7 Jobs a Master’s in Special Education Will Get You

For a quick look into the possibilities, check out this list of jobs you can get with a Master’s in special education.

What You Can Do With a Master’s in Special Education

Trying to figure out where you can go next with your career? Check out these possibilities.

Classroom Special Education Teacher

The most obvious job you can get with a special education degree is a position as a special education teacher. For most people who major in special education, this is their end goal.

As a special ed teacher, there are plenty of different ways you can fulfill your role. You may spend most of your time in your own special education classroom. You’ll have the opportunity to work with kids with any number of developmental or physical disabilities.

In some cases, you may serve as a resource teacher. In this case, you could offer a hand to students with disabilities in average classrooms. Some students can function in a regular classroom in certain subjects but need a touch of extra help.

It’s important to realize, though, that special education teachers have a high rate of burnout. They leave their profession at twice the rate of other educators. In case you struggle with burnout, it’s comforting to know that there are so many other jobs you can get with your degree.

Educational Diagnostician

Before kids can get their Individualized Education Plan (or IEP) and get into a special education class, the school needs a diagnosis.

With your Master’s in special education, you’ll have the skills you need to make those diagnoses.

In some cases, you may perform formulated tests to assess a student’s abilities. Other times you might conduct therapy-like discussion sessions and use your observations to determine a diagnosis.

You may be able to work for a school, a therapy practice, or another organization in this capacity.

Special Education Advocate

For parents whose child has a disability, the world of special education can be overwhelming. In many cases, they have to fight year after year to get their child the accommodations they need.

As a special education advocate, you’ll help these families in this endeavor. You’ll be able to work with schools to provide the placements and accommodations that fit your clients’ needs.

You can also counsel families about their kids’ rights regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws. As kids grow into adults, you can advocate for them in other stages of life as well.

Special Ed Career Counselor

Most of the jobs we’ve discussed relate to kids with disabilities. These students don’t stop needing services when they turn 18, though.

As a special education career counselor, you can help students with disabilities to take the next steps after they graduate. Some may be well suited to college and specialized careers.

For other students, an entry-level job like working at a retail store might be a better fit. You can help teenagers and adults find fulfilling jobs while helping them through the transition to adulthood.

Teacher Educator

Perhaps you enjoy learning about disabilities but you’re not a fan of teaching young kids. In this case, you could be well-suited for a career as an education professor.

With a job at a college or university, you can educate the next generation of teachers. You’ll be able to teach students who are majoring in special education as well as general education students who need to know how to teach kids with disabilities too.

Some professionals use this as a secondary job as well. You might teach special education or have another full-time job during the day while serving as an adjunct professor in the evenings.

Group Home Advisor

Some people find that as much as they enjoy working with people with disabilities, they don’t like being in educational settings. Rest assured that there are plenty of other places where you can put your skills to work.

One great option is to work at a group home. These facilities are designed for adults with disabilities who need help caring for themselves. They’re similar to assisted living facilities, but their residents tend to be younger.

As a part of the staff, you may be able to help design programs the residents will enjoy. You can also help to train other staff members who don’t have as much experience working with people with disabilities.

Advisor at Non-Profit Organization

As we discussed above, there are many unique challenges for people with disabilities. Fortunately, there are non-profit organizations who are here to help.

At these organizations, you can help to advocate for the rights that people with disabilities deserve. You might do this on an individual level or on a larger scale with legislative changes.

In other cases, these organizations help families secure funding for the therapies they need. It’s shocking how rare it is for health insurance to cover most services for people with disabilities. You can help with fundraising efforts and grants to give people the funding they need to improve their lives.

Setting Up Your Career with a Master’s in Special Education

Kids and adults with disabilities can be an absolute joy to work with. There is a special light they carry, and those who have the privilege to work with them are an honored few.

A Master’s in special education will set you up to work with these people in a variety of settings and capacities. You could stick to the education realm or you may prefer to branch out. Either way, your degree will give a strong earning potential and plenty of options.

For more help with your special education career, check out our special education resources.

Celebrating Developmental Disabilities

From 2014 to 2016, there has been a spike in developmental disabilities among kids ages 3 to 17 from 5.76 percent to 6.99 percent. Which is why it’s never been so important to ensure that positive attitudes and behaviors are waiting for these children when they attend school.

Unfortunately, negative attitudes do arise in the educational system for children with developmental disabilities, whether it’s in the classroom or the cafeteria.

Understanding the “why” is the first step towards fixing this and creating a healthy learning environment for all children. Here we will be discussing where negative attitudes and behaviors toward children with disabilities stem from, how to intervene, and what proactive measures can be taken as a community.

Attitudes Towards Children with Developmental Disabilities

There have been a number of studies diving into the negative attitudes behind the perception of children with developmental disabilities. Unfortunately, this research has been aimed more towards the general public and not specifically geared towards teacher or counselors.

However, recent studies have shown us that both students and teachers share in a negative attitude towards children with disabilities. It was found in one 2004 study that while the majority held a neutral attitude towards children with disabilities over 20% had a negative attitude with females being slightly more negative than males.

Behaviors Towards Children with Disabilities

While it may seem natural that these attitudes would bleed over into the behaviors towards children, studies found that the majority of those with negative attitudes maintained indifferent behavior. However, in cases where negative behavior from teachers or counselors was expressed, there was a much higher rate of bias and discrimination.

It was also found that teachers with negative attitudes towards children with disabilities admitted to expecting low achievement from the students along with inappropriate behavior. In turn, this leads to more negative behavior from teachers.

Understanding the Source

It’s important to know where this negative attitude stems from if we are looking to repair it and give all students an equal chance with equal support. The source of these attitudes come from several areas. The first is cultural. Culturally children with disabilities are not well represented within the media, creating skewed stereotypes for our culture as a whole.

Second, and perhaps the most important reason, is that throughout the course of their training teachers and counselors only have a small fraction of their lessons geared towards children with disabilities. This creates a feeling of being unprepared among school staff.

Outcomes for Children

It would be naive to believe that negative attitudes and behaviors toward children with disabilities hold no negative outcomes for the students. Often, students will internalize these negative attitude and carry them over, causing them to affect the remainder of their education, their employment possibilities, social relationships, and even their physical health.

Since children tend to live up to the expectations of those around them, teachers expecting negative actions or inappropriate behaviors from the students will often receive just that, blaming the student for the results and not their own negative attitudes.

How to Intervene

The good news is, we can change this. As an advocate for students with disabilities, it’s vital that intervention is used whenever negative behavior or attitudes are represented. This doesn’t mean intervening only on a situational basis, but when it comes to events, materials, or experiences that portray a bias against children with disabilities.

This can be utilized by volunteering for school-based activities and lessons or creating a panel within the school personally dedicated to the treatment and behavior towards children with disabilities.

Training School Personnel to be Mindful

The majority of teachers truly want what’s best for all of their students, however, they simply seem unprepared or unsuited for the job in cases of children with disabilities. We can avoid these issues by insisting on changes being made to counselor and teacher training that is adapted towards the emotion, mental, and health needs of children with disabilities.

This can also be implemented on a smaller scale with mandatory conferences and meetings that directly teaches staff the best way to engage with children with disabilities.

Intervening with Students

It’s important that these changes are also mirrored with the students that attend the school. The students are the peers and the community for children with disabilities, and the behavior they receive from this group will either be a great benefit or detriment.

For this reason, it’s important to create an inclusive space for all children, teach students how to hold positive behavior towards their peers and work to overcome false stereotypes they may see in the media.

Embracing Disabilities on a School Wide Level

By choosing to educate those who educate our children, we can create a more dedicated and understand culture throughout the school. This means everyone from counselors to coaches understands the importance of creating a loving, accepting, and inclusive behavior for all students.

There can also be additional efforts in screening for negative attitudes towards children with disabilities during the original hiring process, to help maintain a supportive and cooperative community within the school.

Resources for Children with Disabilities

There are a number of resources available for those looking to reframe the behavior towards children with disabilities in their school. Teachers and counselors can increase their knowledge of special education through an online course, videos, or ebooks.

There are a number of Universities that even offer Masters programs for special education, to help equip teachers with the necessary skills and attitudes. The more that can be absorbed and applied by school staff the better the environment for all of our students.

Celebrating Children with Developmental Disabilities

It’s important to remember that we have just as much to learn from children with developmental disabilities as they do from us.

As parents, teachers, and allies it’s our job to create a safe and supportive space for children to receive the education and guidance they deserve. This begins with a strong educational core for our staff and extends out to teaching proper behaviors and attitudes for every student.

Developmental Disabilities Month

It’s not always easy being, advocating for or working with people with disabilities. Even with all the attention special education and individual needs are getting on a national level.

Part of the battle for people with disabilities is getting people to see them, not just their challenges. We see that through people classifying people with disabilities as “the handicapped”, “the disabled”, and even worse terms.

The problem with those classifications is that they put the disability before the person. Vocabulary aside, the community is working on addressing public awareness.

They do this through Developmental Disabilities Month. The month of March has themes that the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities creates each year to bring people with disabilities to the forefront.

Learn how this tradition got started, what a typical month is like, and what last year’s theme held below.

The History of Developmental Disabilities Month

Though it’s hard to have a disability now, it was even harder forty or fifty years ago. Back then, instead of treating people with disabilities like humans, they threw them into institutions. These institutions were like jails and many people were abused both emotionally and physically.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s when we saw a decrease in institutions that society took notice. It was President Ronald Reagan who declared March Developmental Disabilities Month.

With this, people began to learn more about people with disabilities and professionals started to do more research. A large number of advocacy groups were formed in the following years and still exist today.

But what is the point of Developmental Disabilities Month (DDM)? According to Regan himself, it’s to “increase the public awareness of the needs and potential of Americans with Developmental Disabilities”.

And while the themes change every year, the purpose hasn’t changed since. As people become more and more aware, we’re moving away from the visibility part of the equation. Instead, we focus on how to show that people with disabilities deserve inclusion and equal treatment.

A Typical DDM

Each time March comes around, the people at NACDD have spent months and weeks getting ready for the event. They need to figure out a theme, four sub-themes, and activities that go along with each.

A potential theme could be something about helping people see the similarities between someone with and without disabilities. We’ll go into last years theme in detail later.

The theme would have a name, potentially “Inclusion and Innovation” or something like that. Within that theme, the people who plan the month create sub-themes. There are four, one for each week of the month.

Sub-themes are a way to divide something as big as inclusion into easier-to-chew pieces. The purpose is to start conversations, go through activities, and bring attention to a way that people with disabilities are being underserved.

With the development of social media, we’re seeing more people engage with DDM than ever. Each year there are hashtags and prompts for posts that feature the theme.

Though, yes, there are some nasty comments sometimes, the majority of social media posts stay positive. Many people use this as a chance to engage friends and family members that are unaware of daily struggles.

Schools and centers that work with developmentally disabled students often have special events. It’s a time for the community of people with developmental disabilities to rally together. There’s power in numbers and the community shows that every year.

DDM 2018: See Me for Me

In 2018, the national council decided on the theme of “See me for me”. The purpose of this theme was to help those without disabilities see through someone’s challenges.

Like anyone else, people with disabilities want to be seen as the person they are, not as their disability. And the monthly sub-themes of the month went with that.

2018 Sub Themes

The sub-themes divided the months into physical places. Where do we see people with disabilities and how can we do a better job to treat them like everyone else in that part of our lives?

Week 1

For example, week one was “see me as your classmate”. This week focused on education and the ways people with disabilities show up in schools. Yes, they have different ways of learning and different needs, but there are more similarities than you’d think.

Some schools and classrooms focused on engaging with the general school population. Others used this week to advocate for more funding and resources for special education departments.

For those who don’t know the in’s and out’s of special education, teachers showed how they create individual learning plans to help their whole classroom.

What are successes like for each student? For the class in general? The creativity of special education teachers should not go overlooked.

They spend their days creating fun and engaging activities that teach people with disabilities. One person may need that activity in an audio format, while another may need to learn more hands on.

Check out this calendar of suggested activities from last year’s theme for examples.

Week 2

Week two was about seeing people with disabilities as people in the community. How can the general public make the community more welcoming and inclusive for those with disabilities?

How can we do a better job including people with disabilities in public places without focusing on their specific challenges?

Weeks 3 and 4

Week three focused on people with disabilities in the workplace. There are a huge number of unemployed people with disabilities because most employers aren’t willing to personalize the job to fit someone’s needs.

Even now, with legislation in place to stop discrimination, we still see a large unemployment problem.

Finally, week four focused on people with disabilities as our neighbors and our friends at home.

Developmental Disabilities Month 2019

As of this writing, we don’t yet know the theme for 2019. We do know that the national council will put a lot of work into planning it and that we look forward to seeing the results.

If you want help integrating activities from a developmental disabilities month calendar in your community, click here to find resources.

Special Education: Putting You on the Right Path

Special Education – The Right Choice

When pursuing a teaching degree, many college students are faced with the decision to major in elementary education, secondary education with a curricular emphasis, or work with special education students. Making this decision is no easy task, however as a school administrator, let me make a case for why more teachers could benefit from a special education background.

Special Education – A Mother’s Influence

Before I begin telling you about why a special education background could be crucial to a budding career in education, let me tell you about my own special education background. My mother was a special educator for many years in our local school district. While growing up, my mother provided me with countless opportunities to try to understand and work with this often misunderstood sub-group of students within our school systems. While pursuing a teaching degree, I had the opportunity to work in a variety of special education positions that gave me a wealth of knowledge about special education programs, its students, and strategies for working with special education students. As a school administrator, this personal experience has been invaluable to me as I run a school whose special education population accounts for almost 20% of our total student enrollment.

Special Education Develops Patience

The day that anyone decides to go into the education field is the day that they declare to the universe their need for an extra helping of patience. Have you ever had someone continuously make an annoying noise that you can hear? Have you ever had a young child swear at you? Have you ever taught something over and over, yet it remains unlearned by the pupil? These are all situations that occur generally in education, but in special education classrooms, they occur with much greater frequency. When I interview potential teaching candidates, I ask them which character trait is most important for a teacher to possess and more often than not, they respond in the same way — patience. Special education refines your patience to the point that you are able to achieve a zen-like calm regardless of any environmental disturbances.

Special Education Makes You Data Driven

Special education teachers write individualized education plans for their students that detail how a special education student is currently able to perform on specific academic tasks, a plan to improve their academic performance that details specific goals, and lists specific accommodations that the student needs to successfully perform in the classroom. This level of specificity regarding the needs of one student is unparalleled in education, yet all of our students should receive this same degree of analysis. Special education teaches you to plan for your students with this level of specificity that ultimately teaches you how to be organized and data driven in the classroom.

Special Education Teaches Sympathy

Special education is full of opportunities to sympathize with students who are struggling and with parents that are at their wits end. Just like no-one likes a doctor with poor bed-side manner, no-one likes a teacher who becomes jaded to the problems their students experience. Special education teaches educators to be compassionate and caring individuals. As a school administrator, I extremely value my employees that can provide this personal, sympathetic touch that is so sorely needed in education.

Special Education Makes You a Behavior Expert

Behavior management is a crucial skill that all educators must develop and become successful at, otherwise it could spell disaster in the classroom. Special education students can exhibit a wide-variety of behaviors depending on the disabilities they have. This broad exposure to varying behaviors will help educators focus in on the function of the behavior and how best to handle it within the classroom.

Conclusion: Special Education Provides the Right Foundation

Although special education teachers are often cited for having high turnover rates in the education field, I argue that special education is a great place for budding educators to start their careers. It affords people the opportunity to hone and develop so many skills that are essential to be an effective educator. As an administrator I have solved problems, avoided conflict, and helped students learn all because of my special education knowledge. If you’re on the road to a career in education, special education will put you on the right path.

2019’s Best Online Special Education Programs For Advancing Your Teaching Career

The United States desperately needs special education teachers and we’re not being dramatic. Out of fifty states, forty-nine of them report not having enough teachers to fit their needs.

In schools that do have special education professionals, eighty percent of them need more help. Creating a different lesson plan for each student isn’t easy and we need more hands on the ground.

But you know that. You’re willing to help solve this issue, and you’re looking into online special education programs. First of all, thank you and second of all, we’re here to help.

We want to do our part in solving the shortage and educating those who are willing to take on the special education challenge. You’re up for a highly-rewarding career with long days filled with warm fuzzies.

Ready to get started? Check out our guide to the best programs below.

Online Special Education Programs: The Criteria

When you search for a program, there are a few things you need to look for. The first and most important one is accreditation.

Imagine that you went through the years of education and work, just to find out your degree isn’t recognized by the state. That would be devastating.

Making sure you do your research before you apply will keep that from happening.

Second, figure out if you want to start a special education program that’s general or very specific. Many people don’t know what specification or specialization they want to pursue until they finish their general education courses.

If you don’t know what part of special education you’re most interested in yet, don’t worry. That’s completely normal.

Choosing Your (Special) Education Path

There are a few different kinds of masters degrees you can get in special education. They differ from school to school.

For Example, you could get a:

  • Masters of Art in Special Education
  • Masters of Science in Special Education
  • Masters in Special Education with an Autism Concentration
  • Masters in Special Education Licensure
  • Masters in Special Education Leadership and Training

The degree you choose depends on your dream workspace and what you want to do when you graduate. If you’re looking to run your own classroom, then a general Master of Special Education is the right degree.

But if you’d like to work in a more specialized setting, or be a helping professional, like an art therapist, pursue the Master of Art. You know yourself best and you should direct your studies towards where your strengths lie.

Finally, what kind of students do you want to work with? As we get more familiar with autism disorders, we’re seeing more autism focus tracks.

But you can also focus on early childhood education for those with disabilities, or preparing people for society.

Jobs You Can Get with a Degree in Special Education

The first job everyone thinks of is a special education teacher. As we already discussed, we desperately need those in America and all over the world.

There aren’t nearly enough teachers for these students who need extra help.

But teaching isn’t the only thing you can do with a masters or bachelors degree in Special Education. Learn more about teaching and other careers below.

Special Education Teacher

If you do choose to go down the common track and become a Special Education teacher, great! We really need you. The job description of a special ed teacher involves helping make a different learning plan for each student.

In some cases, these are called IEP’s or Individual education plans. They’re a collaborative effort between a school psychologist, the teacher and the child’s parents.

They detail the child’s difficulties and the agreed upon strategies to address them.

As a trained teacher you’ll have the choice between working in the public and private sector. If you live in an area with large populations, you may be able to work in a residential or even medical setting.

The salary isn’t much more than a regular teacher, though one could argue that special education teachers do much more.

The average salary is around $58,000 a year.

Language or Speech Pathologist

You’ll have to pursue some extra training than just bachelors if you’d like to be a pathologist, but the special education degree is a good start.

Pathologists specialize in identifying and fixing speech issues and language patterns. They’ll work with a full range of students or clients, including those without learning or developmental disabilities.

They do make more than a special education teacher, but it takes more training to be one. They can expect to make around $76,000 a year starting out.

As a pathologist, you can work in a range of settings. Schools, hospitals, and even rehabilitation clinics. A lot of pathologists find their work immediately rewarding, as you can automatically hear the difference in a child’s voice.

Early Intervention Specialist

If you like working with young children but don’t have the long-term patience of teaching, you can become an early intervention specialist. You’ll still interact with and help children with disabilities, but you’ll work with a wider range than a teacher in one classroom.

As it sounds, early intervention specialists are the people who help identify learning and developmental disorders right as they start. Or before they start, if steps can be taken to prevent it.

Most intervention specialists work on a team at a specialized tutoring center or hospital, though larger schools or school boards may employ their own.

How to Choose Online Special Education Programs

With an idea of the available degree programs and jobs, they lead to, hopefully, you can approach the idea of Special Education programs with more confidence.

You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do and specialize in before you start a program. You can begin many online Special Education programs on a general track and get more specific as you figure things out.

Want to learn more? We’ve done the research and laid out information on the schools we trust. Find our picks here.

Can You Get a Teaching Certificate Online?

Having a bachelor’s degree doesn’t necessarily mean you can be a teacher. Getting a teaching certificate signifies that you have voluntarily gone much further in your pursuit to become a professional educator and that you have the skills needed to change students’ lives for the better. But what about an online teaching certificate?

Getting your teaching certificate online is equally as valid and valuable as earning one on-campus at a brick-and-mortar college or university. As long as you receive your online teaching certificate from an accredited institute you’ll have the same opportunities as someone who earned a teaching certificate the traditional way. Online teaching certificate programs also have several advantages over traditional certification programs, including the ability to:

  • Work comfortably at your own pace
  • Complete assignments and exams anywhere with an Internet connection
  • Earn your teaching certification while working full-time
  • Network with online learners around the country

Can you get a teaching certificate online? Yes. Should you get a teaching certificate online? If you have a busy schedule and want to change or advance your career without putting your life on hold, the online option is worth considering.

To help you make the decision, here’s a look at some of the requirements for earning your teaching certificate online. Additionally, there’s a bonus look at some other advanced teaching certifications worth pursuing if your aim is to become a leader in the education field.

Bachelor’s Degree Requirement

There are many requirements to become a teacher, and each state has its own unique criteria. All states require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but the major requirements vary based on the level and subject you wish to teach. Likewise, most online teaching certificate programs also require a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university to enroll.

Student Teaching Field Experiences

Online teaching certificate programs offer more flexibility and convenience than on-campus, brick-and-mortar certificate programs. However, candidates seeking teaching certification online may still be required to complete approved and documented field mentorship experiences.

These student teaching experiences usually take place at the end of the program after students have completed all required online coursework. Check with the program you are interested in to find out whether you will be placed in a classroom or will need to set up your own field experience.

Advanced Teaching Certifications

In addition to basic online teaching certificates, there are advanced teaching certifications that can accelerate your career and increase your earning potential as an educator. The National Board Certification, for example, is an advanced teaching credential offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Becoming National Board Certified complements a state’s teacher license. Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree and have three full years of teaching experience as a state-licensed teacher. If you have teaching experience in a state where a license is not required, you must have taught in a school recognized and approved by the state.

Another advanced teaching certification is the Wilson Reading System® Certification. This program equips educators with the skills needed to help students become fluent, independent readers. WRS Level 1 Certification will complement your teaching certificate by preparing you to teach foundational reading and writing skills to children, teens and adults. Furthermore, WRS Level 1 Certification can pave the way for additional career opportunities in teaching as a Reading Specialist, Reading Therapist or Private Literacy Coach.

Take the First Step Toward Becoming a Teacher

If you’re passionate about becoming a teacher, the Online Accelerated Teacher Certification program from Saint Joseph’s University can help you earn your secondary teaching certificate (grades 7 – 12) in just four online semesters. Students can also take two elective courses to receive certification and a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education.

To learn more, call 866-758-7670 or request more information.

5 Jobs in Early Childhood Special Education

A career in special education can be both fulfilling and inspiring. Focusing on roles within early childhood special education can be particularly gratifying, as they provide an opportunity to play a pivotal part in a child’s growth and support at a critical time in their development. 

While working as a special education teacher may be the first option that comes to mind when envisioning jobs in this field, there is a range of professional paths both inside and outside the classroom.

Here are some options for professionals exploring opportunities in early childhood special education.

At-Home Teacher/Tutor 

Not all teaching takes place in a formal classroom setting. For some students, individual circumstances may make it necessary or preferable for them learn at home. Students being home-schooled may also need a trained teacher to augment instruction parents provide. This may appeal if you enjoy teaching but prefer interacting with students on an individual basis.

This role typically requires similar education and training to a classroom teacher, although additional home-schooling certification or other credentials may be required. Pay can vary widely depending on location and whether the teacher is employed through the public school district or a private company. 

The distinction between this role and tutoring is mostly a question of scope, breadth and time commitment.

Tutoring is a great option for special educational professionals who want a less rigid or supplementary work situation. Tutors often have considerable flexibility in deciding when and where they work. These professionals provide help to students who need extra support, generally in more specific concentrations than a teacher’s broader subject instruction. The median pay rate for a tutor is $17.66 according to Payscale.com, although rates can be higher for those with additional training or specializations.

Special Education Advocate

Those who find it fulfilling to champion a worthy cause may want to consider a career as a special education advocate. These professionals represent students and their families, ensuring the students receive educational services they need and to which they are entitled. Advocates often function as a liaison between the student/family and the school district and other organizations that provide special education support services. Payscale.com cites anaverage starting pay rate for educational advocates of $27.75 per hour (though that may be a very small number of reports); such numbers also depend heavily on location, qualifications and other factors.

Special Education Administrator 

Serving as a special education administrator or director might appeal to education professionals who prefer to work in a managerial or administrative role. These staff members are responsible for planning, implementing and overseeing special education programs. A position at this level can affect the education of many students, without actually working in a classroom. 

This type of position typically requires a master’s degree, certification as a supervisor of special education, and/or several years of experience as a special education teacher and/or school administrator. The average pay for a director of special education is $74,412 per year, according to Payscale.com.

Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant

Serving as a learning disabilities teacher consultant (LDT-C) involves assessing the needs of special education students and creating an educational plan to ensure their individual needs are met. This role can offer the satisfaction of knowing you are having a positive impact on a student’s educational growth, without requiring you to run a classroom every day. Only some school districts employ these professionals, and the positions typically require completion of a graduate-level program, such as the one offered at Monmouth University.

Special Needs Guidance Counselor

Special education counselors often serve the function of a typical guidance counselor, with additional focus on students receiving special education services. They may also perform some of the duties of other special education professionals, such as a teacher consultant. This professional role helps ensure the student’s needs are being met, and coordinates services and support resources they may need to fulfill their academic potential. According to SalaryExpert.com, the salary range for special needs counselors is $25,000 to 44,000 annually, depending on experience.

Note: All salary information collected in June 2017. 

Researching these special education job alternatives can help broaden your horizons when considering a future in this field, or contemplating a transition out of the classroom. Learn more about alternative special education careers and get ready to look for the school that’s right for you.

Do Special Education Teachers Get Paid More?

The United States special education program serves about 7 million students. This means that there are a lot of special education teachers needed for this country to run. That number is increasing and has been for a while. The funding granted to special education programs has also been increasing in the last few years.

Special education is an expanding and rewarding career, but passion doesn’t pay the bills, right? If you want to know what the average salary is for a special education teacher, keep reading. There are several factors that play into this, so we’ll explain everything in the paragraphs below.

General Outlook

Unfortunately, special education teachers are in very short supply. Every state but one is suffering from shortages in special education teachers. The only state that did not report a shortage was Oklahoma. This report was from 2011-12. A similar report from 2017-18 states that only 46 states reported shortages for special education teachers, and that one of them was Oklahoma.

Between these two reports, we can draw two major conclusions. The first is that the teacher shortage has been here for several years already. The second is that, if the crisis is even slowing down at all, it is doing so very slowly.

We may also be spending too little on special education. Many would argue that special education has never been a high priority in many school districts. Many are especially worried given recent political developments.

Many are questioning the qualifications and intentions of Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. She has said during interviews that she believes states should decide the rights of a special education student. While there is always a chance that states will rise to the occasion, many don’t believe this will be the case.

If there is any upside to all of this, it’s that special education teachers tend to get paid significantly more than general education teachers at the same grade level. This is true from preschool to high school.

Also, to help combat the teacher shortage, some states have instituted a debt forgiveness program. This program ignores student loan debt for students who study special education or another field where teachers are in high demand.


As a general rule, Connecticut and New York tend to be some of the highest-paying states in the country. The pay scale can be confusing because there’s no set rate. Most of it has to do with how much the state itself has and is willing to spend on education. Thus, teachers in poorer states tend to make less.

This is one of the reasons Oklahoma issued their debt forgiveness program. They didn’t have the money to raise the salaries of special education teachers.

The lowest-earning special education preschool teachers in New York will make about $60,000 per year. Compare this to Rhode Island, where the lowest-earning special education teachers will earn roughly $68,000 per year.

However, the top-earning special education preschool teachers in New York can earn nearly $89,000 per year, while the highest-earning special education preschool teachers in Rhode Island will only make about $76,000 per year.

Some states, such as Connecticut, have higher salaries across the spectrum. Others, such as New Mexico offer low salaries.

Grade Level

If this seems confusing already, it only gets more complex from here. Salary tends to fluctuate with grade level. For instance, a preschool special education teacher in Alaska will make at least $65,000 per year.

Meanwhile, an elementary school special education teacher in the same state will earn at least $75,000 per year. This drops down for middle school level teachers. It drops again at the high school level.

Washington drops about $1,000 from preschool to elementary school, and then another few hundred per year in middle school. However, a high school special education teacher in Washington makes at least $1000 more than preschool teachers.

Yet again, New York stands out. In New York, the payscale grows with the grade level, with the preschool teachers earning least and the high school teachers earning the most.

Area of Expertise

A common misconception about special education is that one special education teacher is enough to manage the whole classroom. The truth is that there may be a few teachers for a single classroom in a relatively small school.

With the population and our understanding of psychology advancing, it has become useful to specialize in a specific kind of psychological or developmental condition.

The current trend is to focus on Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. For some reason doctors still can’t explain, there seem to be more confirmed cases of autism than ever before.

Most special education teachers tend to work with children whose disabilities are considered mild to moderate. This is considered less stressful than working with those whose disabilities are severe.

Special Education Teachers and the Perks of Being One

Being a special education teacher is a very rewarding career and a very important one at that. It gives you the opportunity to work with a great group of children and be there for people who unfortunately don’t have a lot of other people on their side.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the pay tends to be better than for most teachers.

If you want to know more about special education and its various ins and outs, please visit our site. We will tell you about some of the career options out there for someone with a special education degree. We will also help you learn about some of the best places to earn an online special education degree.

Top Paying States for Special Education Teachers

It’s a harrowing but unfortunately all too true reality: 49 states are currently facing a severe shortage of special education teachers.

If you’re considering getting into the field, you likely already know that this national shortage means you’ll be in high demand. Still, the reality is that becoming a special education teacher is as challenging as it is rewarding.

Schools are certainly aware of this — and they’re using salaries as a convincing incentive to encourage more people to get into the profession.

So, what are the top paying states for those entering into the field of special education?

Keep on reading this post to find out.

We’ll also let you know how you can set out on the right career path to become a special ed teacher — and begin making a difference in the lives of your students and their families.

If You’re Teaching at the Preschool Level

First of all, let’s take a look at the top paying states for special education teachers who plan to work at the preschool level.

As you’ve likely expected, working with children who are often too young to completely express themselves regardless of their learning differences can be a challenge.

You’ll need to be intuitive, able to think on your feet, resolve issues that come up between other students, and have lots of patience.

However, working with young children who have special needs is also an incredibly heartwarming and professionally rewarding experience. Many special education teachers get their start by teaching preschool children on a part-time or full-time basis, moving onto older children as their careers advance.

Still, in some states, the salaries are quite competitive.

If you work in Connecticut, you’ll earn an average yearly salary of around $72,000. However, in some places in the state, you can earn as much as nearly $94,000.

You should also consider working in Oregon. The average salary there is close to $74,400, while some teachers in special education can earn up to $90,000 teaching preschool-aged children.

Teaching Special Education at the Elementary Level

Now, let’s examine the potential salaries of special education teachers who work elementary school students.

In most cases, this means working with children who are in kindergarten all the way up to the fifth grade (though it may vary depending on the specific school.)

It’s important that you compare the cost of living in the state where you plan on teaching with the average salary. Remember that what might be tough to live on in one state could be a very competitive salary in another.

Interestingly, special ed teachers who work in Arkansas receive a wonderful salary of anywhere from $75,000-$92,000. Especially when the median income is around $40,000 in Arkansas, you’ll be more than comfortable on your special education salary.

Connecticut also tops the list. You can earn up to $97,000 annually, with the average salary of a special ed teacher at the elementary level resting at nearly $80,000.

The Top Paying States at the Middle School Level

So, what can you earn as a special education teacher at the middle school level?

Given that middle school is a notoriously challenging time for students of all abilities, it makes sense that you can expect some competitive salaries.

When it comes to the middle school level, New York offers the highest rates of pay. The average special education middle school teacher earns about $74,000 a year. In some cases, especially within the independent school system, they can earn over $96,000 as an annual salary.

California also offers some of the top salaries, with an average of close to $69,000 all the way up to $83,000.

Finally, Arkansas makes the list again, with the average salary hovering close to $75,000 and going all the way up to about $92,000.

Special Education Teachers at the High School Level

Finally, let’s examine what you can expect to make if you want to teach special education at the high school level.

The academic and, even more so, social demands of teaching high school special education courses are much more rigorous. However, you’ll also have the wonderful chance to get to know your students on a deep and fulfilling level.

You’re not just teaching them the core subjects. You’ll also be helping them to learn more about who they are as people — outside of just their differences and disabilities.

Teaching at the high school level will also offer you the highest pay rates as a special education professional.

Again, New York and Connecticut offer the highest average salaries.

In New York, you’ll earn an average of $76,000 per year — though you can fairly easily earn up to $100,500. In Connecticut, you’ll earn an average of about $77,000 when it comes to your salary. However, some special ed teachers have earned close to $93,000.

Additionally, Illinois offers competitive salaries. If you want to teach there, you’ll earn an average of about $63,000 per year. However, you could end up earning well over $83,000.

We Need More Special Education Teachers: Are You Ready to Become One?

We hope that this post has helped you to better understand the top paying states when it comes to working as a special education professional.

Are you ready to find the career of your dreams as a special education teacher? Would you like to learn more about how you find an online school where you can earn your Master’s in special education?

Need tips and tricks when it comes to classroom management, teacher burnout, learning sign language, and much more?

We’ve got you covered.

Let our website serve as your ultimate guide to every step of your career in special education.

5 High-paying Special Education Jobs

You don’t always have to choose between a fulfilling career and one that pays well. For those who want to work in the field of special education while also earning a high salary, there are ways to meet both goals. Though it can take an upfront investment of time and money to earn the prerequisites (including advanced degrees) toward one of these five high-earning special education jobs, it’s still possible to make a good salary while helping children in need live their best lives.

1. Speech and Language Pathologist

Speech and language pathologists, also called speech therapists, support students with speech disorders and impediments in schools, hospitals and private practice. The median annual salary for speech and language pathologists was close to $74,680 in 2016 and ranged from $47,070 to $116,810. Experts such as Carrie Clark design resources and activities to support the families of children with speech challenges. 

2. Educational Audiologist

Of the best-paying special education jobs, this can be one of the most specialized. Educational audiologists work with hearing-impaired students in schools and clinics and help them achieve success in the classroom. Educational audiologists earned an annual mean salary of $76,720 in 2016.Audiologist salaries range between $50,490 and $113,540.

3. Occupational Therapist

In schools, clinics and hospitals, occupational therapists work with children both long- and short-term to help them overcome challenges resulting from physical and psychological disabilities. In 2017, occupational therapists earned a median income of $82,833. Some, like Dr. Frederick Covington, specialize in using technology to help children with special needs perform better in academic settings. 

4. Special Education Teacher

Special ed teachers work with schoolchildren who have a wide range of disabilities. These can include autism, emotional disorders, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities or speech disorders. They earn a median income of $52,497 annually and a special education teacher salary can range between $40,703 and $64,290, depending on the school district and grade level they teach. 

Whatever the salary, working with students with special needs can be remarkably rewarding and challenging. Read special education teacher Kyle Redford’s Twitter feed or her articles in Education Week for a glimpse into the life of a special education teacher.

5. Child Psychologist 

Child psychologists study and trace behavioral patterns in children. Those who work with special needs children focus on the impact of their disabilities on their lives and education. These professionals operate in private practice and/or full-time in schools and earn a median salary of $66,918. Some choose to move into lifestyle and behavior coaching, like Dr. Kevin Fleming. 

In general, special education jobs may not pay as well as the financial sector, but some areas can actually garner a high income. Whether you are motivated by salary or not, the rewards for professionals in these roles can be numerous. 

Note: All salary information retrieved in April 2017.

Learn more about special education careers both inside and beyond the classroom.