Posts

3 Valuable Pieces of Special Education Career Advice

At any stage in your career, everyone can benefit from a solid piece of career advice. In the field of special education careers, these three individuals have excelled in their respective paths. Psychiatrist and ADHD specialist Dr. Ned Hallowell, classroom teacher and behavioral therapist Tim Villegas and speech pathologist Carrie Clarke all offer their wisdom regularly. Even if you’re not looking to build your career in their specific specialty, special education professionals should take their valuable advice to heart.

1. Dr. Ned Hallowell

Dr. Ned Hallowell, a New York Times bestselling author of more than 20 books, advises special ed professionals to “look for a mentor — a person in your field but not necessarily at your workplace — who can guide your career and point out trouble spots before they become barriers to advancement.” In all careers and lifestyles, he says: “What is most important is to work with what we have and recognize and accept ourselves for who we are. No amount of money or prestige can make us happy without self-acceptance. Love who you are and it will be easier to love what you do.”

2. Tim Villegas

Special education teacher Tim Villegas draws on his nearly 15 years in the field to advise those seeking jobs in special education on his blog. “Find a support system,” he says. “It is so important to be in contact with people who feel the same way about education as you do. For me, it was finding like-minded bloggers who were talking about the same issues in the same way. Second, you need to stop being afraid of change.” He encourages special ed professionals to ask: “Have you stopped growing as an educator? Have you stopped learning new things? Have you lost interest in refining your craft? Even if it means taking a class or joining a professional learning network, you may have to do something to change your situation.”

3. Carrie Clark

Carrie Clark, speech-language pathologist and blogger, encourages those pursuing special education careers to find ways to magnify their impact while avoiding burnout. She encourages educators to consciously collect their own success stories. “Before you leave your office each day, pull out a sticky note or a scrap of paper and write down one win that one of your students had. You don’t have to write their name. Just write down something awesome that happened for one of your kids in speech. The simple act of writing down these wins will help to keep you in a grateful and positive mindset. Plus, when you’re having a rough day, you can always look back through your jar to show you how much of a difference you really are making in these children’s lives.”

These strategies and mindsets helped these three experts excel in their work. While pursuing jobs in special education, use their tips to carve out your own path to success and more effectively help the children you work with – now and in the future.

Meet more special education professionals in our blog.

5 Benefits of Earning Your Master’s in Special Education in 2019

Anyone who has worked with students with disabilities knows what a rewarding and enriching experience it can be.

And anyone who is the parent of a child with a disability knows how crucial it is for their teachers and care providers to be highly trained and committed to the important work they do.

Paraprofessionals or teacher’s aids helping in the classroom work one-on-one with students to make sure they’re getting their needs met. They keep the classroom running safely and smoothly.

Unfortunately, these type of careers are not always available, and can be difficult to support a family on these wages.

If this hits home for you, it might be time to take the next step in your career.

If you have been considering going back to school to work on your master’s degree, now is a better time than ever to take that exciting leap.

Keep reading to hear our top five reasons why working on your master’s degree in 2019 will be the best decision of your life.

1. The Opportunity to Make a Greater Impact

If you’re already working in the field of special education, chances are you’re committed to sticking with it.

The connections you form with your students and the fulfillment you get from your work can be impossible to find in other career fields. But you can only get so far with only a bachelor’s degree.

Studies have found that the advanced knowledge you get from a master’s program can provide you with the skills to have a more far-reaching and long-lasting impact on the communities you work in.

If you’re not already working in the field, that doesn’t mean you’re not a great candidate. Maybe you have a friend or family member with a disability, who has inspired you to want to pursue this type of work.

Maybe you’re simply drawn to it out of passion and curiosity to learn different methods of teaching. Perhaps you’d like to have the opportunity to work with students with diverse needs and backgrounds.

Whatever your motivation for wanting to pursue an advanced degree in the field, chances are that there’s a master’s program out there that is a great fit for you.

2. Versatility in Career Options

There are more than 6.7 million students with disabilities attending schools throughout the country. That means that there are a wide array of areas where people with advanced training are needed.

There is a career out there that is perfectly suited to your strengths and interests.

Earning your master’s degree is the first stepping stone down the path of being able to find the most fulfilling work possible.

There are so many opportunities available, some of which include:

ABA Specialist

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is the leading therapy for students with autism. Advanced knowledge of the science behind this method is essential. The training you’ll receive from your degree is crucial to being able to create the best learning plans possible.

Educational Diagnostician

The first step to being able to provide the best education for students is being able to perform the right tests to assess their disability. A career in special education testing lets you work with a wide range of students who are just starting out on their journey.

Special Education Teacher

Whether you’re interested in working in a public or private school, with elementary school children or young adults, there is a wide range of special education teaching opportunities out there.

Special Education Specialist

For some students, the services provided in the classroom are not enough to meet their needs, and additional support might be necessary. Specialists have skills in specialized areas, such as sign language, to be able to meet the needs of every student.

This is only a quick glimpse of the possible options for an exciting career in special education.

3. Personal Growth and Fulfillment

In our disconnected and challenging world, it can often feel like we are alone in the universe. But providing support to students with disabilities can make you feel fulfilled in a way that you may not find elsewhere.

The knowledge you’ll get from a master’s program will give you great possibilities for personal growth and enrichment.

Education conferences, talks, trainings, seminars, podcasts, and other professional development opportunities will be available to you throughout the span your career.

Special education is a field where you never have to stop learning, growing, and expanding your horizons.

4. Revolutionizing the Classroom

We are truly living in the digital age.

Now more than ever, technological advances are redefining how children interact with learning materials in the classroom. And this is especially applicable in special education.

Communication devices are becoming more advanced. They allow nonverbal students to communicate their needs and ideas in ways they weren’t able to in the past.

Tablets provide engaging opportunities for growth and development.

Technology grows exponentially, so it’s impossible to predict what the classroom will look like in 5 or 10 years!

A career in special education allows you to be on the cutting edge of this exciting era. You’ll get to implement the latest tech advances to give your students the best learning experience possible.

5. Your Salary Will Be Worth the Investment

There’s no question that having a master’s degree allows you to earn a more competitive salary. According to the US Census Bureau, people with master’s degrees earn an average of 30% more than those with a bachelor’s.

And that percentage is even higher for people working in the special education field.

On average, people with a master’s degree working in special education make between $60,000 and $65,000. That can be as much as double what a paraprofessional or teacher’s aid is earning.

So the investment that you make in your education will most definitely pay off in the long run.

The Sky is the Limit With a Master’s Degree in Special Education

If you are ready to start impacting your community in a meaningful way then it’s time to start looking into what master’s program is right for you.

We are here to support you in taking this exciting and possibly intimidating step.

So please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have along the way.

And don’t forget to check out our blog to stay on top of the latest news and information about the rewarding field of special education.

6 Influencers Working in Special Education

6 Influencers Working in Special EducationSuccessful special education careers don’t all look identical. In the field of special education, there are a number of individuals currently working who have had a huge impact on children, families and teachers across the globe. They use their special education degrees to spread knowledge: by speaking, writing books, blogging and sharing their expertise on social media, beyond their own direct networks. Influencers like these come from varied backgrounds, specialties and positions, but helping kids learn is their common goal. 

Carrie Clark

Carrie Clark’s career as a speech-language pathologist began in graduate school at Truman State University. She worked at the Columbia Public Schools in Columbia, MS, and went on to open her own private practice. She founded the widely read blog Speech and Language Kids to educate families on how to best help their special needs children – “my superpower is breaking down complex speech and language research into actionable, step-by-step plans,” she says as a welcome message on her website.

Dr. Frederick Covington

Dr. Frederick B. Covington is an occupational therapist with a degree from Howard University and is now an award-winning inventor, lecturer, app developer and author. He works with children with a range of abilities, including intellectual impairments, behavioral problems, ADHD, OCD, sensory integration deficits, learning disabilities and executive functional disorders. He’s focused on holistic patient care; as he says, “Treat the patient, not the diagnosis.” 

Rob Gorski

Autism awareness blogger and special needs parent Rob Gorski created the multiple award-winning blog the Autism Dad blog (formerly Lost and Tired) in 2010. In 2013, he was named the third-most influential autism blogger on the internet by Sharecare. 

As Rob explains on LinkedIn, “My oldest is extremely medically fragile with unbelievably rare conditions … I live for my wife and kids, as well as helping others in the Autism and special needs community … My goal is to use my success to not only help my family move forward in life but also help as many other families within the special needs community as possible.” 

Katrina Keene

Dr. Katrina Keene is a school leader and education strategist who researches and integrates new technologies into classrooms to help special ed students succeed. As Director of Innovation at a College Preparatory School, she was responsible for student achievement through technology integration. She received a master’s of education degree from Walden University and went on to become the co-founder of Edventure Quests, a MIEExpert, founder of #tntechchat and #edcampleadtn, and can be found in several well-known EdTech publications, blogs and podcasts. “Katrina’s passion for technology and education is strengthened through the phenomenal educators she works with every day,” she says on her website. 

Dr. Matthew Lynch

Dr. Matthew Lynch is an educator and prominent advocate for students and children with special needs. He received a master’s degree and doctorate in education from Jackson State University, and a certificate of executive leadership from Hampton University. On the university level, Dr. Lynch works with special ed instructors to increase their understanding of technology integration strategies to help their students learn. His research concentrates on school reform, closing the achievement gap and improved teacher education. He runs his own consulting group and edits the Edvocate and Tech Edvocate.

Michelle Rhee

Kennedy School for Government graduate Michelle Rhee began her special education career as a teacher in the Baltimore school district. She went on to found StudentsFirst, a nonprofit that advocates for education reform (which has since merged with another education advocacy organization, 50Can). “While teaching elementary school … I saw firsthand how an excellent education changes lives,” she says on LinkedIn. “That’s why I’ve made it my life’s work to provide this to every child in this country, no matter their ZIP code, race or socioeconomic background. There is no excuse not to.”

In all their various fields, these eight influencers demonstrate the potential those who work in special education can have. Special education degrees helped jumpstart their careers, but for each of these individuals, their love for the children they worked with drove them to new professional heights. 

Learn more about special education career paths.

What are the different types of Special Education?

Over 6.7 million students are currently receiving some form of special education.

If you’re thinking of teaching children with a learning disability or other special needs, then it’s important to understand just how broad the category of “special education” actually is.

In this post, we’ll quickly introduce you to the thirteen types of special education. This way, you can decide which areas you’d like to focus on as you continue on the path toward becoming a special education professional.

1. Deaf-blindness

This refers to a student that has difficulties when it comes to both hearing and seeing what’s being said and shown to them.

They may not be completely deaf or blind, but the combination of the two of these issues makes it harder for them to learn at the rate of their peers.

In some cases, they have struggled so much that a school dedicated specifically to only the deaf or only the blind did not have the resources to help them.

2. Hearing Impairment

A student with a hearing impairment may not be completely deaf, but they are hard of hearing. In some cases, they may be deaf in one ear or deal with a hearing loss that changes and progresses with time.

In short, it’s any loss or change in hearing that isn’t defined as deafness.

3. Deafness

A deaf child has many specific needs in the classroom.

You may need to learn ASL, understand how to operate a hearing aid system, and find other ways to communicate with deaf students.

4. Specific Learning Disability

A child with a specific learning disability, or SLD, has been diagnosed with a processing or learning issue.

They may have a single learning disability, or they may have more than one. This can make it hard for the child to read, communicate, write, understand math, and more.

Specific Learning Disabilities can include an auditory processing disorder, Dyslexia, a nonverbal learning disability, or Dysgraphia.

5. Autism

There are over 3.5 million Americans currently living on the Autism spectrum.

Autism means that a child may have difficulty expressing or controlling their emotions, have trouble with communication, and even struggle to make friends.

They may also make repetitive movements, fixate on ideas, and become extremely sensitive to their sensory surroundings (like light or sound.)

6. Other Health Impairment

This is a bit of an “umbrella term” when it comes to the types of special education available to learners today.

This can refer to conditions and illnesses that impact a child’s strength, ability to focus or stay awake, and more.

For example, ADHD falls under the category of “Other Health Impairment.

7. Visual Impairment/Blindness

There are nearly 63,000 students who are either blind or dealing with another more severe visual impairment.

Be aware that a child who wears glasses will not fall under the category of Visual Impairment.

A student may require special accommodations, need help learning braille, or even need a guide around their school.

8. Speech or Language Impairment

This is another blanket term in the world of special education. This means that a child has issues with speaking or communication.

They may not speak the language of instruction, they may stutter, and they may have some sort of a voice impairment that prevents them from speaking.

9. Emotional Disturbance

A student with an emotional disturbance deals with moderate to severe mental health issues.

In some cases, they have been diagnosed with a more severe mood disorder, like Bipolar Disorder or even Borderline Personality Disorder. They may also have schizophrenia, extreme anxiety, or even obsessive-compulsive disorder.

They may become angry, mean, or violent, or they may withdraw and isolate themselves to the extreme.

10. Traumatic Brain Injury

This type of special education refers to a student that has suffered from a brain injury that has impacted their physical and/or emotional/learning development.

Usually, this happened because of an accident. In some cases, however, the brain injury could have been sustained because of abuse.

11. Intellectual Disability

This refers to children that don’t simply have a learning disability but have an intellectual ability that is well below average for their age range.

For example, the student may have Down Syndrome.

In some cases, this lower intellectual level can make it hard for the student to take care of themselves. It could also impact their overall social life, and make it tough for them to communicate their needs and feelings.

12. Multiple Disabilities

In some cases, children will have more than one of the disabilities on this list.

This means that parents may need to look into more specialized programs to ensure that their students get the education support they need.

13. Orthopedic Impairment

Students with an orthopedic impairment deal with situations that make it difficult for them to move as easily as children without some sort of disability can.

They may be in a wheelchair, be missing a limb, need a walker, or have a limp or another issue that makes it harder for them to move. In some cases, they may be unable to write or fully turn their heads to read.

The 13 Types of Special Education: Wrapping Up

We hope that this brief overview of the 13 types of special education has helped you to narrow down your specifications when it comes to what you want to concentrate on.

Remember that special education, though challenging, is one of the most rewarding professions to get into.

If you’re ready to jump start your career, let us help you learn how to make a difference in the lives of your future students.

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

Check out the Parent Support Center