It’s a harrowing but unfortunately all too true reality: 49 states are currently facing a severe shortage of special education teachers.
If you’re considering getting into the field, you likely already know that this national shortage means you’ll be in high demand. Still, the reality is that becoming a special education teacher is as challenging as it is rewarding.
Schools are certainly aware of this — and they’re using salaries as a convincing incentive to encourage more people to get into the profession.
So, what are the top paying states for those entering into the field of special education?
Keep on reading this post to find out.
We’ll also let you know how you can set out on the right career path to become a special ed teacher — and begin making a difference in the lives of your students and their families.
If You’re Teaching at the Preschool Level
First of all, let’s take a look at the top paying states for special education teachers who plan to work at the preschool level.
As you’ve likely expected, working with children who are often too young to completely express themselves regardless of their learning differences can be a challenge.
You’ll need to be intuitive, able to think on your feet, resolve issues that come up between other students, and have lots of patience.
However, working with young children who have special needs is also an incredibly heartwarming and professionally rewarding experience. Many special education teachers get their start by teaching preschool children on a part-time or full-time basis, moving onto older children as their careers advance.
Still, in some states, the salaries are quite competitive.
If you work in Connecticut, you’ll earn an average yearly salary of around $72,000. However, in some places in the state, you can earn as much as nearly $94,000.
You should also consider working in Oregon. The average salary there is close to $74,400, while some teachers in special education can earn up to $90,000 teaching preschool-aged children.
Teaching Special Education at the Elementary Level
Now, let’s examine the potential salaries of special education teachers who work elementary school students.
In most cases, this means working with children who are in kindergarten all the way up to the fifth grade (though it may vary depending on the specific school.)
It’s important that you compare the cost of living in the state where you plan on teaching with the average salary. Remember that what might be tough to live on in one state could be a very competitive salary in another.
Interestingly, special ed teachers who work in Arkansas receive a wonderful salary of anywhere from $75,000-$92,000. Especially when the median income is around $40,000 in Arkansas, you’ll be more than comfortable on your special education salary.
Connecticut also tops the list. You can earn up to $97,000 annually, with the average salary of a special ed teacher at the elementary level resting at nearly $80,000.
The Top Paying States at the Middle School Level
So, what can you earn as a special education teacher at the middle school level?
Given that middle school is a notoriously challenging time for students of all abilities, it makes sense that you can expect some competitive salaries.
When it comes to the middle school level, New York offers the highest rates of pay. The average special education middle school teacher earns about $74,000 a year. In some cases, especially within the independent school system, they can earn over $96,000 as an annual salary.
California also offers some of the top salaries, with an average of close to $69,000 all the way up to $83,000.
Finally, Arkansas makes the list again, with the average salary hovering close to $75,000 and going all the way up to about $92,000.
Special Education Teachers at the High School Level
Finally, let’s examine what you can expect to make if you want to teach special education at the high school level.
The academic and, even more so, social demands of teaching high school special education courses are much more rigorous. However, you’ll also have the wonderful chance to get to know your students on a deep and fulfilling level.
You’re not just teaching them the core subjects. You’ll also be helping them to learn more about who they are as people — outside of just their differences and disabilities.
Teaching at the high school level will also offer you the highest pay rates as a special education professional.
Again, New York and Connecticut offer the highest average salaries.
In New York, you’ll earn an average of $76,000 per year — though you can fairly easily earn up to $100,500. In Connecticut, you’ll earn an average of about $77,000 when it comes to your salary. However, some special ed teachers have earned close to $93,000.
Additionally, Illinois offers competitive salaries. If you want to teach there, you’ll earn an average of about $63,000 per year. However, you could end up earning well over $83,000.
We Need More Special Education Teachers: Are You Ready to Become One?
We hope that this post has helped you to better understand the top paying states when it comes to working as a special education professional.
Are you ready to find the career of your dreams as a special education teacher? Would you like to learn more about how you find an online school where you can earn your Master’s in special education?
Need tips and tricks when it comes to classroom management, teacher burnout, learning sign language, and much more?
We’ve got you covered.
Let our website serve as your ultimate guide to every step of your career in special education.