Teaching Individuals with Hearing Impairments

Read on to discover more about a career teaching individuals with hearing impairments. Explore career description details in addition to education requirements, certification paths and occupational outlook.

Is Teaching Individuals with Hearing Impairments for Me?

Career Overview

Teachers of students with hearing impairments are classified as special education teachers. In this field, you might work in a residential school for the deaf, teaching sign language and other academic subjects to a class of children with hearing impairments. Your job could also be as part of a team in a mainstreamed setting, adapting lessons for and working with individual hearing-impaired students. In any context, you're likely to work with an interdisciplinary team of teachers, psychologists, social workers and administrators as you seek to educate hearing-impaired students.

Job Requirements

As a teacher of hearing-impaired students, you'll need to be patient, creative and highly detail-oriented. You'll want to be aware that this job requires a great deal of documentation, for both assessment purposes and to certify that your school district is providing an adequate education to its students. Some special education teachers work in year-round programs, but most have a 10-month contract.

Employment Outlook and Salary Figures

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2012, there were 442,800 special education teachers employed in the U.S., with almost all working in public and private schools (www.bls.gov). Job opportunities for special education teachers are expected to grow by 6% between 2012 and 2022. This is due in part to improvements in early diagnosis of learning disabilities. The BLS also reported that in May 2013, special education teachers at the elementary level earned a median salary of $53,910, with median salaries of $56,300 for middle school teachers and $56,920 for high school teachers.

How Can I Work as a Teacher of the Hearing Impaired?

Education and Certification

There are a couple of paths to teaching special education. The traditional route involves earning a degree, with certification to teach grades K-12 and a special education endorsement for teaching the hearing impaired. During the course of your degree program, you'll take special education classes in American Sign Language, literacy, phonetics, hearing science and audiology. Other training includes student assessment, educational psychology and a teaching practicum. You'll also learn to teach speech and reading with an emphasis on teaching the deaf and hard of hearing.

Some states require a 5-year degree that incorporates graduate-level coursework, allowing you to graduate with both a bachelor's and a master's degree. In both 4-year and 5-year programs, you must pass a skills proficiency test to become certified; virtually all states have reciprocity agreements for certification.

Certificate Programs

Most states offer an alternate certification path for becoming a special education teacher. If you already have a bachelor's degree, you may be able to apply for a teaching job and receive further training while working. Usually, this arrangement includes becoming certified to teach within a specified period time after starting work. You must also pass a proficiency exam and be overseen by a mentoring teacher for a year or two.

Graduate Study Options

Graduate level degrees in special education are widely available. Earning a doctoral degree in special education with a specialization in hearing-impairments prepares you to move into leadership positions within your school district or to become a college professor.

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