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What Are the Career Options in Special Education Outside the Classroom?

Providing services to people with special needs is both rewarding and demanding. Special education teachers who want a higher-level role in the decisions that impact the daily lives of their students can take their career to the next level by becoming a Special Education Administrator.

Effective leaders in special education need to have some general qualifications. In addition to being strong leaders, effective administrators need to have strong managerial skills. It's important to also have experience in the classroom, as that helps to understand what your staff goes through daily and provides hands-on experience in understanding students. All administrators need to be problem-solvers as well as decision-makers to be successful in achieving goals and carrying out plans.

Typically, administrators in special education have a variety of responsibilities in addition to making sure students' needs are being met. These include strategic planning, monitoring budgets, compliance with federal and state rules and regulations, improvement of academic outcomes, and guidance and support for teachers, principals and other administrators. describes the job of special education supervisor or administrator as providing leadership and utilizing "decision-making skills to oversee the instructional programs and offerings for an entire school, district, or system." The special education supervisor or administrator develops policies and procedures that identify student needs and provide Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Job duties may also include hiring staff and overseeing professional development.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't list data specifically for Special Education Administrators, but statistics are available for Education Administrators of Elementary and Secondary Schools. In 2017, the mean annual wage for Education Administrators was $97,440.

Moving Into Special Education Leadership

Becoming a special education teacher, intervention specialist, administrator or leader in special education usually requires a Master of Education in Special Education degree.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University has a 100-percent-online program for those wanting to pursue a master's in Special Education -- Administration. This program is for professionals who want to continue working full time while pursuing education. The M.Ed. in Special Education -- Administration is a 30-credit-hour program that students can complete in as few as 12 months. SOSU offers multiple start dates throughout the year, and the online format provides the flexibility that working professionals need.

This program is designed to help professionals who want to provide services to individuals with special needs. Participants will learn how to best reach and educate these students and develop the ability to teach others about special education.

Courses cover topics including education research, foundations in special education, program development and organization in special education, student assessment, learning environments and social interactions, special education law, public school law, administration of special programs, and more.

Learn more about SOSU's online M.Ed. in Special Education – Administration program.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Education Administrators

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