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Career and Education Opportunities for Special Needs Teachers in Birmingham, Alabama

Special needs teacher career and educational opportunities abound in Birmingham, Alabama. There are currently 2,180 working special needs teachers in Alabama; this should grow 26% to 2,740 working special needs teachers in the state by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for special needs teachers are expected to grow by about 19.6%. Special needs teachers generally teach elementary and preschool school subjects to educationally and physically handicapped students.

The average wage in the general category of Special Education jobs is $19 per hour or $44,137 per year in Alabama, and an average of $22 per hour or $49,620 per year nationwide. Incomes for special needs teachers are better than in the overall category of Special Education in Alabama, and better than the overall Special Education category nationally. Special needs teachers work in a variety of jobs, including: remedial reading, math, or other subject teacher, cross-categorical special education teacher, and assistant teacher.

There are fifteen schools of higher education in the Birmingham area, including two within twenty-five miles of Birmingham where you can get a degree to start your career as a special needs teacher. Given that the most common education level for special needs teachers is a Bachelor's degree, you can expect to spend about four years studying to be a special needs teacher if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Special Needs Teacher

In general, special needs teachers teach elementary and preschool school subjects to educationally and physically handicapped students. They also includes teachers who specialize and work with audibly and visually handicapped students and those who teach basic academic and life processes skills to the mentally impaired.

Special needs teachers attend staff meetings and serve on committees, as required. They also maintain accurate and complete student records and ready reports on children and activities, as required by laws and administrative regulations. Equally important, special needs teachers have to attend professional meetings and teacher training workshops to maintain and improve professional competence. They are often called upon to teach socially acceptable behavior, employing techniques such as behavior modification and positive reinforcement. They are expected to talk with other staff members to develop and schedule lessons promoting learning, following approved curricula. Finally, special needs teachers modify the general education curriculum for special-needs students based upon a variety of instructional techniques and technologies.

Every day, special needs teachers are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they understand what others are saying to them even in a noisy environment.

It is important for special needs teachers to teach students personal development skills such as goal setting and self-advocacy. They are often called upon to perform administrative duties such as assisting in school libraries, hall and cafeteria monitoring, and bus loading and unloading. They also guide and counsel students with adjustment or academic problems, or special academic interests. They are sometimes expected to collaborate with other teachers and administrators in the development and revision of preschool or elementary school programs. Somewhat less frequently, special needs teachers are also expected to administer standardized ability and achievement tests and interpret results to establish students' strengths and areas of need.

Special needs teachers sometimes are asked to supervise and plan assignments for teacher assistants and volunteers. They also have to be able to visit schools to tutor students with sensory impairments and to confer with teachers regarding students' special needs and modify the general education curriculum for special-needs students based upon a variety of instructional techniques and technologies. And finally, they sometimes have to decide on, order, issue, and inventory classroom equipment and supplies.

Like many other jobs, special needs teachers must have exceptional integrity and believe in cooperation and coordination.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Birmingham include:

  • High School Special Education Teacher. Teach secondary school subjects to educationally and physically handicapped students. Includes teachers who specialize and work with audibly and visually handicapped students and those who teach basic academic and life processes skills to the mentally impaired.
  • Kindergarten Teacher. Teach elemental natural and social science, personal hygiene, and literature to children from 4 to 6 years old. Promote physical, mental, and social development. May be required to hold State certification.
  • Special Education Teacher. Teach middle school subjects to educationally and physically handicapped students. Includes teachers who specialize and work with audibly and visually handicapped students and those who teach basic academic and life processes skills to the mentally impaired.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Special Needs Teacher Training

Samford University - Birmingham, AL

Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, AL 35229-2240. Samford University is a small university located in Birmingham, Alabama. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,469 students and an admission rate of 89%. Samford University has a master's degree program in Education/Teaching of the Gifted and Talented which graduated seven students in 2008.

University of Alabama at Birmingham - Birmingham, AL

University of Alabama at Birmingham, Administration Bldg Suite 1070, Birmingham, AL 35294-0110. University of Alabama at Birmingham is a large university located in Birmingham, Alabama. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 16,149 students and an admission rate of 85%. University of Alabama at Birmingham has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree program in Special Education and Teaching which graduated nine and thirty students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Adapted Physical Educator: Persons who are eligible to become a CAPE fall into three categories; Recently graduated, qualified Physical Education Teachers; Professional Physical Educators (> 10 years full time experience); and Academics.

For more information, see the National Consortium on Physical Education and Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities website.

LICENSES

Teacher, Classroom

Licensing agency: AL Department of Education
Address: P O Box 302101, Montgomery, AL 36130-2101

Phone: (334) 353-8567
Website: AL Department of Education

LOCATION INFORMATION: Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama photo by Eric_in_SF

Birmingham is located in Jefferson County, Alabama. It has a population of over 228,798, which has shrunk by 5.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Birmingham, 81, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Birmingham cost $187,300 on average, which is well above the state average. In 2008, one hundred thirty-two new homes were built in Birmingham, down from two hundred thirty-two the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Birmingham are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and health care. The average travel time to work is about 24 minutes. More than 18.5% of Birmingham residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.6%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Birmingham is 12.5%, which is greater than Alabama's average of 10.7%.

The percentage of Birmingham residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 60.1%, is more than both the national and state average. Williams Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Westminister Presbyterian Church and West End Methodist Church are all churches located in Birmingham. The most common religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Birmingham is home to the Mineral Park Municipal Golf Course and the Cooper Green Golf Course as well as Avondale Mills Park and Smithfield Historic District. Shopping malls in the area include Acipco Shopping Center, Altadena Square Shopping Center and Parkway East Huffman Shopping Center. Visitors to Birmingham can choose from Marriott Hotel Birmingham, Rime Garden Extended Stay Suites and Studioplus for temporary stays in the area.