5 Reasons to Earn a Master’s Degree in Special Education

Misty Hance
Misty Hance
Assistant School Principal; Ed.D. in School Leadership, Carson-Newman University, TN

Educators who set out to work with students with special needs already know the benefits of this job. They work with students across the school, and sometimes even across the district. They see the difference they make in their students’ educational progress, and they embrace the challenges and relish in the unique personalities of them. However, there are many reasons for an educator of special education to return for a graduate degree. Here are five reasons to earn a master’s degree in special education.

High Demand for Special Education Educators

Currently many districts across the country are noting a need for teachers in the field of special education. While some of this may be due to a shortage of educators seeking jobs in this area, it is mainly due to the increase in students qualifying for special education. In many states there is a smaller teacher-to-student ratio in special education. However, with the increase in qualifying students, more teachers are needed to keep this ratio low to ensure individual progress.

Due to the high demand, some districts and states offer grants and scholarships for teachers willing to return to school for a master’s degree in specific special education fields. This benefit may help entice teachers considering a career in special education to return to graduate school for a specialized endorsement.

Increase in Salary

In most school districts, earning a graduate degree means an increase in salary. Additionally, with the shortage, some districts are offering bonuses and higher salaries for educators willing to work in this field. Oftentimes, it also can help a teacher advance to a professional license and takes the place of needing to earn professional development points (PDPs) in order to keep your license current.

Promotions and Security

A master’s degree in special education can provide the opportunity to promotions within many school districts. In fact, with this degree, you might apply for district-level jobs. If your degree allows you to gain a new special education endorsement, it will also broaden the areas in which you will be able to teach.

Career Opportunities

Gaining a master’s degree can broaden your endorsements and allow for more career opportunities. Some of the endorsements available in special education include:

  • Gifted
  • Early Childhood
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Interventionist
  • Comprehensive (CDC)

Impact on Students with Special Needs

One of the most fulfilling reasons for earning a master’s degree in special education is the knowledge and strategies you will gain to impact student learning. Because it is a graduate degree, you will gain a deeper understanding of how students with special needs learn and what you can do to differentiate your instruction so that each child can reach his/her potential. In addition, you become an advocate for students and their families. You learn their specific needs and can help parents navigate the educational and health care systems for their child’s benefit.

The investment of time, energy, and affection spent on students with special needs has great returns. Seeing the progress on a daily basis make earning a master’s degree in special education worth the time and expense.

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