Online Degree Programs for Special Education

According to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE),more than 6.5 million children, from infants to youth, receive special education each year. That includes services that help with behavioral, emotional, physical, and mental disabilities. Special education teachers are highly trained specialists who work with children with special needs. The field requires at least a bachelor’s degree to practice. Through online degree programs special education teachers can learn teaching strategies geared toward working with students who have a wide range of mild to severe disabilities, such as learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities..

Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs for Special Education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), special education teachers in public schools are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree, in addition to a state-issued certification or license. Online bachelor degree programs may prepare students for any required credentials. They typically develop teaching skills and competencies required to meet the academic, social, and behavioral needs of children with special needs and youth as young as three and as old as 21. They may also have the opportunity to obtain hands-on experience through practicum and field experiences which are often required as part of the coursework. Upon completion graduates are prepared for careers as teachers in private or public schools,or special educators who provide direct services to children and youth with special needs. Because the field requires certification or licensure to practice, we recommend applying to accredited online degree programs to ensure you meet all eligibility requirements to take credentialing exams.

Online Master’s Degree Programs for Special Education

Certified teachers who don’t have any training or experience in special education could benefit from online masters degree programs in special education. These programs are typically geared towards teaching professionals who want to develop special education skills. Some teachers may also be required by their state to earn a master’s degree to practice, or they may enroll in a program to receive specialized training in certain disabilities, such as autism, or technologies for special education. During an online degree program students may also be required to conduct research, design special education programs, observe and practice supervised instruction, and complete a thesis or master’s paper in a specialized area. Students who know they want to pursue special education may benefit from online accelerated degree programs, wherein they can earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in a shorter period of time than it takes to earn both individually.

Online Doctoral Degree Programs for Special Education

Whereas online college degree programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels provide a foundation for teaching students with special needs, a doctoral degree in special education may prepare students for leadership roles in educational and clinical settings. For instance, they may go on to become professors, researchers, teacher educators, administrators, or policy makers at the local, state, or national level. There are two types of degrees you can earn depending on your career goals. A Doctor of Philosophy is a research degree so students may be trained to conduct academic research in university and other settings. A Doctor of Education, on the other hand, would prepare students for leadership roles in a variety of educational settings.

Online Degree Programs in Special Education in the Work Place

A degree in special education could lead to a job in research, policy, or, commonly, teaching. Special education teachers work in public, private, and religious schools with students of all ages. Special education teachers may also find work in childcare centers, hospitals, or in people’s homes working with infants and toddlers. The median annual wage of special education teachers was $53,220 in May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Jobs for special education teachers are expected to grow 17% from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS. That is even faster than the anticipated growth for some teaching positions, such as high school teachers. This growth is anticipated due to increasing enrollment, especially at the kindergarten, elementary, and middle school levels, and continued demand for special education. The BLS notes that there will be a greater need for special education teachers for young children, and job opportunities may be better in certain specialties, such as autism spectrum disorders or early childhood intervention. However, keep in mind that job availability and salary will depend on your prior education and work experience, employer, and location.