Special Education Teachers (Age 3 to 10) Overview

Patience and organization are important traits of special education teachers dealing with children ages 3 to 10. They should also be accepting of differences, understanding of special needs and good motivators. Job prospects are expected to be excellent going forward as more students enroll in special education, as there’s also a shortage of qualified teachers. Special education teachers must be licensed in every state, which typically requires a bachelor’s degree and a special education teacher training program. However, some states do require a masters degree. College graduate with no education training can also become licensed in some states through an alternative program.

Nature of the Work for Special Education Teachers (Age 3 to 10)

Special Education Teachers (Age 3 to 10)

Special education teachers work with children who have a wide range of disabilities. Most provide remedial instruction to students who have mild to moderate disabilities, using or modifying general education lesson plans to meet each student’s needs and abilities. Some special education teachers though work with students who have severe emotional, physical or cognitive disabilities, teaching basic literacy and life skills.

A variety of disabilities may qualify for special education including traumatic brain injury, visual impairments, hearing impairments, combined deafness and blindness, orthopedic impairments, mental retardation, autism, emotional disturbance, specific learning disabilities or speech or language impairments. Early identification of a special education category can make a world of difference. Early intervention is essential when teaching kids with disabilities.

A variety of teaching techniques are used by special education teachers working with children ages 3 to 10. Small-group work, problem-solving assignments and intensive individualized instruction may all be used depending on student needs. They’re also responsible for helping with special accommodations needed for taking tests or learning general curriculum.

For each student, special education teachers must develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which sets personalized goals and tailors education plans to each student’s needs. The program may also include a plan for the transition into middle school. Special education teachers typically review the IEP with school administrators, teachers and parents who they work closely with, always providing progress reports and ideas for learning outside of school.

A day of work for special education teachers typically includes designing and teaching appropriate lesson plans, assign work geared toward each student’s specific situation and grading schoolwork. They’re also involved in the student’s behavioral and social development, helping them grow emotionally and to interact on a social level.

Schools are becoming more inclusive, so special education teachers often work closely with general education teachers in a general education classroom. They help teachers adapt curriculum and teaching techniques to accommodate special education students. They also coordinate therapists, social workers, teacher assistants and teachers together to help meet the needs of special education students.

Special education teachers work in many settings. Often, they have their own classrooms dedicated to special education, but they may also work in a general education classroom acting as a special education resource for students as needed, or they may teach side by side with a general education teacher in a mixed classroom. Alternately, some special education teachers work in a resource room for several hours a day. Working in hospitals, homes or residential facilities is rare.

Special education teachers are using technology more and more. Audiotapes, synthesized speech and interactive educational software programs all help them in their work.

Students with disabilities can be challenging, physically draining and emotionally demanding, which causes some to leave the career. That said, many special education teachers find the work highly rewarding and establish meaningful relationships. Stress due to heavy workloads and administrative tasks is common. However, new legislation aims to reduce the amount of paperwork needed to avoid the threat of litigation.

Most special education teachers working with children ages 3 to 10 work a 10-month school year, though some schools offer year round special education.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Special Education Teachers (Age 3 to 10)

Special education teachers working with preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school aged children must be licensed with a bachelor’s degree and the completion of a special education teacher training program. A masters degree is required in some states. For candidates lacking training in education, some states offer an alternative method of entry.

Special education programs are offered at my colleges and universities at the bachelor’s degree, masters degree and doctoral degree levels. More training is required for a special education teachers than a general education teacher. Most bachelor’s degree programs take 4 years and include special education courses. More and more schools are also requiring a fifth year or graduate-level preparation. Some programs include a specialization, and others provide only a general special education degree. Usually, the last year of teaching programs are spent in a classroom student teaching under a certified special education teacher.

In all states, the State board of education or a licensure advisory committee grants mandatory licenses. Some states look for a general education credential for special education teachers. These teachers later can train in a specialty such as behavioral disorders or learning disabilities. Some states license a variety of specialties within special education while others offer a broad license across a variety of special education categories.

Traditional licensing requires the completion of an approved teacher training programs with a certain number of subject and education requirements as well as a bachelor’s degree and supervised student teaching. Some states also require a masters degree in special education - another year or more of additional coursework and a specialization. For teachers who may work in multiple states, some states have transfer agreements, but other require them to pass a new exam.

For those who don’t fulfill the traditional standards, most states offer an alternative licensing plan to attractive more teachers. Usually, candidates need a bachelor’s degree, though some are tailored to recent college graduates or professionals in other fields. Typically, these programs also require a preparation through a partner college or university as well as the passing of an assessment test while student teaching for 1 to 2 years.

Patience, organization skills, the ability to motivate, an understanding of special needs and the acceptance of other’s differences are all a must for special education teachers. They must be creative in thinking about different types of teaching methods to try when learning is difficult. Cooperation and communication skills are also important for special education teachers who spend a lot of time interacting with parents, students, administrators and school faculty.

Some special education teachers advance to supervisory rolls or become administrators. With an advanced degree they may work as instructors in colleges training others to work in special education. Some schools look for highly experienced teachers to mentor less experienced ones.

Top 10 Most Popular [/colleges/major/45CFFBF3/Special-Needs-Education/94FD8F2D/Special-Education-and-Teaching/ Special Education and Teaching Schools

1. Touro College, New York (New York, New York)
2. Grand Canyon University (Multiple Campus Locations)
3. Saint Josephs College, Long Island (Patchogue, New York)
4. California State University, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California)
5. Illinois State University (Normal, Illinois)
6. George Mason University (Fairfax, Virginia)
7. New Jersey City University (Jersey City, New Jersey)
8. Grand Valley State University (Allendale, Michigan)
9. Dowling College (Oakdale, New York)
10. Dowling College (Dekalb, Illinois)

See All Special Education and Teaching Schools

Most Popular Online Special Education and Teaching Schools

1. Saint Leo University Online
2. University of Phoenix - Online School
3. Walden University - Online School
4. University of Florida - Online School
5. Capella University - Online School
6. Winston-Salem State University - Online School
7. Grand Canyon University
8. Western Governors University

Employment and Job Outlook for Special Education Teachers (Age 3 to 10)

Number of People in Profession


Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to grow faster than average (increase 14 - 19%).

Employment for special education teachers working with preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school children is projected to grow faster than average in comparison to other occupations. Excellent job prospects are expected as many schools say finding qualified special education teachers is a challenge.

Over the next decade, the number of special education teachers should grow by about 17 percent. Student enrollments will slow, but special education enrollments will increase creating a greater demand for special education teachers working with students ages 3 to 10 years old.

The number of special education students has grown, in part, to the ability to diagnose these learning disabilities earlier, including foreign-born students. Parents are also seeking ways to help their children meet the new, higher standards required of students. Legislation now emphasizes the importance of training and employment for individuals with disabilities and that coupled with educational reforms also increases the need for special education teachers.

In addition to job openings resulting from growth, many jobs will arise due to special education teachers who transfer to general education, other careers or retire. And because school districts are reportedly having trouble finding qualified applicants, the job outlook for special education teachers is excellent.

Location and specialty does affect the job outlook. Fewer positions will be available in suburban and wealthy urban areas, while inner cities and rural areas will have more openings. As certain parts of the country see an increase in student populations, such as the South and West, those areas will also have a greater demand for special education teachers. Certain specialties such as severe autism or students with multiple disabilities may be more favorable as enrollments in these categories have jumped. New laws have been introduced to encourage early intervention and special education for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, which has created a greater need for special education teachers. Bilingual skills will also put teachers at an advantage for teaching a more diverse student population.

Earnings and Salary for Special Education Teachers (Age 3 to 10)

Median annual wages of special education teachers working in preschools, kindergartens and elementary schools were $50,950. The highest 10 percent earned above $79,850, the lowest 10 percent earned under $34,010 and the middle 50 percent earned between $41,210 and $64,350.

About 64 percent of these special education teachers were covered by union contracts or a member of a union. Most schools, provided extra pay to teachers who coach sports, lead extracurricular activities or work in the summer.

Annual Salary for Special Education Teachers (Age 3 to 10)

On average, Special Education Teachers (Age 3 to 10) earn $50,950 per year.

10% 25% 75% 90% $34,010/yr $41,210/yr $64,350/yr $79,850/yr

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook