How Can I Get an Early Childhood Special Education Endorsement?
Would you like to work with small children with physical, emotional or cognitive impairments? Teaching very young children with particular needs requires specialized education and training. If you're dedicated to working within this teaching niche, pursuing the necessary training can lead you towards an endorsement.
Overview of Early Childhood Special Education
An endorsement is a qualification indicator on a teaching certificate showing in what area or areas you're eligible to teach, such as high school science. An early childhood special education endorsement allows you to teach children who have learning disabilities from infants to those who are eight years old. Endorsements are gained through completing the necessary education programs and state requirements. State requirements can vary, and education programs are diverse in both program and endorsement offerings.
Important Facts About This Occupation
|Median Salary (2018)||$55,840 (for special education teachers, preschool)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||11% growth (for special education teachers, preschool)|
|Key Skills||Communication skills, creativity, interpersonal skills, patience, physical stamina|
|Work Environment||Pre-schools, childcare centers, public and private schools, charitable organizations|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
If you're newly entering the field of teaching, several options exist for this specialized endorsement. Typically, you'll find that special education training is pursued at a graduate level; therefore, first you must gain a bachelor's degree such as a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood with Elementary Certification. This will allow you to become a certified teacher in early education. Five-year programs do exist in which you complete the early childhood teacher-training program and then go into the fifth-year master's coursework in special education.
Upon completion of a bachelor's degree program and teacher licensure, you can complete a graduate certificate or complete a master's degree to gain an add-on endorsement in special education. Some programs do exist at the master's level, which offer graduate coursework in early childhood special education, such as a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education with Early Childhood Special Education Specialist Endorsement. One of the requirements for entering an early childhood special education program might be an initial endorsement in early childhood education or as a learning behavior specialist.
Both bachelor's and master's level teacher education programs require you to complete an internship or field experience as part of the coursework. The duration of the internship or fieldwork depends on the program and state requirements. It may be as short as one semester or as long as a year, depending on your previous professional experience with early childhood or special education teaching.
States require taking and passing exams that test on subject comprehension and practicum knowledge learned through a teacher education degree program. State requirements do vary on tests needed to take, but the most widely used exams are the Praxis Series (http://www.ets.org).
The most commonly required exam needed for endorsement is the Special Education: Preschool/Early Childhood Education exam. Some states might also require you to take the Elementary Education: Content Knowledge exam. It's important to check the state in which you intend to teach to follow up on exact requirements for endorsement and licensure.