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.