9 Reasons to Get a Degree in Special Education

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Written By Charlotte Miller

Special education is the practice of educating students with disabilities to address their individual needs. Special education includes learning disabilities, speech and language impairments, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), emotional disturbance, deaf-blindness, and orthopedic impairment. Special education teachers work with such students to help them acquire academic skills necessary for later success at school or work. They may also provide psychological counseling for students dealing with anxiety or other mental health problems related to their disability.

Special education is an exciting field to work in. You’ll see children and teens grow and develop, helping them succeed in school. Special educators also have plenty of opportunities for professional development and advancement within their careers.

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Make a difference

A career in special education provides the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children who require a little bit of extra help. You will work with them and their families, helping them overcome obstacles that may have prevented them from reaching their full potential. You’ll be able to help children learn new skills as they grow up, ensuring that they have access to appropriate resources later on in life. Working with children and teens who have special needs is extremely rewarding. You’ll see their progress firsthand when you help children improve their social skills and acquire important academic skills.

Empower students

A degree in special education can help you empower students. Students with disabilities often feel that their needs are not being met, which can lead to frustration, anxiety, and depression. A MAT special education degree will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to help your students overcome these issues by:

  • Identifying individual strengths and weaknesses within the cohort you serve (this can help them understand themselves better)
  • Helping them develop strategies for meeting their personal goals (such as improving literacy skills) through intervention programs such as Individual Education Plans or Assistive Technology Device Programs (ATDP).
  • Helping them develop problem-solving skills to improve communication and social interaction.

Increased demand

The job market for special educators is growing faster than the national average, with an expected 9% increase from 2016 to 2026. Special education teachers are in high demand and can expect a salary of $57,000 per year or more, depending on their education level and experience. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there were over 1 million special education teachers in America at the end of 2016—a 29% increase since 2010, when there were 730,000 special educators working across all levels of education (K-12).

Variety of job opportunities

As a special education teacher, you can work in a variety of settings. You could be an assistant teacher at a public or charter school. You may also be able to work at an independent or private school.

Smaller class sizes

Special educators often have smaller class sizes than other teachers, which means more one-on-one time with students. This can be especially beneficial for students who are struggling in school or need extra help with learning. The small size of your classroom will also allow you to make sure that every student gets the attention they deserve and that each child feels comfortable coming forward when they have questions or concerns about their learning environment. Special education teachers are often responsible for monitoring each child’s progress in their class. This can be difficult when you have a large number of students, but it’s easier with smaller classes. You’ll also have more time to plan and prepare lessons for your students.

Teacher loan forgiveness programs

Special educators are eligible for teacher loan forgiveness programs. Borrowers can have their federal student loans forgiven after 10 years of public service if they make 120 payments on their loans via the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program also allows borrowers to have their student debts forgiven after eight years of teaching full-time at an eligible school or an institution of higher education.

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Valuable support and resources

As a special educator, you’ll work with a school-based team providing valuable support and resources for each student. A team consists of special educators, other teachers, parents, and administrators who are committed to providing a forum for sharing information and ideas. The goal is to address the needs of all children in the school so that they can reach their full potential. 

Access to support services

A degree in special education provides access to a wealth of support services, including career mentoring, job placement assistance, and more. In addition to the formal mentoring program offered by your university or college, many other resources are available at local schools or community centers that can help you find employment after graduation. Professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators who work with students with disabilities will equip you with an understanding of how best to teach these children through their own experiences as educators. This includes techniques such as group activities or instructional strategies that have been proven effective in classrooms across the country since they were first developed decades ago!

Respect in the community

Teachers who specialize in working with students with disabilities are well respected within the larger teaching community. They are often asked to speak at conferences and other events, serve on committees and boards, provide training for new teachers, and more. This makes it easier for you to find employment because employers know that you have experience working with children who have special needs.


A special education degree is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities. You will get an opportunity to empower them and get a well-paying, secure, and fulfilling job. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a teacher or administrator, find out what programs may be available. You’ll also want to check out the state requirements so that when it comes time to apply for licensure after graduation, they don’t have any barriers standing in your way.