Special Education Career Profile: Behavior Specialist

 

Special Education Career Profile: Behavior Specialist

There are many options in the field of special education. Often, it is thought that being in the education field means you are in a classroom.   But what if you don’t want to be in a classroom setting, but still want to be a powerful influence in the lives of students who may struggle? If you enjoy analyzing behaviors and creating interventions to effect a positive change, a Behavior Specialist may be the job for you.

Where Do Behavior Specialists Work?

Behavioral Specialists can work in a client’s home. He or she can also work in a clinical setting like a hospital, or be in private practice or a part of a group practice. A Behavioral Specialist can also work for a school or a school district visiting a different school each day. 

Who Do Behavior Specialists Work With?

They work with individuals who have disabilities, such as Autism, emotional disorders, or ADHD, that can affect learning or social skills. They can work with a wide range of ages from early childhood to elderly, depending on the setting.

What Do They Do? 

In the educational field, a Behavior Specialist usually has multiple schools they oversee, ranging from Pre-K to 12th grade. They are deemed with the task of observing a child with behavior problems in a classroom. They are looking for antecedent behaviors, patterns of behaviors, and the “problem” behaviors. 

The Behavior Specialist may conduct behavioral evaluations, and then will write up a plan and offer suggestions to the classroom teacher on he or she can do differently to help the child. The Behavior Specialist will also collect data and monitor the student over a period of time.

Since the Behavior Specialist is not in the classroom each and every school day, one of their jobs includes offering support to the classroom teacher. The Behavior Specialist can provide training in behavioral techniques and strategies to the classroom teacher to implement the behavior plan.

Check out Saint Joseph’s University: A One-Stop Center for Autism Support.

What Type of Education Does Someone Need to Become a Behavior Specialist?

A degree is required to become a Behavior Specialist. An undergraduate degree may be obtained in psychology, sociology, human services, special education, or behavioral science. Some employers may prefer a master’s degree.

Depending on the state and your position, a license may be required as well.

There is an additional certification for the Behavior Specialists, which is called Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA). To obtain this certification, you must have a master’s degree, several hundred hours of practicum, and pass an exam. While this is an intense and time-consuming certification, BCBA is a growing field with many job opportunities.

Behavior Specialist Salary Info

The national average salary of a Behavior Specialist is $39,604. However, this can vary greatly depending on the setting and location.

If you have BCBA certification the average salary is $58,615-a remarkable increase.

Other Resources:

Top Special Education Degree Specializations to Consider in 2018

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Top Special Education Degree Specializations to Consider in 2018

If you are passionate for changing the lives of children and young adults and have a gift for teaching students with specific needs, enhancing your skillset by choosing an area of specialization in the field of special education can provide unique benefits and make you more marketable in today’s workforce.

Here’s some guidelines to help you figure out exactly what it takes to earn your special education degree and explore some of the possible special education degree specializations that you should consider in 2018.

In Demand Special Education Degree Specializations

The demand for special education teachers has surged across the United States as a Master’s degree in Special Education is currently ranked 6th in popularity of the 50 most popular online master’s degree programs.  Below are several specializations gaining increased interest for students wanting to concentrate their talents for students with specialized needs. 

While most master’s program do not require students to select an area of specialization, there are significant benefits to doing so. Specializing your education not only makes you more valuable — it also makes the education you provide to students and clients more valuable. 

Here are several specializations that have especially gained popularity for students beginning their degrees in 2017 & 2018:

special education specializations to consider in 2018Mild/Moderate Disabilities

This specialization prepares you to effectively teach students with varying exceptionalities to include, autism spectrum disorders, emotional and behavioral difficulties, specific learning and language impairments, traumatic brain injuries, and orthopedic and other health impairments.

Coursework will likely include:

  • Curriculum, Assessment and differentiated instructional practices
  • Language Development
  • Research based practices in Math and English Language Arts
  • Behavioral, Social and Communication disorders
  • Classroom Management

Typical program of studies for mild/moderate disabilities range from 30-40 required hours of credits once an elementary or secondary teaching certification is obtained. This specialization applies to students in Kindergarten through 12th grade, up to the age of 22.

The core curriculum of the online MSEd in Special Education from Purdue University focuses on mild intervention for high-incidence conditions to  intense intervention. The program offers several options to meet your career needs.

Deaf or Hard Of Hearing

The DHH specialization qualifies general education teachers, special education teachers, speech pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, and sign language interpreters to work with students with varying levels of hearing loss. Coursework can take up to 2 years to complete for you to gain competencies that will help support the learning and development of pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students.

Topics in coursework will likely include:

  • Differentiated Curriculum and Instruction
  • Language Acquisition and Literacy Development
  • Sign language systems in Education
  • Adaptive and Assistive Technology

Saint Joseph’s University’s online Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing PK-12  program of study uniquely prepares students in the latest technology to facilitate engaging learning experiences, as well as plan specialized curriculum, effectively manage a classroom, and provide opportunities to enhance sign language interpretation skills. The last course in Saint Joseph’s University program involves field experience comprised of a 14-week student teaching assignment intended to immerse you in the deaf or hard of hearing teaching experience.

Early Childhood Special Education

You’ll assist children with both mild/moderate and severe emotional or learning difficulties. You’ll also learn how to teach children who have suffered brain injuries/damage.

However, unlike the other areas, you’ll only be able to teach children from birth to pre-kindergarten.

Throughout your coursework, you’ll study several forms of developmental psychology, learn how to assess different needs and disorders, and even learn how to arrange your classroom so that it can best benefit your students.

You’ll likely also spend a lot of time learning the basics of child psychology, and undergo on-the-job training so that you can handle emergency health situations and behavioral issues in the classroom.

The online Master’s Degree in Special Education from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota focuses on developing the ability of students to:

  • Create an inclusive environment in a mainstream classroom, allowing each student to learn to their full potential
  • Reach students across all levels and types of disabilities by developing understanding of various student backgrounds and disabilities
  • Every course touches upon intercultural competence

Blindness/Visual Impairments

Coursework in this specialization will prepare you with the skills and knowledge to effectively address the unique educational needs of students with visual impairments or blindness. Candidates take core courses in general education, special education and specialization courses in visual impairments.   

Specifically, teaching balance, sensory/spatial awareness, as well as body awareness are key life skills in addition to teaching students how to read and write in Braille.

Knowledge of specialized equipment and interactive software programs enhance the learning experience and compensatory skill development for students with visual impairments.

Course topics include:

  • Literary Braille
  • Communication Systems Used by Persons with Visual Impairments
  • Instructional Systems for Utilization of Low Vision
  • Assistive and Adaptive Technology
  • Orientation and Mobility

Applied Behavior Analysis

If your interest lies in how to better understand human behavior to help people achieve their maximum potential, then obtaining this next certification will prove beneficial. The field of Applied Behavior Analysis has an expected growth rate of 33% by 2020. Hence, the expertise of ABA specialists is critically in demand of social service organizations, public education programs, non-profits, and other industries where understanding and improving human behavior are crucial.  

Saint Joseph’s University offers an online Applied Behavior Analysis Concentration that prepares individuals to address the demands of challenging behaviors seen in Special Education settings. The courses are intended to prepare students for the BCBA certification exam.

The assessment of individuals with behavioral challenges, developing behavior intervention plans, and studying the environmental impact on behavior are among the skills learned.

Coursework will likely include:

  • Behavioral Development
  • Clinical Behavioral Analysis
  • Ethical Principles in Behavioral Analysis

Graduates of a certificate in applied behavior analysis are prepared for positions such as behavior specialists, criminal justice professionals, human services professionals, and substance abuse counselors.

Occupational Therapy

Every state has different standards for credentialing the role of an Occupational Therapist — but across all of them, a master’s degree is the minimum requirement for entry to the field. In school environments, occupational therapists are part of ESE Support Services that work with students to assist in all types of activities from caring for daily needs to using a computer or participating in physical exercises to increase strength and dexterity.

Employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

 

Coursework will likely include:

  • Theoretical Basis of Occupational Therapy
  • Assessment of Patients
  • Design and Implementation of Therapy Plans
  • Applicable Laws and Standards of Professional Ethics
  • Supervised Clinical Experience

The median annual Occupational Therapist salary is $83,901, as of January 30, 2018, with a range usually between $76,854$91,415, however this can vary widely depending on a variety of factors (including geography).

Licensing requirements by state vary, but typically require candidates to graduate from an accredited program in occupational therapy and pass examinations. Certification is optional but desirable, and is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

How Much Can You Expect To Earn?

happy female graduateWhile salaries vary county-to-county and state-to-state, here is a quick breakdown of the (national) median annual special education salaries across different tracks now:

  • Preschool Special Ed Teachers: Roughly $50,000
  • Elementary Special Ed Teachers: Roughly $50,000
  • Middle School Special Ed Teachers: Roughly $53,000
  • High School Special Ed Teachers: Roughly $55,000

Find An Online Master’s in Special Education Degree That’s Right For You

These in demand special education degree concentrations allow you to gain the knowledge and expertise in helping students with varying exceptionalities who may learn differently and respond to approaches other than conventional methods of teaching. Click here to find a special education program or use our job finder board to connect with the right opportunity for you.

 

 

 
 
 
 

Special Education Career Profile: Teacher of the Deaf

Teaching in the field of special education can give you a variety of career options. You can choose age/grade level, type of disability, or even the type of program you teach in. Being a teacher of the deaf can be a very rewarding, yet challenging, career choice.

What Does A Teacher of the Deaf Do?

The role of the teacher of the deaf can vary depending on the setting. According to American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Council on Education of the Deaf (CED), the teacher’s role is to:

  • Establish a classroom or other learning environment to meet the physical, cognitive, cultural, linguistic, and communicative needs of the child;
  • Plan and utilize strategies, appropriate materials, and resources for implementing educational experiences that support the development of communicative competence;
  • Provide consistent comprehensible language(s) appropriate to the needs of the child regardless of the modality or form;
  • Apply first and second language teaching strategies to teaching English (e.g., through ASL appropriate to the needs of the child and consistent with the program philosophy);
  • Facilitate and support communication among deaf and hard of hearing children and adults, hearing children and adults, including family/caregivers;
  • Monitor and evaluate the child’s communicative competence on a regular basis in academic and nonacademic contexts including the child’s use of signs, cues, speech, and/or assistive technologies;
  • Provide instruction and/or support for effective use of communication supports such as interpreting, transliteration, note-taking, real-time captioning, telecommunications, and computing.

Teacher of the Deaf Responsibilities, Knowledge and Skills

As a teacher of the deaf, you should have a working knowledge of hearing aids, cochlear implants, FM equipment, as well as understand and be able to interpret audiograms. You may have to share this information with school staff members or families. You may also have to and supervise paraprofessionals and sign language interpreters.

As with any special education teacher, you will have to develop and maintain compliant IEP‘s as well as assess students in the areas of academics, language, and communication.

Where Teachers of the Deaf Work

Young elementary school student signing the letter I for the class.There are a few educational options to where a teacher of the deaf can teach. All fifty states have schools for the deaf, as well as District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Students with hearing loss may also attend public schools. In areas where there is a high population of deaf students, there may be center schools for the deaf. Students are bussed in from several areas to one specific school.

A teacher of the deaf may either provide instruction and support in a separate class or as a resource teacher in a general education or special education classroom.

Deaf students may also attend their neighborhood school. If this is the case, the student may be the only deaf student at the school. Here, an itinerant teacher may be utilized. Itinerant teachers generally cover several schools in an area and provide one on one support to the student as well as collaborate with the classroom teacher.

Classroom or resource teachers serve students in a specific age range, where itinerant teachers tend to cover students pre-k through 12th grade.

Salary, Education and Certification

Certification for a teacher of the deaf varies from state to state. There are several colleges that offer bachelor and master degrees in education of the deaf. While you don’t have to have a degree in deaf education, you must be able to pass the state certification test. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary is $53,220.

If you are looking for a career where you can support students’ communication needs, as well as their academic, social, and independent functioning needs, work with parents and professionals on understanding hearing loss, and have a variety of classroom settings to work in, then you should consider becoming a teacher of the deaf.