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Become A Special Education Preschool Teacher

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Working As A Special Education Preschool Teacher

  • 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

  • $44,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Special Education Preschool Teacher 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 A Special Education Preschool Teacher

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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Average Length of Employment
Special ED Teacher 3.9 years
Special Educator 3.3 years
Top Careers Before Special Education Preschool Teacher
Teacher 11.1%
Tutor 2.7%
Internship 2.7%
Volunteer 2.1%
Nanny 2.1%
Top Careers After Special Education Preschool Teacher
Teacher 8.2%
Director 2.1%
Internship 1.7%

Do you work as a Special Education Preschool Teacher?

Special Education Preschool Teacher Demographics

Gender

Female

85.9%

Unknown

9.4%

Male

4.7%
Ethnicity

White

62.0%

Hispanic or Latino

16.1%

Black or African American

11.8%

Asian

6.6%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

70.4%

Portuguese

3.7%

Vietnamese

3.7%

Braille

3.7%

French

3.7%

Cayuga

3.7%

Tagalog

3.7%

Korean

3.7%

Arabic

3.7%
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Special Education Preschool Teacher Education

Schools

Touro College

14.6%

Adelphi University

11.5%

Grand Canyon University

6.9%

Northern Arizona University

5.4%

Mercy College - Dobbs Ferry

5.4%

University of Phoenix

5.4%

West Virginia University

5.4%

Southern Connecticut State University

4.6%

Capella University

4.6%

California State University - Dominguez Hills

4.6%

Long Island University - C W Post Campus

3.8%

Western Governors University

3.1%

Saint John's University - New York

3.1%

Eastern Connecticut State University

3.1%

Saint Joseph's College, New York

3.1%

Hunter College of the City University of New York

3.1%

Nazareth College of Rochester

3.1%

New York University

3.1%

State University of New York College at New Paltz

3.1%

Walden University

3.1%
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Majors

Special Education

42.0%

Education

17.0%

Early Childhood Education

10.4%

Elementary Education

8.5%

Educational Leadership

3.4%

Curriculum And Instruction

2.5%

Teaching Assistants/Aides

2.3%

Psychology

2.1%

Human Development

1.5%

Social Work

1.5%

Speech-Language Pathology

1.3%

Ethnic, Gender And Minority Studies

1.1%

Educational Technology

0.8%

General Education, Specific Areas

0.8%

Human Services

0.8%

Behavioral Sciences

0.8%

Counseling Psychology

0.8%

Liberal Arts

0.8%

Communication Disorders Sciences

0.6%

Business

0.6%
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Degrees

Masters

57.7%

Bachelors

24.5%

Other

10.6%

Certificate

3.0%

Associate

2.6%

Doctorate

0.9%

License

0.4%

Diploma

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$44,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$28,000
Min 10%
$44,000
Median 50%
$44,000
Median 50%
$44,000
Median 50%
$44,000
Median 50%
$44,000
Median 50%
$44,000
Median 50%
$44,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Alameda Unified School District
Highest Paying City
Marysville, WA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
3.3 years
How much does a Special Education Preschool Teacher make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Special Education Preschool Teacher in the United States is $44,741 per year or $22 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $28,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $70,000.

Real Special Education Preschool Teacher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Special EDU. Teacher, Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary Santa Clara County Office of Education San Jose, CA Sep 29, 2011 $87,111
Special Education Teacher, Preschool Special Education Associates, Inc. New York, NY Apr 25, 2016 $81,460
Special Education Teachers, Preschool Exclusively Infants Jacksonville, FL Aug 30, 2013 $75,073
Preschool Special Education Teacher Walnut Creek School Dstrict Walnut Creek, CA Aug 23, 2013 $73,052
Special Education Teacher-Preschool Program Alameda Unified School District Alameda, CA Sep 02, 2011 $71,173
Special Education Teacher Preschool Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Monterey, CA Sep 30, 2014 $68,254
Preschool Special Education Teacher Benicia Unified Schol District Benicia, CA Jul 01, 2012 $66,315
Special Education Teachers, Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary Quality Team Corp D/B/A T.C.P. World Academy Cincinnati, OH Jul 13, 2012 $60,960
Special Education Teachers, Preschool, Kindergarten, and Elementary Baltimore City Public School System Baltimore, MD Jun 03, 2011 $60,880
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education Appletree Early Learning Public Charter Schools Washington, DC Dec 09, 2013 $60,000
Special Education Preschool Teacher National Child Research Center Washington, DC Mar 08, 2011 $59,697
Special Education Teacher-Preschool Franklin Pierce Schools Tacoma, WA Aug 01, 2015 $46,550
Special Education Teacher-Preschool Franklin Pierce Schools Spanaway, WA Aug 01, 2015 $46,550
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education Star America, Inc. NY Aug 23, 2013 $45,885
Special Education Teacher, Preschool, Kindergarten & Elementary Los Angeles Unified School District Lomita, CA Mar 08, 2011 $45,637
Special Education Teacher, Preschool, Kindergarten & Elementary Los Angeles Unified School District Los Angeles, CA Mar 08, 2011 $45,637
Preschool Special Education Teacher Loving Care Day Nursery Washington, DC Mar 07, 2013 $45,510
Special Education Teacher, Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary Saint Paul Christian School Aug 17, 2011 $45,300
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education Alim Academy Inc. Potomac, MD Oct 29, 2013 $38,210
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education Montessori One Preschool Academy Albuquerque, NM May 05, 2014 $38,022
Special Education Teachers, Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary Wichita Public Schools Wichita, KS Dec 16, 2011 $37,998
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education Whitehouse Preparatory School White House Station, NJ Jun 19, 2014 $37,794
Special Education Preschool Teacher Special Care Inc. Oklahoma City, OK Sep 16, 2015 $37,566
Special Education Teachers-Preschool, Kindergarten & Elementary Whiteriver Unified School District #20 Whiteriver, AZ Aug 30, 2012 $37,500
Preschool Special Education Teacher Flagstaff Unified School District #1 Flagstaff, AZ Oct 01, 2013 $37,412
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education Montessori School of San Leandro San Leandro, CA Jan 08, 2014 $37,378

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Top Skills for A Special Education Preschool Teacher

  1. Classroom Management
  2. Special Education Program
  3. Occupational Therapists
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed classroom management system using class and individual picture schedules, positive reinforcement and token system.
  • Developed and implemented child-centered developmentally appropriate programs in center and home-based Preschool Special Education Programs.
  • Coordinated evaluation schedules with psychologists, speech pathologists, physical and occupational therapists.
  • Selected Contributions: Developed lesson plans and class material - Combined instruction with demonstration to clearly communicate objectives to class.
  • Worked with Preschool students; Disabilities included Autism, Hearing Impaired, Multiple Disabilities, and Developmental Disabilities.

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Top 10 Best States for Special Education Preschool Teachers

  1. Michigan
  2. Alaska
  3. Oregon
  4. New Jersey
  5. New York
  6. Connecticut
  7. District of Columbia
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Minnesota
  10. Washington
  • (394 jobs)
  • (28 jobs)
  • (90 jobs)
  • (440 jobs)
  • (402 jobs)
  • (195 jobs)
  • (43 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (299 jobs)
  • (210 jobs)

Top Special Education Preschool Teacher Employers

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Jobs From Top Special Education Preschool Teacher Employers

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