Special Education Teacher Salary In the United States

Special Education Teacher Salary

A crucial consideration for individuals pursuing a career as a special education teacher is the special education teacher salary.

A special education teacher is dedicated to working with children of various ages with special needs. The students may face cognitive, emotional, or physical challenges. These professionals can be found in specialized classrooms or resource centers specially designed for students with special needs.

Alternatively, they may work in inclusive classrooms, collaborating with general teachers to offer attention and unique approaches to support the optimal development of children with special needs.

Special education teachers are known for creating individualized education programs (IEPs) to establish goals and monitor each student’s progress. Additionally, they collaborate with other educators and counselors to plan lessons and generate reports. Regular communication with parents regarding their child’s progress is also a standard aspect of their role. 

Special education teachers are appointed to cater to the educational needs of diverse students, often considering the pivotal aspect of special education teacher salary to attract and retain dedicated professionals in this field.

How do I become a Special Education Teacher?

If someone aims to pursue a career as a special education teacher, there are specific steps and procedures to follow. Understanding the aspects related to special education teacher salary is crucial among these steps. Some of these steps are mentioned below; let’s have a look:

Obtain a bachelor’s degree: 

Acquire a bachelor’s degree in special education or consider pursuing a two-year bachelor’s course after completing a bachelor’s degree in any category.

Undertake an internship: 

The individuals need hands-on training by participating in an internship program focused on working with children with special needs. This experience helps individuals become familiar with their teaching responsibilities, school procedures, and policies.

Specialize in a specific area: 

Pursue a master’s degree in special education to specialize in a particular area of special needs teaching. This advanced degree provides comprehensive training in curriculum development, teaching program design, and the implementation of effective teaching methods.

Important Skills of a Special Education Teacher

There are a few skills that need to be mastered by special education teachers. We have researched and mentioned some of the most essential skills. These critical skills essential for a special education teacher are mentioned below; let’s have a look: 

Time management: 

Effectively managing multiple tasks, including assisting children, evaluating progress, and preparing reports, is one of the most important skills required for a special education teacher to get employment in the USA.

Positive and energetic approach:

Adopting a positive and energetic approach to engage and motivate children with special needs who may require additional time to grasp concepts.

Critical thinking and social perceptiveness: 

Applying critical thinking skills to identify effective methods for enhancing a child’s learning experience.


Strong communication skills are crucial for instructing children with diverse special needs and communication styles. Effective communication is vital for collaboration with other stakeholders, including general teachers, parents, physical therapists, social workers, and counselors.

How Much Does A Special Education Teacher Salary In The USA?

Special education teachers play a crucial role in supporting students with diverse disabilities and addressing physical, mental, and emotional challenges. While specific requirements for these educators vary by state, a typical path involves obtaining a bachelor’s degree in education, completing a specialized student-teaching program for individuals with special needs, obtaining state certification, and many more.

When looking into a career in special education and exploring aspects like the special education teacher salary, it’s also important to learn about grants available specifically for educators in this field. These grants can help, offering financial support and complementing your salary knowledge. In our detailed guide you can discover top available Grants For Special Education Teachers.

As of the latest data of December 2023, the median annual salary for special education teachers is $62,130. However, this figure is subject to variation based on several factors, including geographical location, school type, and the teacher’s specialization in special education. A breakdown of median salaries underscores distinctions between public and private school special education teachers: 

  • The median salary for public school and special education teachers is around $59,720.
  • The median salary for private school special education teachers is around $51,300.

Additionally, the age group of students taught can impact a special education teacher salaryIn 2022, middle school special education teachers earned a median salary of $62,950 per year, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The compensation for special education teachers exhibits significant diversity, with geographical considerations, school type, and specialization all playing pivotal roles in determining earnings within this fulfilling profession.

Average Salary Of A Special Education Teacher

As of the latest data, most special education teachers had annual earnings falling within a minimum of $38,000 and a maximum of around $96,000. Those working in healthcare offices outside the school system tended to receive higher salaries. In educational settings, the average annual salary for special education teachers was in the low-to-mid $60,000s, depending on the grade level they were involved with. The state also determines the average salary of teachers.  

  1. Kindergarten and elementary special education teachers get employment payouts of around $61,960.
  2. Middle school special education teachers can earn around $63,250.
  3. Secondary school special education teachers can earn up to $64,590. 

The responsibilities of a special education teacher encompass collaborating with general education teachers to identify and evaluate children who may have disabilities or special needs. Subsequently, they modify lessons to cater to the unique needs of each child as part of individualized education programs (IEPs). 

The development of IEPs is a critical aspect of a special education teacher’s role due to the diverse range of disabilities among students. For example, one student may require tools like flashcards to improve math skills, while another may need assistance with fundamental life skills such as responding to questions or following instructions. 

Special education teachers must possess patience, calmness, organizational skills, inspiration, and acceptance. These attributes are essential, as their job involves interacting with children of varying abilities and diverse backgrounds. 

Students receiving special education services have specific needs requiring special attention and understanding. Practical communication skills are paramount in this field, particularly given that these children may experience communication disabilities. Special education teachers also collaborate with a team that includes parents, other teachers, support specialists, and counselors, working collectively to ensure and measure success.

Special Education Teacher Starting Salary

Acknowledging that most teachers’ typical work schedules must adhere to a year-round or standard-hours structure is crucial. Many special education teachers operate on a 10-month school year, incorporating a 2-month summer break and a winter break into their schedule. Consequently, teachers must carefully plan their finances, considering the specificities of their pay schedule.

Regarding starting salaries for special education teachers, the figures vary based on location and the nature of the position. Entry-level salaries for these educators range from $33,000 to $56,500 per year. When broken down by grade level, entry-level median salaries for special education teachers are as follows: 

  • Preschool or elementary special teachers in the USA earn around $41,052.
  • The middle school teachers get employment for around $43,371.
  • High school teachers will earn around $42,496.

Types Of Special Education Teachers

Special education professionals can be categorized based on their qualifications and areas of expertise. These are a few typical kinds of special education teachers:

1. Special Educators for Emotional or Behavioral Disorders: 

These educators specialize in providing learning assistance to students dealing with conditions such as hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, attention deficit, depression, or other behavioral disorders. 

2. Special Educators for Autism Spectrum Disorder: 

Teachers with expertise in autism spectrum disorder offer learning support to students who may experience difficulty correlating circumstances and have communication delays due to autism. 

3. Special Education Teachers in College: 

Professionals holding a Master’s in Special Education focus on providing learning assistance to college students with special needs.

Duties Of A Special Education Teacher

The duties of a special educator are similar to those of a general teacher in schools. They provide educational support to students facing mental, emotional, or physical challenges. The main motive of the teachers is to evaluate individual progress and create personalized reports for each of them. Special educators utilize effective teaching methods to enrich their students’ learning experiences. Some of the critical responsibilities of the special education teacher are listed below: 

  1. Conduct meetings with parents to discuss their children’s progress.
  2. Customizing the general education curriculum to address the specific needs of individual students.
  3. Delivering personalized instruction to cater to the unique requirements of each student.
  4. Early identification of children with special needs through assessments and thorough examination of their workbooks and behavior.
  5. Offering guidance to general teachers and parents on techniques to assist students in learning.

The Special Education Teacher Salary depends on various factors. For example, every state has a different demand for special education teachers. Also, each state has different laws and provisions regarding teaching. Some states, like California, offer high-paying federal employment opportunities for special education teachers. The federal government offers more perks and benefits than private teaching opportunities.

Also, the salary varied depending on the qualifications or university of the individual. If you have pursued your graduation and master’s from any renowned US-based university, then there are higher chances of you getting a high-paying job. Meanwhile, local or less prestigious universities are likely to offer fewer jobs to individuals. More importantly, some states allow individuals to become special education teachers after completing their tenure of practice.

The licenses are offered to individuals who have successfully qualified for their graduation and master’s in the required courses and have expertise in specific skills and fields of special education. To qualify for the license, the individuals must complete the practicum period under the established special education teacher.


1. How can I pursue a career as a special education teacher in the USA?

To become a special education teacher in the USA, all you need to do is consider the following steps:

– Earn a state-approved bachelor’s or master’s degree in special education. Obtain a degree recognized and approved by the state where you intend to teach.

– Finish an internship in a special education classroom as part of your student teaching experience. Acquire practical experience in a special education setting through participation in a student teaching internship.

– Take the required tests for special education teachers in your state. Fulfill the testing prerequisites mandated by the state for aspiring special education teachers.

– Apply for your teaching license. Once you have met the educational and testing criteria, apply for a teaching license through the state education department.

2. What distinguishes a special educator from a general teacher?

The primary difference between special and ordinary teachers is their involvement with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). While a general education teacher may work with a few students with special needs and attend IEP meetings, a special education teacher typically oversees a more significant number of IEP students and assumes a leadership role in crafting and evaluating IEPs.

3. 3. Is there a demand for special education teachers in the USA?

Yes, there is a demand for special education teachers in the USA. Annually, approximately 33,500 openings for special education teachers are estimated, highlighting both the need for these professionals and the potential opportunities within the field, including special education teacher salary considerations.

On average, most of these openings are expected to emerge due to the need to replace workers who change to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as those retiring from their occupations.

4. Which states in the USA have a significant demand for teachers?

The USA considerably demands special education teachers and offers high-paying employment. States such as California, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, and India are notable for having a high demand for special education teachers. If you want to become a special education teacher, get that particular state’s license and achieve the required qualifications.


The demand for special education teachers is high in the USA, allowing individuals to get high-paying jobs. special education teacher salary in the USA vary significantly from state to state.

Exploring special education teacher salary reveals a wide range. In areas where teachers are in high demand, they might earn up to $60,000 annually. Understanding these variations is crucial for anyone considering this fulfilling career path.

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