Do you love working with children, studied child development behavior and mental health, and want to make a real difference? Then you might want to consider pursuing a career in special education. Special educators play a crucial role by offering support to help students with special needs and disabilities access the curriculum.
But the question is: How do you become one? Here are the requirements and steps to follow, starting with your education.
1.Earn a special education degree
Before anything else, you must pursue a relevant bachelor’s degree related to special education. During this time, you’ll be studying evidence-based teaching practices while gaining hands-on training through student teaching experiences.
When you research special education programs, make sure you look into the program’s accreditation status. Some states would only allow an accredited special education degree when obtaining a teaching license.
2.Select your specialization
While earning your bachelor’s degree, you must pursue a field-of-study to build advanced skills in a specific area. There are specializations like elementary education, autism spectrum disorders, or gifted and talented education. Depending on what you choose, specializations might require further coursework or work experience.
3.Obtain state certification
After graduating and obtaining your bachelor’s degree, the next step is applying for state certification or licensure if you are interested in teaching at public schools. During this process, you need to provide documentation that shows your bachelor’s degree and student teaching experience.
Also, note that most states will require candidates to undergo a background check and pass generic examinations.
4. Begin searching for a special education teaching position
Once you have obtained your certification, the next and final step begins: Find a special education teaching position and become accepted! Here are helpful steps to follow to increase your chances at getting job offers:
· Before you begin applying, you must first ensure that your resume is in great condition. It must highlight all your relevant student teaching and work experience.
· For every position you interview for, attach a cover letter, personalizing it for the specific school you apply to. This shows the school you did some research, setting you apart from other candidates.
· Besides preparing your resume, you should also have a list of references to share with the interviewer. Consider listing your professors, mentor teachers, and previous employers, if any.
· Apply for multiple schools, not just one! You may not get accepted as your first choice and it’s best to have backup options.
· Practice for the interview! Make sure you showcase your achievements and demonstrate your passion as you do so. Find common interview questions you can rehearse with.
· During the interview itself, consider bringing a portfolio highlighting your achievements from your student teaching experience. This can include preparing sample lesson plans, student work, and other relevant things that helped your previous students meet IEP goals.
Wrapping It Up
Make sure you keep these steps in mind as you pursue a career in special education.