Special education teachers specialize in providing quality learning experiences modified to meet the needs of students who have a wide variety of learning, emotional, physical, and mental disabilities.
Special education teachers are typically responsible for assessing students’ knowledge levels, adapting lessons to accommodate students, designing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), collaborating with teacher assistants, and ensuring that schools are complying with requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
How much does a special education teacher make? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 197,740 special education teachers employed throughout the United States. The average yearly special education teacher salary is $56,700 (median annual salary is $53,820).
While the bottom ten percent in the profession is compensated with an annual wage of $35,700 or less, the top ten percent of special education teachers make $84,440+ on average each year.
Special education teachers employed in elementary and secondary schools bring home a mean $56,870, but those that work for health practitioners’ offices make considerably more than average at a wage of $64,520. The top-paying states are Rhode Island and New York, where special education teachers earn $71,750 and $71,330.
Although the majority of special education teachers are employed in public and private schools, others teach in public magnet, private religious, and charter school settings. Other special education teachers can find employment in child care centers, residential facilities, health practitioners’ offices, and home tutoring services. Special education teachers normally work within school hours when students are present in a traditional 10-month school year with a 2-month summer break. Teachers often meet with parents or other teachers before and after school as well as work on lesson plans during the evening and on weekends.
As overall enrollment is expected to grow in both elementary and secondary schools with an increasing population in the United States, there will be a larger number of students in need of receiving special education services. Therefore, employment for special education teachers overall is predicted to rise as fast as the national average for all occupations at a rate of 17 percent between 2010 and 2020. Special education teachers can expect the greatest job prospects by specializing in preschool, elementary, and middle school grades.