Special Ed Credential: Requirements of a Special Ed Credential Program

Published Apr 30, 2010

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A special education credential prepares students to work with mildly to severely disabled students. Those who decide to go into this field complete a bachelor's or master's degree (depending on the state) with a year of student teacher training in special education.

Special Education Career Summary

Special education can be broken down to teachers who work with mild to moderately disabled students and those who are specially trained to work with students with moderate to severe disabilities. Special education teachers work specifically with students who have emotional, physical or cognitive disabilities. Within the field of special education, there are nine general categories:

  • Early childhood special education
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Gifted or talented
  • Mental retardation
  • Physically handicapped
  • Learning disabilities
  • Visually impaired
  • Deaf or hard of hearing
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder

A credential program may focus on all, some or one of these categories as determined by the college and the state's board of education. Special education teachers not only need formal training; they also need to be organized, patient and calm. Exact requirements for a special education credential vary by state, and students can find out more about their state's exact requirements through the university's College of Education or by contacting their State Department of Education.

Preparation for a Special Ed Credential

A special education credential can be conferred at the bachelor's, post-bachelor's or master's degree level. This is dependent upon the requirements of the state where the student is going to school. Students must first complete their bachelor's degree in the chosen discipline before beginning their special education training required for their credential. Since the special education credential requires working in a classroom with students, most states require a health exam, which may include a tuberculosis test and various vaccinations.

Special Ed Credential Programs

Special education credential programs require students to work with special education students in a school or other institution under the supervision and instruction of an experienced teacher. Most credential programs take approximately one year, with the student taking on more and more responsibility in the classroom as time goes on. This classroom experience builds upon courses in education and special education that a student has taken previous to (and sometimes concurrent with) their student teaching experience.

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