Special Education Certification vs. Master's Degree?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by rookieteacher:), Aug 21, 2011.

  1. rookieteacher:)

    rookieteacher:) Companion

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    Aug 21, 2011

    Hello!

    I was hoping for a little advice. I put this post here because I wasn't sure if there were any other teachers who had or were looking into Special Education that are also regular education teachers.

    I am currently a certified 6-12 Broad Field Social Studies and I am looking into getting my Special Education certification. I am finding there is a certification and a Master's degree program. Is one better then the other?

    I have not found a job (I graduated in January and have been subbing while applying in two states) yet so I wasn't sure about getting my Master's degree before getting a teaching job. I have heard rumors schools do not want to hire new teachers with Master's degrees because they have to pay them more. I have also heard this is a myth so I am not sure.

    I have thought about Special Education through-out my college certification. I am interested in learning disabilities. I have worked with students with disabilities and handicaps before and found that I enjoy working with students.

    I have requested for more information from a few different online colleges. (Western Governors, University Phoenix, and St. Josephs University) Any other suggestions or opinions on programs?

    Any advice you have would be very much appreciated. Since it is a big decision I could use all the help I could get!

    Thank!!
     
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  3. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    The masters degree thing isn't so much a myth as a regional issue. Around here, the most desirable districts give preference to teachers with masters degree; two in fact flat out either require or "recommend" them when applying.
     
  4. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    I would want to go for the masters so I would have a bigger paycheck.
     
  5. rookieteacher:)

    rookieteacher:) Companion

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    Interesting. I will definitely look more into the Master's program! Thanks!
     
  6. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Is one a lot more involved or more costly than the other? In my experience, having a masters degree before having a job is a negative thing. However, as mentioned previously this can be a regional thing. If I were going to put the time and money into going back into school and they were similar time/price I think I'd go with the masters so at least if you find a job you'll make that back with a higher salary. However, if the masters is significantly more time/more costly I'd just go with the certification. I know in my district they only pay a small stipend for a masters (and I'm sure that will go away with future budget cuts) and it would take me about 10 years to even break even from spending the money to get it.
     
  7. rookieteacher:)

    rookieteacher:) Companion

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    It looks the certification is 27 credits. A Masters is 36. It does look like the difference between a certification and a Master's Degree is over $4600. That's huge especially since this will be out of pocket.

    I would have hoped that a school could have helped me pay someday but I know with budget cuts I'm on my own with this. I think that's why older teachers recommend me waiting until I have a school willing to help before I seek more education. I'm just stuck at a hard place right now.
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Would it be possible for you to do the 27 credits, and then go back for the other masters credits later if you wanted, or is it an entirely different program where classes don't overlap?
     
  9. rookieteacher:)

    rookieteacher:) Companion

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    If I go through the same school it does look like I could complete them at a later day. I am hoping a representative contacts me tomorrow with more information.
     
  10. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    I agree with what Waterfall said.

    I'm in a program that stops two courses short of a Master's degree if you want just certification. Then, if your GPA is above a set amount at that time, you can request to convert all the credits towards a Master's program, and then you finish the two classes. I can't remember what the first class is, but the second is solely a paper.

    My adviser's general suggestion is finish the bare minimum, teach for a year or two, then come back the third year and finish the Master's. (I'm assuming this is his polite way of saying wait until you have tenure, but who knows how much longer that'll be around.)

    Good luck to you.
     
  11. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Here is what I suggest: check out the DOE report cards for schools that you would like to one day work at. Scroll through and check out the % of teachers with various degrees: most schools in my part of Virginia have a very high % of teachers with masters degrees, and a smattering of phds.

    If you don't see such a pattern in your area schools, get the certificate (I wouldn't enroll in a certificate program that didn't co sit of credits also applicable to a masters), teach for a while, then finish the masters. Otherwise, I would do the masters now and use any elective room to take things that could give you an edge later like ELL, GT, speech, extra educational psychology, or educational technology classes.

    If you could also add another endorsement, like English, so much the better. I've seen posting for English + Social Studies with a fair degree of frequency.
     
  12. rookieteacher:)

    rookieteacher:) Companion

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    I will check out the report cards. Thanks!

    It does look like all the credits will work towards a Master's Degree so that is a positive. I wonder if I could pick a certain area like ELL or GT. That I would have to do more research in.

    I have noticed a lot of Language Arts and Social Studies pairings. I wasn't offered a job because the school decided last minute that they wanted the LA certification and I didn't have that. I would have to figure out how many more English/Writing courses above the ones I got for my Bachelors degree I need to have to reach the minimum credits.

    I do need to add something because just having Social Studies isn't cutting it in this job market. I need something that sets me apart and I do believe another certification help me with that.
     
  13. rookieteacher:)

    rookieteacher:) Companion

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    It looks like the school I am also looking at has a reading certification that is only 10 credits. The credits can again go towards a Special Education Master's at a later time.

    The program is the Wilson Reading Program. Has anyone ever heard of it? The link where I am getting my information is below.

    http://www.sju-online.com/programs/wilson-reading-program.asp
     
  14. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    I went with getting Special Education Certification and then finishing out the MA program once I got a teaching position. It was just a few extra credits to finish the MA.
     
  15. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    You might also want to check for what will make you "highly qualified". I don't know about where you are but in Alabama we have to be "highly qualified" to meet that No Child Left Behind mess and just about means a Masters. I think you can take the praxis test but I'm not really sure... just something else you might want to check on...
     
  16. rookieteacher:)

    rookieteacher:) Companion

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    It sounds like the program I am looking at can get my Spec Ed certified as well as reading cert. Then all I would have left is 3 classes to get my Masters. They are even letting me choose an area such as Autism to specialize in.

    I agree with all the great advice. I will get my certification before I get a Master's degree. I already called the state of IL to check they are fine with the process I am going through because ultimately I will be ending up there.

    It's just price that seems...well pricy. The Master's degree without financial aide (of course I'll apply for it) is $24,000.
     
  17. jcar03

    jcar03 Companion

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    I have a bachelor's in special ed and had countless interviews this summer but no luck securing a job so far. A special ed degree is not a ticket to a job. My certification is ages 3-21 and we don't specialize unless you are going into vision impairment.
     
  18. rookieteacher:)

    rookieteacher:) Companion

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    That is true. Thanks for letting me know. I hope you find a job soon jcar03!
     
  19. rookieteacher:)

    rookieteacher:) Companion

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    Aug 24, 2011

    So it looks like I have two options after doing some research. I can pay $25,000 for two certifications that would equal a Master's (Saint Joseph's University). Or I can pay $15,000 for a Masters (Western Governors University). Both would allow me to work with struggling readers though only one would actually give me a reading certificate.

    I'm trying to make a pros and cons list but both have good things. One saves me over $10,000 and one gives me a specific certification. Both equals a Masters and the plan is I hope a school hires me BEFORE I finish. Both also use financial aid so I would have loans for help me pay.

    Another pro of Western Governors University is they allow me to learn at my one pace. They charge one flat rate and the more classes you get done the faster you can finish. This is nice because I am self motivated and the fact I can save money by working hard is a good incentive.

    I have looked into the report cards but I don't have a specific area since I am moving in nine months and don't know exactly where we will settle down. So many what if's...
     
  20. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Jcar, do they not have hearing impairment on there anymore? My BS is in that. My MS is in LD. Now everything is collaborative... throwing all into one basket.
     
  21. roll

    roll Rookie

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    Wilson - when I was completing my special ed internship I used the Wilson program. The teacher had attended a few days of training but had no reading degree - just elem and special ed. Of course extra certs always make you more competitive.

    Re getting a Master's - I got a Master's in special ed because that's the area I want to work. If you're getting a degree to give you an edge in a gen ed classroom, you may want to major in something else. It just seems to me that you'd want your graduate degree to reflect your desired profession. Not sure of that though.
     
  22. roll

    roll Rookie

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    My program included everything except vision and hearing. I know the district where I interned had only a few of each teacher for all the schools and they'd travel from school to school.
     
  23. rookieteacher:)

    rookieteacher:) Companion

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    I'm sorry if it came off that I am only getting this degree to get a job. I have worked with students with handicaps and disabilities and really enjoyed the experience. I have volunteered in a classroom where students had severe disabilities for a year and through working at a daycare I have worked with two students who are Autistic and EBD. I decided on this over a language arts certification because while I do have a passion for teaching History I also feel I could do a great job working with students who have special needs.

    Now that I realize this job is something I really enjoy I am trying to find a program that will meet my goals and needs the best.
     
  24. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Some states allow you to add a reading specialist endorsement on by just taking an additional praxis if you're already certified in something else. Have you looked to see if this is a possibility in your state?
     
  25. Ms. I

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    In my state of CA, I needed an Education Specialist credential, which I have in mild/moderate disabilities (others may have a moderate/severe credential). A Masters isn't mandatory, but looked upon nicely. I have a Masters in Education w/ emphasis in Special Ed too. Having a Masters looks nice, maybe over a certification, but that's just my opinion.

    Good luck!
     
  26. rookieteacher:)

    rookieteacher:) Companion

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    Thanks for all the advice!!!!!

    I have found a Master's program that seems to fit my lifestyle. I have also been lucky enough to have an opportunity for it to be paid in full so there is no out of pocket.

    It's been a hard decision because I have heard so many different opinions. The career counselor at my undergrad school said that I would be hurting my chances of getting a job while a principal I know said that they hire based on the best person for the job, not the degree.

    For now I just have to see what the future brings. :) Thanks again for the help!
     
  27. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    When I had the choice, I went for my master's degree. For my field, Early Childhood/Early Education that went further than going back for teacher certification in ages 0-5. So glad I did as many of the higher paying jobs I have had since then specifically require a master's degree in EC.
     
  28. rookieteacher:)

    rookieteacher:) Companion

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    One of the pieces of advice I got was to go back and get another undergrad degree. I just couldn't think about spending money reserved for my Master's Degree going to another undergrad degree and later on going out and getting my Master's for even more money. I would be drowning in debt. :eek:
     

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