The Art of Special Education Administration

Looking for career advancement? Becoming a special education administrator is one way of taking your career to the next level.

Characteristics of an Effective Administrator

There are some general qualifications employers look for when seeking someone in administration. Some of these qualities are:

  • Overseers. An administrative role requires strong managerial skills. Special education administrators oversee teachers and principals from various schools. They can also be responsible for the oversight of members in a school district to ensure they are complying with federal, state and local regulations.
  • Leaders. Strong leaders create an environment for success. Leaders set a positive vision of direction for their employees. They invest in developing people and help them utilize their strengths and skills.
  • Experienced Teachers. To become an administrator, it is important to have experience in the classroom. Good teachers are at the core of a solid and successful school system. Walking in another’s shoes is a great way to understand what employees face daily. Being in the classroom also provides hands-on experience in understanding students and learning.
  • Problem Solvers. Special education administrators are faced with a variety of challenges. So having strong problem-solving skills is critical to their role. Problems solvers can look at issues in unique and innovative ways. They shape the environment by using resources creatively so plans can be carried out effectively.
  • Decision Makers. Being an administrator requires complex decision making. Decisions on how to spend money, productivity, training, and the effectiveness of programs are all things a special education administrator may face. Taking an active role and being confident in decision-making abilities creates a more secure workplace.

Education and Wages

teacher talking to students in hallwayA higher level degree is required for those seeking an administrative role. But with today’s technology, furthering one’s education is easier than ever. Online programs offer flexibility for the working student. Students can easily work when it is convenient for them while still receiving the support and guidance of professors in their degree program.

Getting this higher level degree can pay off when it comes to salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the median salary of an educational administrator was $92,510, well above that of a special education teacher.


Administrators in special education have a range of duties. At the center of all those duties is making sure student’s needs are being met. Other duties include:

  • Strategic planning. Each school has a mission and a vision. Strategic planning is simply the roadmap of how to accomplish this. A special education administrator will help create measurable goals in order to meet the mission and vision of the school. This helps ensure the program’s success along the way.
  • Monitoring budget. Administrators are responsible for planning the budget and making sure the program is operating within those limits. They think of ways to operate more efficiently as well.
  • Compliance. Special education is held to rules and regulations set by federal and state governments. Funds are allocated for specific areas and purposes. The role of administration is to make sure the way the money is used is documented and used properly and resourcefully.
  • Improving academic outcomes. It is critical to the success of a school system to make sure improvement is happening. A special education administrator can look and see if standards are being met academically. This analysis can be used to encourage change or continue to implement strategies that are working on a wider platform.
  • Guidance. Support is critical for teachers, principals and other administrators. Effective special education administrators will help mobilize others. As they travel to various schools, they will offer encouragement, help troubleshoot problem areas, and carry out plans.
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