Hi everyone, I’m at a huge crossroads in my life and I really don’t know what to do. I have a degree in Political Science, and it’s gotten me nowhere other than the fact that it’s a degree and I graduated with high honors. I’ve started working more in education and did some childcare programs, some nannying, then I worked in a therapeutic behavioral school for a year as a Para. I absolutely loved this experience and I learned so much, and I decided that teaching was something that I loved and that I was good at. I live in Illinois, and my state has a program where it pays for any degree in Sped, so my masters program this fall is completely paid for. It will last 3 years. However, the other piece is that I LOVE working outdoors. I love working with kids, adults, everyone outdoors and showing people that Illinois is more than just cornfields and Chicago. I have this dream to integrate Sped practices and inclusive education into outdoor spaces and build an outdoor therapeutic program for kids with ACES/trauma or sensory issues or behavioral issues. I feel so drawn to this field. My dream is to head up an education program at a Nature center.
So, my question is, do I need to do this Masters Program? It’ll make me more hireable and I would make a higher salary, and having formal teaching experience is something that a lot of these job applications are asking for. I know that experience is another way to break into the business but it’s increasingly hard to find a job right now.
On top of everything, I just moved into my first apartment by myself and it’s… expensive. So whatever job I find is gonna have to pay me more than the $15/hr I was making as a Para, and I can’t waste time doing whatever while I’m in school or I’ll go completely broke. 👍
For all of you that have gone through this and forged your own paths, what do you think? Should I do the masters program and get the licensure? Or should I try my luck at finding a job first?
4 thoughts on “I’m 25, I’m about to go back to school to get a Masters in Sped, but I really don’t know if it’s the right thing to do. Please, any advice!!!”
Try any and everything before committing to the classroom. You can tell by the mass exodus of educators that it is not an ideal place to be especially right now. Nothing more painful than giving years of your life to get certified in something that realistically sucks and is draining and you will likely want to leave. SPED is especially draining because there is a shortage in every state, leaving most in the field with overburdened caseloads.
I have a SPED Masters, and no longer teach. The experience of four years in New York’s D75 and the techniques of behaviorism have always been infinitely valuable since I acquired them.
I think it depends on your state. If you live in a blue union state, you can probably get a position you are comfortable with. Look at how your state funds schools and pays teachers. You will do better in a state that values education. I am a recently retired SPED teacher from a blue state and there are still good positions available in the state.
If anything, you’d be able to have a more meaningful impact, as well as a liveable pay-package, if you were to go into educational psychology. Your therapeutic program for kids is far more likely to get off the ground and be taken seriously then, and your degree may even allow you to design that as you go. You’ll have much less say in directing your career in SPED, especially in the US. That being said, it doesn’t look feasible now with your current situation since that one will not be paid for and probably require a full undergraduate degree. I’d maybe hold off a year and see how your situation is then while you think about your options some more.