What is the Salary Potential in Special Education?

Special education is a unique method of teaching that deals with helping students with certain disabilities learn and develop to their fullest potential, and many aspiring teachers wonder what the salary potential is for teachers working in special education. As a result of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, special education is offered to children in the United States free of charge. However, the schools still need teachers certified in special education, and the salary potential often plays a role in choosing this career. Here is some salary information for special education teachers at different grade levels.

Salary Potential for Kindergarten and Elementary Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers working with kindergarten and elementary school students earned an average annual wage of $63,110 as of a May 2018 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Their wages ranged from $39,980 to $95,730. Below are the states where the highest wages were paid to kindergarten and elementary special education teachers followed by the states where the lowest wages were paid.

  • California – $80,370
  • District of Columbia – $78,830
  • New York – $77,840
  • Oregon – $76,880
  • Connecticut – $76,780
  • West Virginia – $42,400
  • Oklahoma – $42,630
  • South Dakota – $43,760
  • Arizona – $44,590
  • Utah – $46,320

Salary Potential for Secondary School Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers working with secondary school students earned an average annual wage of $65,320 as of a May 2018 report by the Bureau. Their wages ranged from $40,560 to $98,290. Below are the states where the highest wages were paid to secondary school special education teachers followed by the states where the lowest wages were paid.

  • New York – $84,350
  • Oregon – $78,830
  • California – $82,380
  • Connecticut – $77,520
  • Alaska – $77,210
  • South Dakota – $43,040
  • West Virginia – $43,820
  • Oklahoma – $45,530
  • Alabama – $46,810
  • Utah – $46,820

Salary Potential for All Other Special Education Teachers

The BLS reports that special education teachers working with students, not in the kindergarten, elementary, or secondary school group earned an average annual wage of $60,750 as of May 2018. Their wages ranged from $34,970 to $96,100. Below are the states where the highest wages were paid to secondary school special education teachers followed by the states where the lowest wages were paid.

  • Oregon – $79,820
  • Virginia – $76,310
  • Michigan –$ 76,090
  • Rhode Island – $75,220
  • Georgia – $71,780
  • Vermont – $37,600
  • Arkansas – $38,670
  • New Hampshire – $43,070
  • Colorado – $45,400
  • Oklahoma – $45,580

Factors Affecting Salary Potential for Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers are very much in demand and very low in supply. Because of the great demand for special education teachers, wages are very good. Several factors can determine the wage potential for special education teachers. All teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree and complete an internship before they can get their teaching license. Aspiring special education teachers will complete an internship working with special education students.

Many choose to advance their education and earn a master’s degree and special education certification in the grade in which they wish to teach. Special education teachers with master’s degrees tend to earn higher salaries. The more certifications the special education teacher has, the higher the wage potential. Other factors affecting their wage potential include the school district, years of experience, and geographic location.

Working in the area of special education can be challenging yet extremely rewarding because the teachers are not only helping to shape the minds of students but also working with students who might not otherwise be able to learn quite so easily. Knowing the salary potential for special education can make the career even more promising.

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