An associates in special education degree 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 autisms, special education professionals must prepared to manage any number of challenges that may arise in the classroom. An associate degree in special education features courses in autism behaviors, classroom management, reading techniques, mental disorders, and more. Since special education assistants must work with disabled students, they need to be empathetic and patient.

Why an Associate Degree?

An associate degree in this subject 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 degree program instead.

Getting Into an Associate Degree Program

Most associate degree programs require students to meet a basic number of requirements. Some of the common admission requirements in special education associate degrees include:

  • A high school diploma or its equivalent
  • SAT or ACT scores

Inside a Special Education Associate Degree Program

An associate degree in special education should take a fulltime student no more than two years to complete. In this program, students will complete courses that explain 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, development disorders, physical disorders, and numerous others. The knowledge gained from an associate degree program will help students attain entry-level careers in special education classrooms.

An associates in special education online is unique in that students can complete their courses online without ever having to attend a brick-and-mortar school. Students who have personal commitments or fulltime jobs often consider a virtual degree 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 degree programs are qualified to accept positions as teacher’s aides in a variety of schools. The BLS reports that teacher aides earn an average of $23,220 a year. 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 teacher’s aides’ positions are expected to increase 15% over the coming years.

An associate degree is a great preparation for a bachelor’s degree in special education. A bachelor’s degree in this subject is enough to qualify students for teaching positions in special education classrooms. Students who desire to work in administration commonly pursue a master’s degree 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.