5 Special Education Degree Concentrations

Working in special education can be one of the most rewarding jobs out there. Seeing children with disabilities make significant strides forward is just one of the many benefits that those with one of these degree concentrations get to enjoy once out in the field. Of course, it is a challenging field too as special education teachers usually need to be even more flexible and patient than is asked of other teachers at the school.


Young ones with autism tend to withdraw from people and instead focus on objects and their own thoughts. Speaking and otherwise communicating with others can prove to be difficult for these children. Experiencing a change in their routine can be very upsetting as well. For these reasons, having a patient, understanding teacher is essential, especially since simply introducing you into their lives is a significant, stressful change for them. This concentration presents an opportunity for you to learn more about autism and how to best interact with and teach those who have it. Being structured and firm – but gentle – goes a long way to bettering their lives.

Assistive Technology

Technological devices and tools are often used by special education instructors to assist them while teaching those with special needs. In fact, technology tends to be used more in special education classrooms than others due to the wide variety of learning needs that exist there. Assistive technology can also be a great help in helping personalize instruction for these children, a feature that is especially important for special needs students. Examples of assistive technology include reading skill software, interactive books and software that helps teach them about daily living and money management skills.

Early Childhood

This concentration helps prepare future instructors to teach young children with special needs up to about 8 years old, the exact age range depending on the state and on the university offering the concentration. These first few years of a child’s life are essential to the rest of it, so those who focus on early childhood will know that their impact will be an exceptionally meaningful one. Among the challenges awaiting those earning this concentration and entering the field is learning to communicate with young ones who may be having difficulty communicating with anyone.

Severe Disabilities

This concentration prepares students for the unique needs of children with severe disabilities or a combination of several special education disabilities. These children require intensive support and specialized instruction as they prepare for adulthood and, if possible, independent living. One-on-one instruction also tends to be more pronounced for those working with students who have severe disabilities. Of course, a considerable amount of patience and persistence is a desired trait for those who complete this program and enter the field.

Visual Impairment

A number of students have visual impairment, which has sometimes occurred suddenly and other times was the result of a gradual vision loss. Either way, the vision loss will have adversely affected an individual’s ability to perform academically in school. Those teaching these students will, if possible, help them navigate around a classroom, conceptualize objects and operate educational tools such as computers and calculators. Helping them use their other senses to understand what is being taught and, if possible, helping improve the vision quality are important things to do as well.

Regardless of what concentration you decide to go with, know that you will be helping many of those who need it the most. Although the work will be especially challenging at times, it tends to be very rewarding too.

Related Resource: 30 Best Schools for a Master’s in Special Education Online