Teaching Individuals with Learning Disabilities

Special education teachers and special education teacher assistants work with students who have disabilities, including learning disabilities. Both of these careers are expected to see an increase in employment opportunities in the near future. Read on to get more information about special education teaching jobs.

Is Teaching Individuals with Learning Disabilities Right for Me?

Career Overview

In order to teach individuals with learning disabilities, you usually need to be a special education teacher or teacher assistant. In both of these careers, you work with individuals who have cognitive, emotional, behavioral and/or physical disabilities that impact their ability to learn. By providing them with assistance beyond the standard educational provisions, you can help them adapt to their environment and develop coping skills to make the learning process more manageable.

As a special education teacher, you are directly involved with planning the individual's learning goals, administering work that helps him or her accomplish those goals and assessing the individual's progress. Depending on the educational path you select, you might assist a variety of individuals with learning disabilities or you can focus on a particular type of disability, such as autism. As a teacher assistant, you would help a teacher by reinforcing lesson plans or providing additional supervision during class.

Employment Information

In May 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual wage for a special education teacher in a kindergarten or elementary school was $53,910, while those in high schools earned a median of $56,920. Teacher assistants earned $24,000 in that same year. The BLS indicates that special education teachers in general can expect to see a 6% growth in jobs from 2012-2022. The projections were highest for preschool, kindergarten and elementary than for middle school and high school special education teachers. For that same time period, a 9% growth in jobs for teacher assistants was projected.

How Can I Become a Teacher of Individuals with Learning Disabilities?

Education

While the requirements to become a teacher's assistant vary from state to state, the BLS indicates that you must have the minimum of a high school diploma. In some cases, you may need to earn an associate's degree. According to the BLS, many states require special education teacher assistants to pass a test.

Special education teachers are required to have a bachelor's degree, either in special education or the subject they teach with a special education minor. These programs typically include coursework in educational assessment, learning methods, specific subjects and specific disorders, such as autism. Student teaching is usually the capstone requirement. The BLS reports that some states eventually require special education teachers to earn a master's degree. If you are already a teacher, you may consider certification programs, some of which are offered online.

Licensing

Special education teachers will need to be licensed, also known as certification. Most states require a degree from an accredited school and a passing score on a certifying exam. Additional requirements may include a criminal background check and drug testing. Some states have licensing requirements for specific learning disabilities. Often, continuing education standards must be met to maintain licensure.

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