Working with students is a highly rewarding career. Given that teaching is not one of the highest paying professions, most teachers pursue a career in education because they sincerely care about their students and seeing them progress. Special education teachers have a unique role in working with children who have learning disabilities. For current special education teachers, there are still great reasons to pursue a special education master’s degree even in the tough economy.
1. Specialization. Each child with special needs is different, and there are a variety of causes for a special needs diagnosis. Depending on where a special education teacher is placed, the school population may have specific needs. Some special education master’s degree programs allow teachers to specialize in working with a specific student population. Specializations focus on areas such as autism spectrum disorders, deaf and hard of hearing, or curriculum development will better prepare teachers to work with a particular population.
2. Better job placement. In some cases, employers consider a special education master’s degree an indication of seniority in the profession, and may value this education over years of experience. Teachers with a master’s degree have undergone extensive education to better know and serve the student population that they work with. Master’s degree programs often require supervised learning experiences in addition to extensive training in research and effective methods. In this tough economy, a special education master’s degree may be the extra edge necessary to secure a position.
3. Increased pay. Many special education teachers work in public school districts. In such settings, the payment and earning potential is strictly determined according to preset criteria. Holding a special education master’s degree or the number of academic credits that a teacher has pursued in special education are common criteria on the pay scale. A teacher with a special education master’s degree automatically increases their earning potential. For teachers who already possess years of experience, a master’s degree in special education may also increase the amount of earnings.
4. Professional Development. As with most educational fields, there are developments that grow and change over the years. Students who earn a special education master’s degree gain increased knowledge on how to best serve the student population with which they work. Continuing education is important in every field, but particularly in special education in which policies and practice do change according to the current political situation and leadership. Professional development in education is essential to maintaining an effective classroom and staying up to date with the latest educational methods.
5. Degree in another field. Due to the teacher shortage, some teachers with special education or training work with special education students, despite not having the certification to do so. Obtaining a special education masters can be a fast track both to earning certification and an advanced degree. Many schools offer accelerated programs, which allow a person with an undergraduate degree in a field other than special education to advance their studies to the graduate level.
For special education professionals considering a special education master’s degree, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Special education teachers with a master’s degree are better prepared to work with their target population, have better chances obtaining a position and also earning a better salary.
Image: 'Reading Aloud to Children'