Teaching is a profession that is both rewarding and challenging – particularly true for special education teachers. Working with students who need additional support can be satisfying yet emotionally draining, which likely contributes to the high turnover rate. Some sources estimate a 75 percent turnover rate for special ed teachers every 10 years, with 50 percent leaving their jobs within five years. Fortunately there are a variety of ways for people with special education experience and training to make a difference outside the classroom.
Here are some special education jobs that don’t involve teaching:
Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant (LDT-C)
- Assess/diagnose students with learning difficulties, assist in the development of IEPs (individualized educational programs) and plan or implement instructional programs.
- Support special education students by identifying their specific needs and ensuring they are met.
Requires completion of a graduate-level program, usually 24 to 33 credits – in addition to a master’s degree and often several years of teaching experience. (Note: This role is not found in every school district; research opportunities in your specific area.)
Special Education Advocate
- Advocates represent students (and their families) and speak on their behalf in the educational setting.
- Plan, implement and monitor an educational plan for the student — serving as the student’s voice if any problems or concerns arise.
No specific training or certification is required by law but it is a good idea to pursue additional training with a specific focus on advocacy and special education regulations. The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates has a variety of helpful resources and training opportunities.
- Share your expertise or experiences related to a specific educational topic or challenge.
- Package your services in the format you prefer. Options include seminars, workshops or as-needed support.
- As a self-employed consultant, you decide when and where you want to work.
No additional credentials are required beyond a special education teaching background.
- Work as a self-employed freelancer scouting your own clients or sign up as a contractor providing services through a company such as Sylvan or Tutor.com.
- Flexible schedule: You decide when and where you want to work.
Teaching experience and credentials are usually all you need — but some companies/clients will pay higher rates for tutors with special training or advanced education.
- A good option for those who are comfortable staying in the traditional school setting but don’t want to teach students directly.
- Job titles range from special education administration to more general education roles such as vice principal.
A master’s degree – including degree programs offered online – is a good start. You may then need to bolster your degree with specific administration-related training or certifications, depending on the position.
- Lead fundraising efforts at organizations that assist children or education-related causes.
- Good fit for those with persuasion skills or those motivated to use their winning personalities toward a positive goal.
Skills and experience are usually more important than educational degrees but training specifically related to fundraising is a valuable asset. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis offers certification programs in areas such as Fund Raising Management as well as customized training options.
- A big departure from an educational environment, this is an attractive option for those with specific expertise who are eager for a major change.
- Various career paths including writing training guides for teachers, developing curriculum materials and training educators (high potential for business travel).
Varies based on role and hiring company. Employment notices will offer details.
Teachers who feel the need for a change can pursue a number of career paths that still allow them to provide valuable contributions to children’s education beyond the classroom. For those who want to support children with special needs in a non-teaching role, these special education job alternatives may provide the perfect solution. Learn more about alternative special education careers.