An associate in special education teaches students the basic skills they'll need to assist teachers in managing classrooms of students with psychological, behavioral, physical, and/or developmental disabilities. Whether dealing with hearing-impaired students or students with autism, special education professionals must be prepared to manage any number of challenges that may arise in the classroom. An associate in special education features courses in autism behavior, classroom management, reading techniques, mental disorders, to name just a few. Since special education assistants must work with disabled students, they need to be empathetic and patient.
Why an Associate Degree?
An associate in special education teaches students how to function as a teacher’s aide in a special needs classroom. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) emphasizes that teacher’s assistants need at least a high school diploma or an associate degree to qualify for positions. The BLS also reports that aides who work with special needs students must pass a host of certification exams. Students who want to work as special education teachers are encouraged to look into a bachelor’s program instead.
Inside a Special Education Associate Degree Program
An associate in special education should take a full-time student no more than two years to complete. In this program, students take courses that cover how to work with special needs children, their parents, and the special education teachers they’ll be assisting. Some of the conditions teacher’s aides are expected to work with include learning disabilities, communication issues, emotional disorders, behavioral disorders, developmental disorders, and physical disorders. The knowledge gained from an associate program will help students attain entry-level careers in special education classrooms.
The online associate in special education is unique in that students can complete their courses without ever having to attend a brick-and-mortar school. Students who have personal commitments or full-time jobs often prefer this sort of virtual program. Since online students must complete work independently and on a timely basis, they must always meet the demands and expectations of their online courses.
What’s Next for Special Education Associate Degree Holders?
Graduates of special education associate programs are qualified to accept positions as teacher’s aides in a variety of schools. The BLS reports that, as of May 2014, teacher aides earned an average of $26,000 annually. This may seem like a low salary, but the BLS points out that 37% of teacher’s aides happen to work part-time. The good news is that the total number teacher’s aides jobs are expected to grow by 6% from 2014 to 2024.
An associate is a great preparation for a bachelor’s in special education. The bachelor’s is key as it is the minimum degree needed to qualify students for teaching positions in special education classrooms. Students who desire to work in administration commonly pursue a master’s in special education. Students with additional degrees and certifications will not only be competitive candidates for jobs, they’ll also qualify for high-level positions in special education schools.