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May 2013
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How to Work in the Health and Special Education Industry

If you’ve been tossing around the idea of working in special education or the health industry, but can’t decide on just one of them, you’ll be relieved to know you can choose both. Many jobs utilize the skills and knowledge people have for these disciplines, and the integration of them can be highly rewarding.

How to Get Started

Many students interested in pursuing work educating those with a developmental delay in a healthcare setting will start with an education degree with a specialization in special education or a related degree. With this degree, many people will seek a special education certificate and work in a school to gain experience working with this population.

To cross over to the healthcare industry, many people will then go back to school to seek a health related graduate degree. For those that want to work directly with patients, a master’s degree in nursing will be sufficient. This teaches them the knowledge and skills they need to administer medication, take vital signs, and respond to emergency medical situations. With the experience working in the special education field, many people work in residential treatment centers and other institutions that provide housing and education to children and adolescents with special needs (emotional, mental, and physical).

Some people after working in the special education field for a while decide they would rather be an administrator to influence the health system’s care of individuals with special needs. These influencers seek a master in health administration. They learn how to run a healthcare business, manage employees, and how to create and implement procedures to introduce changes to the system.

Special Education Graduate Degree Holders

Some people do not realize they want to work in healthcare until after they have already sought their graduate degree in special education. The problem is that special education masters programs do not educate students to work in the health field as a nurse or administrator. Many people in this situation will either go back to school for a second graduate degree in nursing, or they will attempt to seek employment in the healthcare setting working in a position that doesn’t require a master’s degree in nursing or health administration. These jobs are rare, but some employers will consider special education teachers if the setting includes programs that could utilize their expertise.

If you’re interested in working in the special education and health industry, consider seeking your undergraduate degree in special education, and your masters in a health related degree program. With these two degrees, you can position yourself as a prime candidate for the career you can only dream about now.

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