Licensing is required to teach special needs students in all states, so a Certificate in Special Education might benefit individuals pusuing a career in the field. Special credentials have various requirements, and certification with professional organizations such as the National Association of Special Education Teachers might be a potential path.
Sometimes the difference between special education certificate programs and certification can be confusing. A certificate program provides educational training on a specialized topic, for which you receive a certificate after completing the required courses. Whereas, professional certification is a voluntary process in which you are assessed by a professional board or entity to see if you meet a predetermined and standardized criteria (which often involves passing an exam) to practice in the field.
Special Education Certificate Programs and No Child Left Behind
While earning a graduate certificate in special education might not be a professional requirement it might be a great professional development tool. When the No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2001, it outlined minimum qualifications for teachers including: a bachelor’s degree, full state certification and demonstration of subject-matter competency1. As such, some states now require that certified or licensed teachers log a certain amount of continuing education credits each year—and enrolling in special education certificate programs may be a way to help meet these requirements2.