black and white photo of pencils lined up on a special education teacher's desk, with one pencil colored in red.

Jobs You Can Get With a Special Education Degree

Every college student wonders what their degree has actually bought them. Getting a degree in special education may seem like you are destined for a stereotypical classroom, but there are so many other things you can do in the special education field! Here’s a look at careers you can land with a special education degree. 

Teaching

Even if teaching is where you’re headed, there are many, many different places within a school you may find yourself. First of all, you have to decide what grade you want to teach. Will you work with little ones just starting school, or will you help kids with disabilities get ready to go off to college? Will you be a resource or inclusion teacher? Resource teachers work in their own classroom. Kids with special needs leave the regular classroom and work in a quieter, more specialized environment. Inclusion teachers work with teachers in the regular classroom to allow kids who can handle it to stay largely in the general population. 

Furthermore, you have to decide if you want to work with high incidence kids (learning, behavioral, and speech-language disabilities) or low incidence kids (kids with more pronounced needs). You can specialize in a range of disorders, such as kids on the autism spectrum or with behavioral/emotional disorders. 

Sharing Your Knowledge

If you don’t want to work with kids with disabilities forever, you may find that after a few years, your calling is helping future special education teachers learn to work with those kids. You can also offer your teaching skills to programs and organizations that provide workshops and lectures about special education. For that matter, many of these places publish informative pamphlets, videos, articles, and other works to educate the public, as well as families. Another option is a special education advocates work with the whole team (teacher, parent, student) to make sure everything is working out best for the student. 

Overseeing Programs

Special education programs don’t just run themselves. WIth a masters or doctorate in special education, you can be a director or administrator for school districts special education programs. In this position, you would be responsible for finding the right people for the job, making sure the education programs in the district and each school are doing their best to help their kids, and helping both teachers and parents of special education students find the resources they need to give students a future. 

Learning Disabilities Teaching Consultant

To be an LDT-C, you have to complete a special accreditation program—but the reward can be completely worth it. LDT-Cs work with school districts, diagnose students who need extra help, then plan that extra help for them. Through individualized education program (IEPs), you help create a plan for each student to maximize their learning experience. 

Alternative Tracks

Unfortunately, the reality of a college degree is that you sometimes you end up in a job you don’t want. You can often further your education in a different field by taking just a few prerequisites to enhance your original degree, and qualify yourself for a wider range of careers. 

It takes a lot of different people in a lot of different professions to help kids with special needs make it through school and into the workforce. Careers in speech pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and school counseling all require masters or doctoral degrees to practice—which means your special education bachelors degree may be perfect for getting you started in a different career that still does the things you love. 

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