A recent article from U.S. News and World Report cites two “hot education careers” for students who want to “think outside the box.” Auburn University’s College of Education happens to offer top-flight undergraduate and graduate programs in both of these areas.
The main emphasis of the article is on transition services for young adults. In the world of special education, transition is a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that focuses on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child who is transitioning from school to post-school activities, including community-based employment.
According to the article, “transition services is just one area among several offering opportunity in the special-ed field, which besides classroom teachers also includes case managers and occupational therapists. Median pay for teachers is about $55,100, slightly higher than for most other teaching disciplines; according to the Department of Education’s latest teacher shortage survey, nearly all 50 states report a lack of qualified professionals.”
Dr. Karen Rabren, director of the Auburn Transition Leadership Institute, agrees.
“The need is great,” Rabren said. “At our recent transition training sessions we heard stories from all across the state about the pressing need for more counselors, teachers and job coaches. We are contacted quite often by school districts in Alabama and other states about their need for our graduates.”
The College’s Department of Special Education, Counseling, and Rehabilitation offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees in several specific fields related to special ed, counseling, and transition services. The Department even offers a Graduate Certificate in Transition Specialist, and has outstanding distance education options.
The Transition Specialist certificate program meets a unique training need in Alabama and other states, according to Dr. Caroline Dunn, Co-Director of the program.
“In schools today, as students with disabilities spend more of their time in general education classes, it is more challenging than ever to find time to teach life skills. The CATTS training program provides teachers and others with the knowledge and skills to design programs that address both the current academic needs of students as well as their future employment, postsecondary education and community living needs.”
The U.S. News article also emphasized the need for preschool teachers. Sixty percent of the states increased funding for pre-K programs for 2013-14. “As researchers demonstrate the lasting economic and social benefits of preschool and politicians push universal access, the need for educators to work with students ages three to five is expected to swell by 17 percent in the decade ending in 2022.”
“Our Early Childhood pre-service teacher program is excellent at both the undergraduate and graduate levels,” said Dr. Kim Walls, Department of Curriculum and Teaching Head in the College of Education. “Because of the excellent preparation our program provides, our graduates are teacher leaders throughout the country, advocating for age-appropriate early childhood education. They teach children in schools, future teachers in college, and current teachers in state educational organizations. I am also pleased to see that the national media recognize the importance of early childhood education. Our students are already in great demand, and they almost all have jobs upon graduation and certification.”