After completing a bachelor's degree, aspiring special education teachers will work in public or private schools. A special education salary varies depending upon your region, the level of class you will teach, and whether or not you work for a private school or public school district. The job outlook is expected to be similar to the outlook for all teachers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). More than 450,000 special education teachers currently teach students in the United States, and about 28,000 additional teachers are estimated to be needed between now and 2024.
Overall Median Wages and Salary Levels
The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains records of median salaries for jobs across the United States. Its 2015 report on special education salaries indicates that the overall median salary of special education teachers is $57,910. Special education teachers working in public schools earn slightly less, with a median salary of $54,720. Teachers in special education earn significantly more than the median salary for all occupations of $37,040, according to the BLS. The BLS reported that the lowest 10 percent of special education teachers earned less than $37,760, while the highest 10 percent earned $93,090 or more.
Kindergarten and Elementary School Regional Salaries
Some areas of the United States employ more special education teachers than other areas, and salary levels also differ depending upon grade levels being taught. The East Coast generally employs more teachers in special education per-thousand than the West Coast. Salaries in the highest-population states are similar, however. New York special education teachers earn an annual mean wage of $72,350, while California special education teachers earn only $90 less a year. Teachers in this field in Texas earn a mean annual wage of $55,840, significantly less than other areas. The lowest annual mean wage for elementary school special education teachers is found in West Virginia, at $42,420 a year.
Middle School and Secondary School Regional Salaries
Special education teachers at the high school level tend to earn higher salaries than elementary or middle school teachers. According to the BLS, New York pays the highest annual mean wage for high school special education teachers, $84,330. Teachers at this level in California earn $76,310 annually on average. The highest-paid large metropolitan area for high school special education teachers is Nassau-Suffolk County in New York, where approximately 2,400 teachers earn an average of $95,670 a year. Middle school special education teachers earn slightly less on-average than secondary-level teachers. New York and Alaska are the two states where middle school special education teachers earn the most, at slightly more than $78,000 a year.
A bachelor's degree in special education and a teaching credential will enable you to teach in public schools across the United States. You may also be able to teach in a private school. Salaries at private schools average less than those typically paid in public school districts. Working in special education offers a higher earning potential than the average classroom teacher. Non-special education high school teachers earn approximately $59,000 a year on average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about $5,000 less than the mean special education salary of $64,020 across the United States.