How to Get Certified in Special Education

If you are interested in working with students who have special needs, you may be considering a career in special education. Although many states have an alternate route to certification for teaching special education, some do not. Follow these steps to become certified as a teacher of special education.

The first step to getting certified in special education is to get a bachelor’s degree, and then enroll in a teaching program. Once you have your teaching credentials, you can apply for a special education position and begin the certification process.

You’ll need to take the Praxis II Special Education: Core Knowledge and Mild to Moderate Applications exam, which is a computer-based test that covers topics such as basic principles of special education, assessment of students with disabilities, and more.

After you’ve taken the Praxis II exam and passed, you’ll be eligible to apply for a special education position in your state. In order to do so, you’ll need to contact your state’s Department of Education or Board of Education and fill out an application. When they’re ready to hire you as a certified educator, they will contact you with information on how to start the process.

The first step in becoming a special education teacher is getting your bachelor’s degree. The good news? You don’t need a specific major to enter the field—you could study anything from art history to accounting and still get certified as a special education teacher, as long as you fulfill your coursework requirements. In most states, this coursework will include a certain number of credits in both general education and specialized education classes. 

Look at the certification requirements of your state and choose a program that will meet those requirements. If you’re currently enrolled in college and are considering becoming a special educator, simply contact your college advisor and ask them which courses will count toward certification so that you can plan accordingly. If you’ve already graduated, though, don’t worry—there are plenty of options available.

Special education teachers help students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. Among the many types of special educators are those who teach students with autism, hearing impairments, emotional disturbances, learning disabilities, and intellectual disabilities. To work as a special education teacher in any state requires certification or licensure. The process for becoming certified varies from state to state.

In order to be certified in special education, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in the field, though some states require a master’s degree. Additionally, most states require that you spend some time completing supervised student teaching under the supervision of an experienced and licensed special education teacher. In addition to coursework and student teaching requirements, states may also require that you pass certain examinations before they will issue you a license or certificate to teach special education.

Most states require that teachers complete their student teaching while enrolled in an approved teacher preparation program. These programs can be found at traditional colleges and universities as well as online. Once you’ve completed your coursework and student teaching requirements—and have passed the exams required by your particular state—you’re ready to apply for certification or licensure as a special educator.

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