How to Become a Special Education Teacher in Ohio: Certification & Requirements

Special education teachers generally work with students who have mild to severe disabilities, or even gifted students, and will adapt education lessons accordingly. This article will focus on how someone can become a special education teacher in Ohio. Schools offering Emotional & Behavioral Disorders degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Teaching Special Education in Ohio

In the state of Ohio, special education teachers will seek an initial license, called the Resident Educator License, in the intervention specialist area. There are six different areas applicable to an intervention specialist. These are early childhood intervention specialist (PK-3), visually impaired (PK-12), hearing impaired (PK-12), mild/moderate (K-12), moderate/intensive, and gifted (K-12). The general requirements for obtaining an initial license are summarized in the table below.

Education Required Bachelor's degree with teacher preparation program
Exam Requirements OAE pedagogy assessment; OAE content assessments
Certification Period Four years
Requirements for Upgrade Resident Educator Summative Assessment
Average OH Salary for Special Education Teachers (2018)* $64,790 (preschool)
$56,180 (kindergarten and elementary school)
$59,940 (middle school)
$60,340 (high school)
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026)* 8% (special education teachers nationally)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

General Education Requirements

Candidates interested in a special education initial license must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university that offers an Ohio Department of Education approved educator preparation program. These programs typically include student teaching internships that allow students to gain classroom experience under a licensed teacher. For special education teachers, some schools offer a concentration in special education in the interventionist specialist area.

Exam Requirements

In order to be licensed in special education, the interested candidate must sit for several Ohio Assessment Exams (OAE). The first is a pedagogy assessment related to the grade level they wish to teach. They can select the early childhood level, PK 3, or the multi-age level, K-12. Candidates must also pass an OAE content exam in the area of special education they are seeking licensure. For example, someone interested in working with the hearing impaired must pass the Special Education Specialist: Deaf/Hard of Hearing exam. All special education teachers must pass an OAE Foundations of Reading assessment as part of the content exam as well.

Application Process

The application process is completed online through the Connected Ohio Records for Educators (CORE) system that can be found on the Ohio Department of Education website. When applying, candidates will select the area of special education they would like by entering the relevant teaching field code.

License Upgrade

The initial four-year Resident Educator License is not renewable and educators with this license must upgrade it to the five-year Professional Educator License. In order to do this, the educator must complete four years of the resident educator program as well as the Resident Educator Summative Assessment (RESA). The RESA requires educators to reflect on the decision-making processes involved in their instructional practices. The educator must take the RESA in the third year of the resident educator program and will be paired with a facilitator who will guide them through taking the assessment.

License Renewal

Once the educator has upgraded to the professional license, they can renew it every five years through the completion of six semester hours of coursework or 18 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) relevant to their area of licensure.

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