The growing awareness regarding special needs has changed the American education system over the last few years. From elementary schools to colleges and universities, institutions at all levels are keen to embrace students with special needs. They also have educators with relevant skills on board to cater to the needs of these students.
According to data, students with disabilities made up 15% of national public school enrollment in the 2021-22 academic session. The population of these students has grown in number over the last few decades. Consequently, the demand for special educators is on the rise in the country.
Statistics show that 36,792 degrees were awarded in the field in 2021, an increase of 10.7%. Pursuing a special education degree opens up lucrative opportunities, both from income and growth perspectives. Even better, you have more career options than you imagine.
We will help you discover the diverse career choices you can pursue after obtaining a degree in special education.
Special Education Teacher
Perhaps the most obvious career route after this degree is that of a special education teacher. In this role, professionals work with students with a wide range of learning, emotional, mental, and physical disabilities. Early childhood special education positions require professionals to have formal qualifications in this field rather than generic teacher training.
A master’s degree prepares educators to create and implement individualized education plans (IEPs) for each child. They can also collaborate with parents and provide the necessary support to help students with disabilities thrive academically, personally, and socially. As a special education teacher, you can earn an average annual salary of $59802 in the United States.
You may not want to work directly with children with special needs in classroom settings. However, you can still make a difference in their lives by working as an educational consultant with a special education background. In this role, you can provide expertise to schools, organizations, and districts and offer guidance on implementing inclusive education practices.
Additionally, you may assess and improve special education programs, create and offer professional development plans for educators, and advocate for inclusive policies. The salary statistics in this role are impressive, with an average of $67362 per year.
You also get the satisfaction of doing your bit to shape environments to match the needs of learners with disabilities.
Another career field aligning with a special education background is speech-language pathology. A speech-language pathologist assesses, diagnoses, and treats communication disorders. You can pursue this career by specializing in working with students having speech and language impairments.
The role involves helping them develop effective communication skills to overcome academic and social challenges.
Besides working in schools, you may find employment opportunities in hospitals or nursing and residential care facilities. The median annual wage for these professionals in 2022 was $84,140, while employment in the field is projected to grow 19% from 2022 to 2032, significantly faster than other occupations.
If human behavior intrigues you, consider training as a behavior analyst after completing a special education degree. In this career field, you can focus on understanding and modifying behavior in individuals. You may work with people struggling with behavioral challenges, such as autism spectrum disorders and attention deficit disorders.
The role entails assessing behavior and creating intervention strategies. Additionally, behavior analysts collaborate with other professionals to design a comprehensive approach to support patients in improving their behavior and enhancing overall quality of life. A board-certified behavior analyst makes an average salary of $80790 per year in the United States.
Adaptive Technology Specialist
Adaptive technology specialists can explore a winning career opportunity combining technology with special education. As a professional, you create technology solutions to ensure that students with special needs have equal access to educational opportunities as their counterparts. It makes for a rewarding and lucrative career.
Your role will include assessing the technology needs of students with disabilities and recommending adaptive tools to address them. You may also work as a trainer for educators and students to help them effectively use these technologies. The average salary of an adaptive technology specialist in the US is $57,160.
In conclusion, a special education degree enables you to explore careers beyond the education settings. You can follow your passion and find several meaningful and impactful career options beyond traditional roles.
The journey is rewarding, whether you work directly with students in a classroom setting or influence academic practices on a broader scale. You can make a difference for people with diverse learning needs.