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Become An Early Childhood Specialist

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Working As An Early Childhood Specialist

  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Scheduling Work and Activities
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Deal with People

  • $30,830

    Average Salary

What Does An Early Childhood Specialist Do

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, to students with mild and moderate disabilities. They also teach basic skills, such as literacy and communication techniques, to students with severe disabilities.

Duties

Special education teachers typically do the following:

  • Assess students’ skills to determine their needs and to develop appropriate teaching plans
  • Adapt general lessons to meet the needs of students
  • Develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student
  • Plan, organize, and assign activities that are specific to each student’s abilities
  • Teach and mentor students as a class, in small groups, and one-on-one
  • Implement IEPs, assess students’ performance, and track their progress
  • Update IEPs throughout the school year to reflect students’ progress and goals
  • Discuss student’s progress with parents, teachers, counselors, and administrators
  • Supervise and mentor teacher assistants who work with students with disabilities
  • Prepare and help students transition from grade to grade and for life after graduation

Special education teachers work with general education teachers, counselors, school superintendents, administrators, and parents. As a team, they develop IEPs specific to each student’s needs. IEPs outline the goals and services for each student, such as sessions with the school psychologists, counselors, and special education teachers. Teachers also meet with parents, school administrators, and counselors to discuss updates and changes to the IEPs.

Special education teachers’ duties vary by the type of setting they work in, student disabilities, and teacher specialty.

Some special education teachers work in classrooms or resource centers that only include students with disabilities. In these settings, teachers plan, adapt, and present lessons to meet each student’s needs. They teach students in small groups or on a one-on-one basis.

In inclusive classrooms, special education teachers teach students with disabilities who are in general education classrooms. They work with general education teachers to present the information in a manner that students with disabilities can more easily understand. They also assist general education teachers to adapt lessons that will meet the needs of the students with disabilities in their classes.

Special education teachers also collaborate with teacher assistants, psychologists, and social workers to accommodate requirements of students with disabilities. For example, they may have a teacher assistant work with them to provide support for a student who needs particular attention.

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide variety of mental, emotional, physical, and learning disabilities. For example, some work with students who need assistance in subject areas, such as reading and math. Others help students develop study skills, such as by using flashcards and text highlighting.

Some special education teachers work with students who have physical and sensory disabilities, such as blindness and deafness, and with students who are wheelchair-bound. They also may work with those who have autism spectrum disorders and emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

Special education teachers work with students from preschool to high school. Some teachers work with students who have severe disabilities until the students are 21 years old.

Special education teachers help students with severe disabilities develop basic life skills, such as how to respond to questions and how to follow directions. Some teach the skills necessary for students with moderate disabilities to live independently, find a job, and manage money and their time. For more information about other workers who help individuals with disabilities develop skills necessary to live independently, see the profiles on occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants and aides.

Most special education teachers use computers to keep records of their students’ performance, prepare lesson plans, and update IEPs. Some teachers also use various assistive technology aids, such as Braille writers and computer software that help them communicate with students.

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How To Become An Early Childhood Specialist

Special education teachers in public schools are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree and a state-issued certification or license. Private schools typically require teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, but teachers are not required to be licensed or certified. For information about teacher preparation programs and certification requirements, visit Teach.org or contact your state’s board of education.

Education

All states require special education teachers in public schools to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Some earn a degree specifically in special education. Others major in elementary education or a content area, such as math or science, with a minor in special education.

In a program leading to a bachelor’s degree in special education, prospective teachers learn about the different types of disabilities and how to present information so that students will understand. These programs typically include fieldwork, such as student teaching. To become fully certified, some states require special education teachers to complete a master’s degree in special education.

Teachers in private schools do not need to meet state requirements. However, private schools may prefer to hire teachers who have at least a bachelor’s degree in special education.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed. A license is frequently referred to as a certification. Those who teach in private schools are not required to be licensed. Most states require teachers to pass a background check.

Requirements for certification vary by state. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, states also require teachers to complete a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching. Some states require a minimum grade point average. Teachers may be required to complete annual professional development classes or a master’s degree program to maintain their license.

Many states offer general licenses in special education that allow teachers to work with students with a variety of disabilities. Others offer licenses or endorsements based on a disability-specific category, such as autism or behavior disorders.

Some states allow special education teachers to transfer their licenses from another state. Other states require even an experienced teacher to pass their state’s licensing requirements.

All states offer an alternative route to certification for people who already have a bachelor’s degree. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately, under the close supervision of an experienced teacher. These alternative programs cover teaching methods and child development. Candidates are awarded full certification after they complete the program. Other programs require prospective teachers to take classes in education before they can start to teach. They may be awarded a master’s degree after completing either type of program.

Training

Some special education teachers need to complete a period of fieldwork, commonly referred to as student teaching, before they can work as a teacher. In some states, this program is a prerequisite for a license to teach in public schools. During student teaching, they gain experience in preparing lesson plans and teaching students in a classroom setting, under the supervision and guidance of a mentor teacher. The amount of time required for these programs varies by state, but may last from 1 to 2 years. Many universities offer student teaching programs as part of a degree in special education.

Advancement

Experienced teachers can advance to become mentor or lead teachers who help less experienced teachers improve their teaching skills.

Teachers may become school counselors, instructional coordinators, assistant principals, or principals. These positions generally require additional education, an advanced degree, or certification. An advanced degree in education administration or leadership may be helpful.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Special education teachers discuss students’ needs and performances with general education teachers, parents, and administrators. They also explain difficult concepts in terms that students with learning disabilities can understand.

Critical-thinking skills. Special education teachers assess students’ progress and use that information to adapt lessons to help them learn.

Interpersonal skills. Special education teachers regularly work with general education teachers, school counselors, administrators, and parents to develop Individualized Education Programs. As a result, they need to be able to build positive working relationships.

Patience. Working with students with special needs and different abilities can be difficult. Special education teachers should be patient with each student, as some may need the instruction given aloud, at a slower pace, or in writing.  

Resourcefulness. Special education teachers must develop different ways to present information in a manner that meets the needs of their students. They also help general education teachers adapt their lessons to the needs of students with disabilities.

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Early Childhood Specialist jobs

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Early Childhood Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

86.7%

Male

11.0%

Unknown

2.3%
Ethnicity

White

81.1%

Hispanic or Latino

10.4%

Asian

6.3%

Unknown

1.5%

Black or African American

0.7%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

57.6%

French

9.1%

Italian

4.5%

Chinese

3.0%

German

3.0%

Cantonese

3.0%

Arabic

3.0%

Swedish

1.5%

Portuguese

1.5%

Bulgarian

1.5%

Hindi

1.5%

Japanese

1.5%

Mandarin

1.5%

Bengali

1.5%

Tagalog

1.5%

Dakota

1.5%

Urdu

1.5%

Russian

1.5%
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Early Childhood Specialist Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

11.2%

Liberty University

7.0%

Ashford University

6.3%

Arkansas State University

6.3%

Michigan State University

5.6%

Arizona State University

5.6%

Nova Southeastern University

5.6%

Grand Canyon University

5.6%

Walden University

4.9%

Capella University

4.9%

Portland State University

4.2%

University of Georgia

4.2%

Washington State University

4.2%

ECPI University

3.5%

University of Wisconsin - Platteville

3.5%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.5%

University of Central Arkansas

3.5%

Metropolitan Community College

3.5%

Springfield College

3.5%

University of Oregon

3.5%
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Majors

Early Childhood Education

17.0%

Human Development

10.9%

Education

10.2%

Psychology

8.3%

Elementary Education

8.1%

Social Work

6.4%

Special Education

6.2%

Business

4.5%

Educational Leadership

4.4%

Counseling Psychology

3.1%

Human Services

2.8%

Curriculum And Instruction

2.5%

School Counseling

2.3%

Liberal Arts

2.3%

Nursing

2.1%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.0%

Biology

1.8%

Criminal Justice

1.8%

Communication

1.7%

Mental Health Counseling

1.6%
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Degrees

Masters

34.6%

Bachelors

34.0%

Other

16.3%

Associate

6.1%

Doctorate

4.2%

Certificate

3.4%

Diploma

1.0%

License

0.3%
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Real Early Childhood Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Early Childhood Education Specialist Escuela Hispanoamericana de Texas LLC UT Apr 30, 2015 $67,000
Early Childhood Education Specialist Spanish Immersion Daycare, LLC Austin, TX Jan 04, 2010 $45,760
Early Childhood Education Specialist Spanish Immersion Day School CA Jan 03, 2013 $44,637
Developmental Therapy Early Childhood Specialist Children's First Rehab Services, Inc. Evansville, IN Jan 19, 2011 $40,801
Developmental Therapy Early Childhood Specialist Children's First Rehab Services, Inc. Evansville, IN Aug 27, 2010 $40,801
Developmental Therapy Early Childhood Specialist Children's First Rehab Services, Inc. Evansville, IN Oct 01, 2009 $40,801
Early Childhood Education Specialist Spanish Immersion Day School Austin, TX Jan 03, 2013 $40,800
Early Childhood Physical Activity Program Associat North Carolina Association for The Education of Yo Raleigh, NC Sep 02, 2014 $37,773 -
$55,000
Even Start Early Childhood Specialist/Parent Educa Birdville Independent School District Haltom City, TX Sep 01, 2010 $37,770
Early Childhood Education Speciaist Preschool of America, LLC New York, NY Oct 01, 2010 $37,566 -
$20
Even Start Early Childhood Specialist/Kindergarden Birdville Independent School District Haltom City, TX Jan 04, 2010 $36,700
Early Childhood Specialist/Leadership Coach Comprehensive Community Child Care Dayton, OH Mar 17, 2014 $36,652
Developmental Therapy Early Childhood Specialist Children's First Rehab Services, Inc. Evansville, IN Mar 26, 2013 $35,959
Developmental Therapy Early Childhood Specialist Children's First Rehab Services, Inc. Evansville, IN May 17, 2011 $35,959
Early Childhood Specialist I Redlands Christian Migrants Association, Inc. Belleview, FL Oct 01, 2009 $35,107
Early Childhood Education Specialist Spanish Immersion Day School Austin, TX Jan 03, 2013 $33,509
Early Childhood Specialist Kiddie Junction Educational Institute Des Plaines, IL Sep 14, 2012 $30,262
Early Childhood Specialist Kiddie Junction Educational Institute Des Plaines, IL Sep 16, 2012 $30,262
Early Childhood Specialist Fairyland Nursery School, Inc. Chicago, IL Sep 02, 2011 $30,070
Early Childhood Specialist Kiddie Junction Educational Institute Des Plaines, IL Oct 01, 2012 $29,218
Early Childhood Specialist Kiddie Junction Educational Institute Des Plaines, IL Sep 14, 2012 $28,801
Early Childhood Specialist Kiddie Junction Educational Institute Des Plaines, IL Oct 01, 2011 $28,175
Early Childhood Specialist Kiddie Junction Educational Institute IA Oct 01, 2010 $28,175
Early Childhood Specialist Sandbox Pre-School and Learning Center Palos Hills, IL Jul 10, 2013 $28,154 -
$29,218
Early Childhood Specialist Sandbox Pre-School and Learning Center Palos Heights, IL Dec 01, 2009 $26,296
Early Childhood Specialist Sandbox Pre-School AMD Learning Center Palos Hills, IL Jul 10, 2010 $26,296
Early Childhood Specialist Sandbox Pre-School and Learing Center Palos Hills, IL Dec 04, 2009 $26,296

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Top Skills for An Early Childhood Specialist

ChildCareCentersClassroomManagementCreativeCurriculumPre-KChildCareProvidersWeeklyLessonPlansChildDevelopmentProfessionalDevelopmentTechnicalAssistanceSpecialNeedsItersSafeEnvironmentChildrenBirthKindergartenMentalHealthServicesInfantSuperviseSpecialEducationServicesNaeycTreatmentPlans

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Top Early Childhood Specialist Skills

  1. Child Care Centers
  2. Classroom Management
  3. Creative Curriculum
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Promote the awareness of the Quality Enhancement Project with the child care centers and family child care homes and community agencies.
  • Support teaching staff in implementing quality and developmentally appropriate lesson planning, classroom management skills, and assessment data.
  • Performed assessments using Creative Curriculum and maintained student portfolios.
  • Assist with creation and presentation of programs for pre-K thru 6th grade and seasonal camp classes.
  • Administered, reviewed and awarded scholarships to persons employed in the District of Columbia (DC) as child care providers.

Top Early Childhood Specialist Employers

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Early Childhood Specialist Videos

Occupational Video - Early Childhood Educator

Early Recognition Of Child Development Problems / Educational Video

Making a Difference: Careers in Early Intervention

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