cause a meltdown, so you need to prepare them for a change. This includes allowing the student to explore, visit and see different classrooms to feel comfortable in a new space.
- Educational Administrator
Disabled students need specialized curriculums, specifically trained teachers, and easy-to-do activities. As an educational administrator, you will be responsible for connecting these students to the necessary resources. Therefore, you will need to design lucrative curriculums, manage the school budget and understand how you can support learning disabilities. There are also specific laws your school district needs to follow while looking after children with different needs. It is best to get on top of the legal framework, so you don’t unintentionally violate them.
You also need to have exceptional soft skills such as open-ended communication, adherence to complete transparency, and deep comprehension of children’s learning limitations with developmental challenges.
As the work is quite demanding and puts you in a management position along with your master’s, a supervisory certificate in special education is also needed.
- Intervention Specialist
An intervention specialist is responsible for assisting disabled children in adjusting academically and socially within schools. Therefore, you will need to design, train and launch programs that can help disabled students learn. These will also include lessons catering to gender, age, disability, cultural background with various teaching methods such as visual learning immersed into every teacher’s plan.
Part of your specialization also includes working in proximity with teachers to create a support system for neurodivergent students. So make sure you become well-versed in the PBIS method. It is a type of positive behavioral reinforcement to deal with students who have trouble understanding social cues, use non-verbal ways to communicate their emotions. You may also need to provide counseling to students with mental health ailments, focusing on their condition, symptoms, and prognosis.
Since an intervention specialist involves providing intensive and individualized care to children, you may also need an intervention specialist license. Your educational qualification should include a masters in special education before you go for a license.
- Educational Diagnostician
Not every educational institute gets equipped to look after all types of disabilities. At the same time, there is a range of learning disabilities, some of which are manageable while others are not. Your job as an educational diagnostician is to determine the learning disability that a pupil may have and identify what kind of learning technique and curriculum is suitable for them. You will need to know about learning disabilities such as dyslexia, understand developmental delays including cerebral palsy, and have the skills to manage mental health conditions in students.
The profession requires you to work directly with parents and inform them about their child’s well-being. You may also conduct tests and assessments to generate a report analyzing the pupil and connecting them to adequate help. An example of a diagnosing test includes intelligence tests such as the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WIPPSI). During this assessment, you will gauge how much a student can memorize, comprehend and where they struggle to match concepts. Consequently, disabled students will get a chance to earn an education in an environment more suitable for their amplitude.
- Applied Behavior Analyst
A degree in special education will also give you opportunities beyond the classroom. As an applied behavior analyst, you will work with disabled students to improve their social life, focusing on their emotional and mental well-being. For instance, you may need to use therapeutic methods like Discrete Trial Training to work with a student individually. Suppose the student can follow instructions and give you the desired response. In that case, they will get rewarded for their behavior. This is ideal for pupils with autism.
Your work environment may include schools, residential treatment centers, and community-based agencies. But, since this is a highly specialized field, you need to get a special education degree and a certification in behavior analysis. It would also help to look into state requirements before applying for a license.
There are many ways you can reform education, one of which is pursuing a degree in special education. Students with disabilities may face difficulties in adjusting to traditional schools. Through your support, you can help students with developmental issues fit in classrooms and pick up new concepts. Career choices include becoming a special education teacher, an educational administrator, and an intervention specialist. These will involve working closely with the student, developing a robust syllabus, and providing the relevant training to other professional educators while ensuring students get their needs met.
As an educational diagnostician, you will identify the disability and connect students to appropriate and certified schools which can take care of them. Finally, as a behavioral analyst, your job will go beyond teaching and focus on building social and emotional understanding within the student. These careers collectively are necessary for taking a step towards inclusive education.