The demand for specialists in the field of education continues to grow. One area that requires a master's degree is special education. This area allows specifically trained educators and coordinators to work with students who have academic and behavioral needs, as well as colleagues who might need training in special education. Having a master's degree helps professionals get placed in administrative positions in the elementary and secondary school setting, as well as at the collegiate level as mentors and instructors.
A master's degree in special education is a good qualification for a position as a mentor or coordinator in the classroom. Usually, these positions are within elementary or secondary classrooms. Coordinators are responsible for making sure that special education or resource teachers are collaborating to meet the needs of special service students. This might include overseeing the special education program or setting up all building-wide meetings or training. Additionally, the position might entail preparing IEPs (individual education plans) for students. Having a master's degree is essential when it comes to the amount of information and communication that has to be transferred and organized. The degree prepares special education coordinators with the right tools to maintain a leadership role.
In addition to working as a coordinator for the school district, you can use this master's degree on the collegiate level, acting as an instructor for future special education teachers. These positions require a higher-level degree, while also taking advantage of an experienced instructor's knowledge from years in the classroom. Instructors may also be responsible for making classroom visits to undergraduate special education students, who are completing the student teaching portion of their degree. Acting as a mentor, the visit would include an observation and important feedback about how to improve or maintain skills in training.
An option for a special education professional looking to branch outside of the classroom is to prepare and facilitate workshops for districts or professional development. Districts are often looking for new strategies and team-building ideas to bring into their schools. A master's degree in special education would qualify one to conduct these workshops. A workshop might be themed around helping schools understand the components needed at school for the best interests of the children in need.
Speech pathology also requires a master's degree. A speech pathologist's job is to work with students on pronunciation, rhythm and fluency. An important element is for the pathologist to develop individual learning methods for the students. Because a great part of this field deals with background in physiological and psychological connections, a higher-level degree is mandatory. Speech pathologists do not only work with students. Often they are in contact with parents and help families understand and track the progress of their child.
A master's degree is also needed to work as an occupational therapist. Occupational Therapists work in the school setting with students who might have physical disabilities. They work in the practice of "inclusion," which is a method of helping students with disabilities be as much a part of the regular classroom setting as possible. This might include visiting the classroom or bringing into the classroom special items or equipment that make it possible for the student to participate.
Randi McCreary has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been featured in "Black Praxis" Second Edition, the NoMoreSilentCries anthology, "Present Magazine," "Riseup Magazine," and "Essence." She is the author of "Sweet.Water.Horizion" and is a tenth year educator with a B.A. in English from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's in education from Avila University.