Special educators are teachers that specialize in working with students with disabilities. They have many similar duties to a regular teacher, such as designing lesson plans, managing the classroom, and grading student assignments. However, special educators need to be mindful of the different abilities of the children that they serve. They work with parents and administrators to identify a student's needs and develop an IEP (Individualized Education Program). They tailor their lessons to adjust to students' abilities and needs. Besides academic subjects, special educators can also teach their students behavioral management skills and social skills, depending on their needs. They can work with students one-on-one or in small groups.

The requirements to become a special educator differ depending on schools and states. Some states require special educators to have a master's degree, while others have only an associate's. It helps if a special educator has some experience working with children with disabilities.

Most special educators need to have a license from the state in order to teach. Once they do, they can earn an average salary of $54,521 a year.

What Does a Special Educator Do

There are certain skills that many special educators have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed communication skills, patience and resourcefulness.

Learn more about what a Special Educator does

How To Become a Special Educator

If you're interested in becoming a special educator, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 61.1% of special educators have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 21.2% of special educators have master's degrees. Even though most special educators have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Learn More About How To Become a Special Educator

Special Educator Career Paths

Average Salary for a Special Educator

Special Educators in America make an average salary of $53,565 per year or $26 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $75,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $38,000 per year.
Average Special Educator Salary
$53,565 Yearly
$25.75 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Special Educator

There are several types of special educator, including:

Special Education Teacher


Special education teachers offer academic and personal support for students with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities to help them overcome difficulties in their learning.

They facilitate lessons by working around or with the students' particular learning obstacles and preparing classes and learning activities. Sometimes working with students in the same classroom as a general education class, the top priority of a special education teacher is ensuring equal opportunities and respecting the dignity of the youngsters they assist.

The average annual salary of a special education teacher is $53,220. However, with significant experience on the job and a graduate degree in your pocket as well, your yearly income might reach as high as $98,000.

  • Average Salary: $54,290
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree



An educator instills intellectual, moral, and social instructions to students. To do this, you will analyze your students to determine their problems and proffer solutions. You will also build relationships with students. As a result, you must be patient, creative, and ready to connect with your students in order to make learning easier. As an educator, it is your role and responsibility to participate in meetings with other administrations of the organization. You are also required to create strategies and plans to meet the students' educational needs.

A bachelor's degree in Education or a Diploma in Education and Training is part of the requirements to become an educator. Educators are also expected to have excellent communication skills, teaching skills, and good presentation skills. Apart from this, you must have the ability to engage your students in an interesting and impactful manner. A certified educator earns an average of $51,384 annually.

  • Average Salary: $43,760
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

Math Teacher


Lots of people know that 1+1=2. You know why they know that? Because of math teachers. From kindergarten to senior year of high school, math teachers prepare important lessons for students to get them ready for the next phase in their life. Whether their dream career takes them to college or straight to work after receiving that diploma.

Math teachers work in schools with their students and generally work during school hours. But sometimes grading assignments and tests can make them work in the evenings and weekends. They also devote certain times to prepare lessons for each day. The best thing about being a math teacher is that there is no school during the summer, which means math teachers get a summer break as well.

  • Average Salary: $51,088
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

States With The Most Special Educator Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active special educator jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where special educators earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Special Educator Jobs By State

RankStateNumber of JobsAverage Salary
6New York1,469$76,018
10New Jersey1,103$66,934
12North Carolina850$46,048
28South Carolina458$47,367
33New Hampshire356$53,427
37New Mexico299$45,219
44Rhode Island156$60,296
45South Dakota146$42,125
47West Virginia132$50,653
48North Dakota118$50,724

Special Educator Education

Special Educator Majors

10.5 %

Special Educator Degrees


61.1 %


21.2 %


10.4 %

Top Colleges for Special Educators

1. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition




2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition




3. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition




4. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




5. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




6. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA • Private

In-State Tuition




7. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

In-State Tuition




8. Lehigh University

Bethlehem, PA • Private

In-State Tuition




9. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL • Private

In-State Tuition




10. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition




Top Skills For a Special Educator

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 8.7% of special educators listed autism on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and patience are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Special Educator Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Special Educator templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Special Educator resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Special Educator diversity

Special Educator Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among special educators, 78.7% of them are women, while 21.3% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among special educators is White, which makes up 71.5% of all special educators.

  • The most common foreign language among special educators is Spanish at 60.4%.

Online Courses For Special Educator That You May Like

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Welcome to our the third course in the School Health specialization: Providing Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Special Education Services in School. In this course, you will learn about how social-emotional skills, mental health, and learning are related. We will focus on how schools can support social-emotional learning and promote mental health for all students. We will walk through the reasons that schools should promote student mental health. Next, we’ll review school wide activities to...

2. Music Education for Teachers


In the Music Education for Teachers specialization, you will explore ways of integrating popular music into your teaching. You'll begin by learning from two highly experienced teachers, Krystal Banfield, the Vice President of Educational Outreach for Berklee College of Music, and David Alexis a Berklee Professor and long-time instructor for the Berklee City Music Program. They will take you through their process of incorporating popular music, improvisation, arranging, and music technology into...

3. Educational Psychology & Special Education (Certificate)


Informational content for educators and parents to learn about teaching and understanding exceptional children...

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Best States For a Special Educator

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a special educator. The best states for people in this position are New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Massachusetts. Special educators make the most in New York with an average salary of $76,018. Whereas in Connecticut and Maryland, they would average $75,396 and $74,301, respectively. While special educators would only make an average of $72,366 in Massachusetts, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Connecticut

Total Special Educator Jobs: 652
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Alaska

Total Special Educator Jobs: 140
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Maryland

Total Special Educator Jobs: 845
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Special Educators

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