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What Is The Average Special Education Teacher Salary?

Teaching Jobs, Becoming A Teacher

Micah Fikes
Micah Fikes on October 13, 2021

The most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the median annual wage for special education teachers in the United States is about $61,500.

Suppose you are considering becoming a special education teacher and want to get a better idea of your earnings potential. How much you will earn as a special education teacher depends on several factors. However, below we will explore some of these factors that may impact your salary as you begin your career. 


Where You Teach


The state where you choose to begin teaching can impact your special education teacher salary. That’s because many states have a minimum salary schedule.


In Texas, for example, teachers must earn a designated annual salary based on years of credited experience. Each year, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) updates its minimum salary schedule. Below is the most updated schedule for the 2021-2022 school year.


special education teacher salary


 Source: Texas Education Agency 2021-2022 Minimum Salary Schedule

It’s important to note that this table only reflects the minimum you must earn as a special education teacher in the state of Texas.


Where you teach within the state, however, can also impact your salary. Texas breaks up the state into 20 regions. An average special education teacher’s salary may differ from one region to another. Often, regions with larger metropolitan areas tend to report higher average wages.


For example, according to a salary report database that the TEA maintains, teachers earn an average of $57,641 in Texas. In Region 4, which includes the city of Houston, the average base pay is $60,798. In Region 8, which consists of the rural communities of Paris and De Kalb, the average base pay is $50,683.


The Grade You Teach


The grade you teach may also impact your special education teacher salary. average special education teacher salary


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wages for special education teachers in 2020 varied slightly based on grade level. 


Median annual wages for special education teachers in 2020

High School


Middle School


Elementary School



Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


While these are national figures, the Texas Education Agency’s salary report database shows the same trend, with grade level playing a role in salary.


The average base pay for public school teachers who taught in grades 9-12 during the 2020-2021 school year was $58,670. Individuals who taught kindergarten through 6th grade earned a slightly lower average of $57,531.


Are Special Education Teachers Are In Demand?


If you are considering pursuing a career as a special education teacher, you may see a boost in pay since many schoolaverage special education teacher salary districts are experiencing teacher shortages in this area of specialty. 


In fact, the TEA named special education at the elementary school and secondary level as areas experiencing teacher shortages in Texas. 


This designation can also benefit you financially in two ways. Firstly, teachers with certain types of student loans may qualify for partial loan forgiveness, postponement or cancellation benefits if they choose to teach in a subject that is experiencing a teacher shortage.


Secondly, because there is a need for special education teachers in several districts across the state, you may have more bargaining power for your salary.

Your Benefits Package


Many aspiring teachers only consider the numbers on their paychecks when it comes to how much they make. Benefits packages are an important consideration as well when determining your true salary as a special ed teacher.


For example, school districts that cover a high percentage of an employee’s health insurance premium can increase a teacher’s take-home pay.


Health insurance is an important consideration since a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that the average family premium rose 4% in 2020. 


Other aspects of your benefits package include pensions, vacation time and sick leave, all of which can impact your financial stability.

Other Salary Impacts


In most school districts, a teacher’s salary reflects 10 months of work. While some educators choose to receive theiraverage special education teacher salary paychecks over 12 months, others select to receive it only during their work months. 


Some who choose the latter then pick up additional work over the summer to earn extra income, such as teaching summer school or private tutoring. This extra income can add to your overall annual salary.


There are also opportunities to oversee extracurricular activities like sports or clubs as well. School districts often compensate teachers who do this in the form of stipends, which can bump up your salary.

Questions As You Move Forward


Potential salary information can be a lot to digest. If you are weighing your options and determining whether teaching is the right career move for you, an experienced alternative certification program can help answer any questions you have about your certification path.


Our article, Why A Career Change To Teaching May Be Right For You, also goes over some of the ways you can realize whether teaching is for you. If you decide that the salary expectations outlined above align with your aspirations of becoming a special education teacher, an alternative teacher certification program can help you realize your goals.


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Topics: Teaching Jobs, Becoming A Teacher

Written by Micah Fikes

Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank. In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.

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