Special education jobs in Ohio
June 25, 2012 8:02 PM   Subscribe

What are the job prospects for a special education teacher in the US (specifically Columbus OH)?

I’m a teacher and am trying to get a feel for the job market in the US, specifically Columbus, OH. I am qualified both as a special education teacher and regular education teacher with a Masters of Education.

I used to live and work in Columbus, but have been living in Australia for the last 8 years. When I left Columbus, I had been working as a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) tutor for 4 years, a job I really enjoyed. Here in Australia, I worked fulltime as a special education teacher for 5 years in Australia. I’ve just taken two years off to care for a family friend, but would like to relocate to Columbus and get back to teaching. My concern is that it may be difficult to get a job as a teacher, given the economy. My age (around 60) also probably doesn’t work in my favor.

So I’d like to get a feel for how easy or difficult it would be to find a job as a special education teacher, especially SLD tutor, if possible. If it would be difficult, are there any other related fields/jobs I could consider? E.g. In my youth I used to work as a social worker with mentally handicapped people, and would be happy to do that again.

Many thanks.
posted by cestlavie to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here is the rough hierarchy of demand for the various types of teachers in the United States. I am 100% certain that it is true for my home region (the Pacific Northwest) and about 90% confident that it will be more or less the same throughout the rest of the nation:

1. The top three certifications-- if you have one of these you can definitely find a job this year, and quite probably pick your school district and possibly even your specific school-- are Math, Science and Special Education. All are in high demand, but probably math is highest, followed by special education, and any of the sciences (biology, chemistry, earth science, general science, physics, etc) a very close third.
2. Next comes Career and Technical Education. My own field-- Technology Education-- is top in this tier, followed in varying degrees by other CTE groups like Agriculture, Business, Keyboarding, Home Ec, etc. Next are language teachers, who have particularly good prospects if they speak Spanish. Also in this category are middle school math teachers, who have high demand, but can't quite find a job in five minutes anywhere they want like a high school math or physics teacher can.
3. Then comes the ones who will struggle to find jobs-- Social Sciences, English, and the least demand-- Physical Education and coaching. A lot of people would like to teach these subjects, and there are few vacancies.

Honestly, my concern is not for your age, although Ohio may have some sort of restriction I'm not aware of. My concern would be that even with a Masters Degree in Education, there will be some hoops you have to jump through to be certified to teach in Ohio. Here in Washington State, where I am familiar with the process, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Education has a fairly rigorous set of requirements that have to be met. We have certification tests that have to be taken-- West-E, West-B, etc, Student teaching requirements, specific coursework in education that must be taken, etc. There will be something similar in the Midwest. I think your critical path is finding out what the certification requirements are, and how much of your (Australian?) education will transfer over. If you are lucky, maybe there are equivalency agreements, and Ohio will say "Oh, a teacher from Queensland? You are 100% good to go." But maybe not. Find that out first!

Finally, speaking from personal experience, teaching is a second career for myself as well, started in my mid-40s. In my field, Technology Education (used to be called Industrial Education) there is demand for any teacher, so age is not so much an issue. For Special Education I feel like that is going to be doubly true as well. So then, don't worry about age-- worry about specific certification. And if it is what you want, go after it! It will take me two more years of schooling to get my teaching certification after I got out of the Navy last year, but I have never been happier. I sincerely hope this change brings you the same amount of satisfaction and joy. Good luck!
posted by seasparrow at 8:48 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know much about special ed specifically, just teaching/public employment more generally.

Are you willing to work in one of the suburban districts? From what I can tell, Columbus Schools is in quite a bit of flux, but some of the suburban districts are better off. My sister has a few friends who have been able to get teaching/tutoring jobs in Pickerington, Reynoldsburg, etc.

We still have not resolved that school funding thing you probably remember from when you were here before.

This is NOT a good time to try and get a job with ODJFS, from everything I've heard, but there may be other agencies that deal specifically with developmental disabilities that don't show up in the papers laying people off.

We have had a lot of chaos in the public sector the last three years here, and the closer you get to working for the state itself, the less confident I would be, personally, about finding a position.
posted by SMPA at 4:13 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd agree that understanding Ohio's licensing/certification requirements is the very important first step.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:14 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Columbus City Schools District, does not appear to have any current teaching openings, with the exception of a PT Middle School reading teacher.

You might have better luck with parochial or private schools.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:38 PM on June 26, 2012

Thanks so much for the comments, advice and encouragement. Sounds like with a little ground work there's a good chance of finding something.
posted by cestlavie at 4:25 AM on June 27, 2012

Thanks everyone for your comments. I do have Ohio teaching certification credentials. I reactivated my credentials on a visit to Ohio.
posted by cestlavie at 4:51 PM on June 27, 2012

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