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Online Certificate in Special Education

Online Special Education Certificate Programs

What is special education? Special education refers to educating special-needs students who may be affected by conditions ...

Online Special Education Certificate Programs

What is special education? Special education refers to educating special-needs students who may be affected by conditions such as autism or muscular dystrophy, among others.  Special education teachers must be well-equipped to provide engaging and effective learning environments for students who have very different emotional, intellectual, physical and developmental condition. That’s where online special education certificate programs may come in. 

Special education teachers may work in a variety of environments including public, charter or private schools. Special education teachers can also work in childcare centers or residential facilities, hospitals and students’ homes. Classes are generally smaller and more specialized with the goal of providing one-on-one attention to students to ensure that their individual needs are met.

Special education teachers who practice at public schools must have at least a bachelor’s degree, as well as state-issued certification or a license.[i] If you’ve already earned a bachelor’s or graduate degree but want to pursue a career as a special education teacher, you may want to consider earning a special education certificate.  For working teachers who are already certified, earning a special education certificate could be a great way to help you transition into the field.  And for current special education teachers, a certificate program may provide you with an opportunity to help you gain specialized knowledge in a particular area of disability such autism or emotional disturbance.

Now let’s take a look at the role of special education teachers – including responsibilities, potential salary and job outlook.

Certificate in Special Education Online

Special education teachers work with students who can have a wide range of mental, emotional, learning and physical disabilities. They are responsible for adapting general education lessons to meet the needs of their students, and they also teach basic skills such as literacy and communication techniques.

Some of the duties of special education teachers may include[ii]:

  • Assessing the skills of students to determine their needs and to develop teaching plans

  • Developing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for students

  • Teaching and mentoring students in a class, small groups and one-on-one

  • Planning, organizing and assigning specific activities to students

  • Discussing student progress with parents, teacher and counselors

  • Supervising and mentoring teaching assistants in their classes

  • Preparing and helping students to transition from grades and after graduation

The above is an overview of general duties but these may vary depending on the work setting, student disabilities and teacher specialty.

Median annual salary: $55,060[iii]

Job outlook, 2012-20: 6% growth[iii]


[i] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-4[ii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-2 [iii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-1