A Masters in Special Education salary can be very lucrative for those who graduate with this degree. The Masters in Special Education degree provides students with a sound understanding of physical, mental, and learning disabilities that commonly occur in school aged children and adolescents. Students learn the nature of the conditions and various factors that affect the disabilities. They learn about effective teaching methods and ways to modify lesson plans and curricula to help children reach their maximum potential.
Special Education Course topics commonly include human growth and development, applied behavior management, special education teaching methods, and literacy for special education. Many programs require either a thesis or student teaching experiences. The University of Texas and Ball State University are examples of top Masters in Special Education programs. The program at the University of Texas is a 36-program program intended for individuals who are currently working as K-12 teachers. Students can choose from six hours of elective courses, like bilingual education or other approved specialties. Ball State University’s program enables students to collaboratively work with schools and students can complete the degree in fewer than 18 months if they choose the accelerated track.
Details About Masters in Special Education Salary Ranges
The demand for special education teachers continues to persist, generating an abundance of job opportunities and impressive salaries to match. During the 2015-16 school year, the National Coalition on Personnel Shortages and Related Services revealed that 49 of the 50 states in the U.S. reported special education teacher shortages. During this time, 6.4 million children (ages 3-21) in the U.S. were enrolled in special education programs.
As of May 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported special education teachers in the United States earned an average, annual salary of $56,800, although the top 10 percent earned significantly more, at $90,260.
Special education teachers are in the most demand because of population growth and more and more children and adolescents requiring special education services. Special education instructional coordinators are also in high demand to oversee the special education curricula and teaching standards. These professionals work with special education teachers and other staff to implement new teaching methods to improve the overall quality of special education.
People with a masters degree in special education can maximize their Masters in Special Education Salary in various ways. One way is gaining sufficient experience in the field. Many special education professionals start out as special education teachers and then move up to higher positions after a certain period of time. For example, many special education instructional coordinators have previous experience as special education teachers. Specializing in a certain disability is also helpful for special education professionals to boost their pay. Those who focus on hearing or physical disabilities earn an even higher Masters in Special Education Salary because they have the ability to focus specifically on a certain individual to help improve learning experiences. A Masters in Special Education salary is rewarding for individuals seeking to make a meaningful impact on the lives of children and adolescents with special needs.
Factors Influencing the Salaries of Special Education Teachers
As expected, salaries for special education teachers vary quite a bit based on setting and location. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the following annual, average salaries for special education teachers, according to setting and grade level:
- Secondary School: $58,500
- Middle School: $57,280
- Kindergarten and Elementary School: $55,810
- Preschool: $53,990
- All other: $53,920
BLS data revealed that across the nation special education teachers can earn considerably more, with factors like experience and education contributing to salaries that are well above average. Shown here is the range of salaries for special education teachers earning within the 75th to 10th percentile (top 25 to top 10 percent):
- Secondary School: $74,860-$94,200
- Middle School: $72,310-$89,820
- Kindergarten and Elementary School: $70,220-$86,990
- Preschool: $71,280-$91,280
- All other: $70,660-$90,420
In addition to experience and incentives for advanced degrees, special education teachers that take jobs in shortage areas may also be eligible for additional incentives.
For example, the Texas Association of School Boards reported an average, annual salary of $52,090 for teachers as of the 2015-16 school year. However, educators in the Lone Star State may earn significantly more if they meet certain qualifications:
- Shortage stipends: Because Texas is experiencing a shortage of special education teachers, districts in the state often offer an annual stipend of $1,676 for those working in general education classrooms, while those working in self-contained special education classrooms receive an annual stipend of $1,989.
- Master’s degrees: Most districts in the U.S. pay more for teachers with a master’s degree, and Texas is no exception. About 72 percent of districts pay teachers an annual stipend for holding a master’s degree in their subject area. The average stipend for teachers with a master’s degree was $1,116, as of the 2015-16 school year. However, those with a master’s degree in their subject field earned an even higher annual stipend of $1,748.
Salaries for Special Education Teachers in Elementary, Middle, and Secondary School Settings
According to BLS statistics, salaries for special education teachers vary according to the state and city in which they work and the grade level they teach.
Kindergarten and Elementary School Special Education Teachers
As of May 2015, the top-paying states for special education teachers working in kindergarten and elementary settings were:
- Connecticut: $79,120
- Alaska: $73,920
- New York: $71,040
- Rhode Island: $69,020
- California: $68,690
The top-paying metropolitan areas for special education teachers working in kindergarten and elementary schools were:
- Waterbury, CT: $88,730
- Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY: $87,150
- New Haven, CT: $85,030
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk: $85,030
- Kingston, NY: $82,890
- Fresno, CA: $81,430
Middle School Special Education Teachers
As of May 2015, the BLS reported the top-paying states for middle school special education teachers to be:
- New York: $78,280
- Connecticut: $71,950
- Alaska: $71,460
- Rhode Island: $69,060
- New Jersey: $68,400
The top-paying metropolitan areas for special education teachers working in middle schools during this time were:
- Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY: $99,860
- Dutchess County-Putman County, NY: $87,030
- Kingston, NY: $82,760
- Waterbury, CT: $79,980
- San Rafael, CA: $78,480
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT: $77,860
Secondary School Special Education Teachers
According to the BLS, as of May 2015, the top-paying states for special education teachers in secondary school settings were:
- New York: $79,030
- Alaska: $76,970
- Connecticut: $75,770
- California: $74,360
- New Jersey: $72,890
The top-paying metropolitan areas for special education teachers in secondary schools during this time were:
- Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY: $99,600
- Kingston, NY: $86,200
- Waterbury, CT: $84,150
- Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA: $84,070
- Fresno, CA: $82,980
- New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-N: $80,080