special education teacher with a masters degree reading a book to a child on her lap

Do You Need a Master's Degree in Special Education?

Special education is a very rewarding field that can land you a career you love. If you’re still in college or have been in the field for a few years, you may be wondering if a Master’s degree is the right choice for you. Here’s a look at the benefits of a master’s degree in special education and how it can change your career. 

Job Variety

Having a masters degree increases the variety of jobs you qualify for. While most teaching positions require only a bachelor’s degree, other positions in most districts require at least a masters if not a doctorate. First of all, if you have a bachelor’s degree in general education, getting a master’s degree in special education will allow you to move into that post. Additionally, many colleges also offer the potential to do research, allowing your whole field to benefit and learn more about special education needs. If your ultimate goal is to work in a college sharing your skills, knowledge, and experience with a new generation of special education teachers, you’ll definitely need to further your education. 

Another position requiring a higher degree is administrating or directing programs. School districts generally have an administrator or director for their special education program. In this position, you essentially make sure each program is functioning at maximum capacity and make sure parents, teachers, and students have the right resources and are communicating. Essentially, having a higher degree in special education allows you more opportunities to be a leader in the field than bachelor's degree does. 

Competition

Another great reason for getting a masters degree in special education is that it puts you a cut above the rest. Teaching can be a very competitive job market, which means you want to stand out. If the majority of applicants have only a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree shows that you are willing to go the extra distance, and that you have the creativity, organization, and drive to really succeed in a position. Even if you find a location where the job market isn’t competitive, having a master’s degree is likely to give an extra bonus on your paycheck. The salary difference in most schools between a bachelor’s and master’s degree is about $3,000-$4,000 a year, depending upon experience. Some schools will even help pay for the cost of getting the extra education. 

Specificity

A master’s degree in special education will also allow you to explore particular subject matter more intricately than a bachelor’s degree. While most bachelor’s programs provide an overall view and knowledge, master’s degree  programs offer specialization. Depending on your career goals and the population you want to work with, you might need that added specificity. For example, many programs offer the opportunity to become a reading specialist or concentrate on the autism spectrum. Having more in-depth knowledge makes you a better candidate for more specific jobs. 

Ultimately, you need to decide if you’re willing to devote the time and money it takes to get a master’s degree in special education based on your career goals and the kids you want to devote your time to.  

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