how to become a special education teacher in connecticut

How to Become a Special Education Teacher in Connecticut

Special education teachers play an essential role in our educational system. They carry out both meaningful and highly respected work. Special education teachers work with students facing mild to severe emotional, learning, mental, and physical disabilities.

On a daily basis, special education teachers are responsible for:

  • Assessing students’ needs, performance, and progress
  • Adapting lessons to student abilities
  • Creating Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)
  • Preparing students for academic and life transitions

If you’re wondering how to become a special education teacher in Connecticut, you are in the right place. Below we discuss the steps you should complete in the process, and the state standards you should consider before starting your student-centered career.

National Requirements for Special Education Instructors

Although many special education teaching certifications and licensure requirements vary by state, nationally, all public-school teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree. They must also be licensed in the state and specific grade level they intend to instruct.

Special education teachers in private schools are also required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree; however, a state-issued certification may not be needed.

Generally, prospective teachers in both public and private institutions must complete a student teaching program to gain experience instructing in the classroom. They must also complete a background check and pass a teaching certification test.

Many states also require a master’s degree to be considered fully certified.

From Nationwide to New England: Advancing Your Career Through ARC

For those who already have a bachelor’s degree, Alternative Route to Certification (ARC) programs are available in every state and provide bachelor’s degree holders instructional courses on topics like child development, education, and teaching methods. Upon completion of the Alternative Route to Certification, prospective teachers obtain their master’s degree and full certification.

Specifically, Connecticut’s intensive Alternative Route to Certification program is designed for professionals looking for a career switch to the state’s public school system.

Those enrolled in Connecticut’s ARC program must have academic or professional experience in a critical state-shortage area, and they attend ARC classes in the summer and on the weekends.

Connecticut Requirements for Special Education Teachers

As stated by the National Center for Education Statistics, special education students make up more than 12% of the state’s student population in Connecticut.

Consequently, the Connecticut State Department of Education and its Bureau of Special Education employ an estimated 5,370 special education teachers.

Prospective special education instructors seeking certification in Connecticut must complete a minimum of a 36-hour program with content containing fieldwork and required core subjects in:

  • The growth and development of exceptional children
  • Children with disabilities
  • Gifted children
  • Children who may require special education and
  • Working with special needs children in a neurotypical classroom

Connecticut’s Department of Education posted a pre-approved list of courses that meet the above requirements. If a student has previously participated in a class that is not on the pre-approved list, they may submit their course description and syllabus for review.

Advancing Your Special Education Career

Many special education teachers choose to enroll in continuing education courses or a master’s degree program, in order to maintain certification and advance their career. A master’s degree in Education covers advanced topics, theory, and practice for special education teachers looking to develop their skills and techniques in the classroom.

The Master’s in Education (M.Ed.) degree at Goodwin University, for example, trains current and future special education teachers in the Universal Design for Learning framework. The curriculum focuses on reducing and removing cognitive, intellectual, organizational, and physical barriers to students’ success.

Goodwin’s M.Ed. curriculum covers compelling courses in effective learning environments, contemporary issues in urban education, instructional coaching, and more.

The investment in graduate education often pays off for teachers—and is a top reason many teachers go on to pursue a master’s degree. According to the CONNCAN Teacher Database, teachers with a master’s degree makes $4,000 more annually, on average, than teachers with only a bachelor’s degree.

A Flexible Platform for Your Future Profession

You may be worried about balancing a master’s degree with your current schedule or career. You may be concerned about the time commitment to complete an M.Ed. degree program.

The flexible M.Ed. coursework is a joint program offered by Goodwin University and the University of Bridgeport. Among an inclusive cohort, courses are delivered entirely online — so students can earn their degree on their schedule.

Fit for those with family responsibilities and students working full-time, Goodwin’s M.Ed. program can be completed part-time, in as few as 12 months.

Special Education Teacher To-Dos

M.Ed. admission requirements differ per program and institution. However, Goodwin University is career-focused and all about convenience — and you can complete your M.Ed. requirements in under ten simple steps!

The added Goodwin advantage for approaching M.Ed. graduate students?

The University’s Teaching Leadership program does not require GRE scores for admission!

Special Education: Career Sectors & Compensation

Special education instruction is estimated to increase by eight percent from 2020 to 2030, with 38,600 openings projected each year over the decade.

Special education teachers can find well-paying careers instructing preschool students, children in kindergarten and elementary school, middle school grades, and learners in secondary school.

2021 National and state median teacher salaries are listed below.

  • Preschool special education teachers

National median wage: $62,420

Connecticut median salary: $74,120

  • Kindergarten and elementary school special education teachers

National median wage: $61,640

Connecticut median salary: $78,310

  • Middle school special education teachers

National median wage: $61,820

Connecticut median salary: $81,260

  • Secondary school special education teachers

National median wage: $62,120

Connecticut median salary: $80,420

If you are patient, excel in communication, have practical critical-thinking skills, and enjoy collaborating with others — a satisfying career as a special education teacher could be for you!

Are you ready to inspire and instruct in the classroom?

Click here to learn more about a meaningful M.Ed. career!