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Special Education Teaching Certificate Online

Earning an online special education certificate teaches how to create curriculum and environments that help exceptional students reach their educational goals. Typically, this includes recognizing learning differences between gifted learners and how to adapt to each student. Courses look at how to create specific plans for each student and how to collaborate with families and other educators.

Did You Know?

Since the first special education law was enacted in 1977 the total number of children and students served has increased 81%.

Online Special Education Certification: Basics

An online special education certificate is a short, non-degree program that adds to your current knowledge and skills. Certificate programs are normally designed for part-time students who work full-time as licensed teachers. Courses typically cover classroom practices, the use of technology, and how to create an individualized educational program (IEP).

Upon earning your post baccalaureate special education certificate online, some programs allow you to transfer your earned credits to pursue a masters degree in special education. However, each school is different. Check with a few schools to find one that matches your goals.

How Long Does it Take to Earn an Online Special Education Certificate?

Typically, you can earn your online special education certificate in one to two years. Usually, certificate programs ask that you complete four to nine courses. However, each school has a unique make-up. Therefore, check with a few schools to see specific rules.

What are the Types of Online Special Education Certificates?

There are two types of online special education certifications. Because one is post bachelors and one is post masters, there are differences in the admissions rules. Mainly, those are what type of degree you may need to be accepted.

Both options strive to provide a deeper understanding of how to teach students with special needs. This includes studying how to create environments that are challenging and supportive. It may also include new methods and ways of teaching.

Post Baccalaureate Special Education Certificate Online

Some students who choose to earn a post baccalaureate special education certificate online are licensed general education teachers. These students are looking to enhance their career by learning how to teach disabled students.

Other students who pursue a post bachelors online special education certificate are those who have a bachelors degree in special education. These online certificate programs build upon your bachelors degree and in-classroom experience. This may include current issues in special education and how emotional, social, and behavioral issues can affect learning.

Typically, these certificate programs ask that you have earned a bachelors degree with an accredited university and be a licensed teacher, among other requirements.

Post Masters Certificate in Special Education

While earning an online post masters certificate in special education, courses look to help professionals working in education. Some of these are listed here.

  • Special Educators
  • Administrators
  • General Education Teachers
  • School Counselors

Other professionals may benefit from pursing a post masters certificate. That’s because programs are designed to teach how to further their understanding of teaching special needs students. Courses also look at how to create better curriculum and environments for students with special needs.

Some programs offer a few concentrations in post masters certificates. These provide an in-depth analysis of one topic of special education. Online post masters certificates in special education ask that you have earned a graduate degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Also, you normally need to be a licensed teacher. However, each school has their own requirements.

Online Special Education Certificate: What You’ll Learn

A special education teaching certificate online is designed for licensed teachers who want to learn how to teach exceptional learners or to further the education of those who already teach special education. Therefore, topics usually cover how to create a course of study to help each student. Topics also include how to monitor progress of students with special needs.

Special educators play an important role in the school community. Therefore, it is important that they stay up-to-date on the latest research, methods, and best practices. Some of these may include those listed below.

  • Courses teach how to create and put in place effective interventions. 
  • You may learn how to provide ability-appropriate accommodations.
  • Through group projects, many courses teach how to collaborate with other educators to help special needs students reach their full potential.

Online Courses for Special Education

While earning your online special education certificate, courses focus on how to create challenging and supportive learning environments for students with special needs. This can include organizing activities specific to each students’ abilities. It may also involve creating an IEP and how to adapt general lessons to each student.[i]

Some of the common special education certificate courses include those listed here.

  • Foundations of Special Education
  • Language and Communication: Development and Disorders
  • Instructional Planning for Students with Disabilities
  • Theory and Instructional Practice: Students with High Incidence Disabilities
  • Diagnostic Assessment and Progress Monitoring
  • Developing Learning Environments
  • Assessing Students with Mild Disabilities
  • Autism and Low Incidence Disabilities
  • Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted
  • Special Education: Methods and Practices Pre K – 8

Keep in mind that each school has a unique make-up. This is especially true with certificate programs because they only offer a few courses. Also, if you choose a concentration your courses may vary as well. Check with a few schools to find one that fits your goals.

How to Design an IEP

To design an Individualized Educational Program (IEP), parents work with a number of people, including the special education teacher, the regular education teacher, a representative of the school system, and others. The IEP typically includes the information listed below.

  • Current Performance
  • Annual Goals
  • Dates and Places
  • Age of Majority
  • Measuring Progress

Usually, an IEP includes more information and is updated every three years. The specific layout or design of an IEP may vary from state to state. Therefore, you should check with your individual state for specific details.

How Do You Become a Special Education Teacher?

To become a special education teacher you need at least a bachelors degree. To teach special education in a public school, you also need a state-issued license or certificate. However, each state has their own requirements. For instance, in some states to become fully licensed you need to earn a masters degree.[ii]

Special education teachers can work in hospitals, daycare facilities, students’ homes, public schools, and private schools.[iii] While you need a license to teach in a public school, the same may not apply to private schools. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for special education teachers in 2015 for some of the different settings are listed below.

  • Preschool: $53,990
  • Kindergarten and Elementary School: $55,810
  • Middle School: $57,280
  • Secondary School: $58,500[iv]

Take the Next Step!

Are you looking for a short way to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques and methods of teaching special needs students? Then take the next step to earn your online special education certificate.

Click on any of the sponsored listings on this page. There, you’ll find program descriptions, courses, and specific requirements. You can even reach out to your favorite schools directly to request more information on a special education teaching certificate online.


[i] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-2 [ii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-4 [iii]bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-3 [iv] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-5

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