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How to Become a Special Education Teacher in Georgia

According to U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education, Georgia has two teacher shortage areas and one of those is in special education. But what does teacher shortage area mean?

The Code of Federal Regulations of the Office of the Department of Education states that a teacher shortage area is “an area of specific grade, subject matter or discipline classification, or a geographic area in which the Secretary determines that there is an inadequate supply of elementary or secondary school teachers.”

Because Georgia has a shortage in only two subject areas, it may be an opportunity for teachers interested in special education to change or advance their careers.

What Does It Take to Become a Special Education Teacher in Georgia?

The requirements for a special education teaching position depend on the job and the institution. For example, Georgia Department of Education’s Division for Special Education Services and Supports requires the Education Program Specialist have the following:

  • Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) professional educator’s certification.
  • Master’s degree in special education.
  • Educational leadership.
  • Five years of experience in a professional education capacity in K-12 special education.

For most roles in special education, Georgia requires a valid teaching certificate issued by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission in the field of special education or a related area. For instance, a teacher at Georgia School for the Deaf would be required to have a GaPSC certification in deaf education, special education or elementary education.

All teaching jobs in Georgia require prospective teachers to complete a Georgia-approved accredited teacher preparation program and have at least a bachelor’s degree. Once they complete the accredited program, they take the Georgia Assessments for Certification of Educators (GACE) in special education or a specialist field, such as special education mathematics and science, deaf education or special educational adapted curriculum.

Those interested in specialist and leadership roles will most likely need to earn a master’s degree in special education or in a related field. These jobs tend to require a master’s, though sometimes it’s just a preference. Having a master’s degree often gives candidates an advantage over those who have a bachelor’s degree and specialist certification.

Which Georgia Institutions Have Georgia-Approved Professional Education Programs?

GaPSC has a list of approved programs that you can search for by institution and subject area. Selecting an institution and choosing “Go” displays a chart with three types of programs:

  • GaPSC-approved programs leading to certification.
  • GaPSC-accepted advanced preparation programs for certificate upgrades.
  • Endorsement programs for certified educators.

GaPSC lists approved bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees for both traditional and online programs. For example, you can look up Columbus State University and see that it offers all three types of programs.

CSU’s required courses for its M.Ed. in Special Education Program are all online. One way to help Georgia overcome its shortage issue is to enroll in an M.Ed. in Special Education program and apply the knowledge in Georgia schools.

Learn more about Columbus State University’s online Master of Education in Special Education.


Georgia Department of Education: Education Program Specialist

Georgia Professional Standards Commission: GaPSC Georgia Approved Professional Educational Programs

Georgia Assessments for Certification of Educators (GACE)

USDE Office of Postsecondary Education

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