Special education is a vital part of the American schools’ system, ensuring children in locations around the country receive education tailored to their specific requirements. Special Education Teachers are one of the most important cogs in that machine, but where in the country offers the best opportunities for these hard-working professionals?
Special Education Teacher Salary By State
Special education salaries vary widely from state to state. This is for a multitude of reasons but the two biggest factors are the cost of living and the employment level of special education teachers per a thousand jobs. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California has the highest average salary at $80,370. The District of Columbia, New York, Oregon, and Connecticut fill out the rest of the top 5. Oklahoma, West Virginia, South Dakota, and Arizona are among the lower-paying states with a mean salary around $43,000.
Average Special Education Teacher Salary
Salaries for special education teachers also vary depending on what age they are teaching. Luckily, the Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks down the average salary of special education teachers by discipline:
- Special education teachers, secondary school: $60,600
- Special education teachers, middle school: $60,250
- Special education teachers, kindergarten and elementary school: $59,390
- Special education teachers, preschool: $55,840
Best 10 Cities for Special Education Teachers
10. Leominster, MASSACHUSETTS
Total Score: 232
A strong employment score means there are plenty of opportunities for teachers working in special education in this Massachusetts town. Wages are slightly affected by a high cost of living, with Massachusetts’ lower level of Special Education spending per pupil preventing the town from rising further up the rankings.
9. Glens Falls, New York
Total Score: 234
Although the waterfall the city is named after now technically sits in the nearby village of Williamsville, Glens Falls has plenty else besides going for it. Great student to teacher ratios and a strong concentration of jobs mean it’s a great place for a career in special education.
8. Lewiston, Maine
Total Score: 236
Maine’s second-biggest city has a below-average cost of living and benefits from a good level of state-level funding for special education students. It also has the strongest student to teacher ratio score in our top 10. It only doesn’t feature higher because of a lower concentration of jobs in the area – the lowest in the top 10.
7. New Haven, Connecticut
Total Score: 260
The home of the prestigious Ivy League college, Yale, this picturesque coastal town is well known as the home of academics and professors. It’s also a fantastic environment for special education teachers and students to work and learn. New Haven has the second-best wages in our top 10 list.
6. Bridgeport, Connecticut
Total Score: 262
Just above its Connecticut neighbor is the former manufacturing hub, Bridgeport. With the second-largest public school system in the state (behind capital Hartford), Bridgeport has good wages, the lowest cost of living in our top 10, and is helped by Connecticut’s positive spend on special education students.
5. Nassau County, New York
Total Score: 280
If you’re looking for a good salary, Nassau County is the place to be for special education teachers. With the best score for wages in the country helped by a low cost of living, students also benefit from low student to teacher ratios – meaning more one on one time for students and less stress for teachers. The area only doesn’t feature higher because of the relatively low level of funding given by the state of New York for children with special education requirements.
4. Billings, Montana
Total Score: 282
When it comes to job opportunities, Billings has the highest concentration of special education teaching jobs in the country. While the city’s wage score is hampered by a cost of living higher than the national average, Montana is one of the most supportive states when it comes to Special Education funding for its schools.
3. Atlantic City, New Jersey
Total Score: 292
Well known for its beaches, casinos, and boardwalks, you may be surprised to learn that Atlantic City, on New Jersey’s Jersey Shore, offers some of the best opportunities for special education teachers. The city of just under 40,000 has one of the highest concentrations of jobs, a good teacher-to-student ratio and a strong wage score helped by a lower cost of living than many of its East Coast neighbors.
2. Longview, Washington
Total Score: 306
Our only West Coast entrant, this former logging town and port just missed out on the top spot. Its home state of Washington has one of the highest spends per student on special education in the country and with great wages helped by a low cost of living – Longview is a great option for special education teachers out West.
1. Camden, New Jersey
Total Score: 318
And the winner is…Camden! Just across the Delaware River from the city of Philadelphia, this New Jersey town comes out on top, boasting impressive scores across all categories, with great job opportunities, high wages and positive staff to student ratios. With a low cost of living and a ratio of 39 in every 10,000 jobs for special education teaching roles, the town offers the best opportunities in the country for Special Education professionals.
The overall ranking was calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics data on multiple job profiles, including Special Educational Needs (Special Education) Teachers. Data on median wage and the number of jobs per 1,000 jobs were collected, alongside Special Education funding per pupil from the U.S. Department of Education. We also combined overall employment data with student numbers to get our student to staff ratio. Four ranking factors were then given a percentile-based score: the number of job opportunities per 10,000 employed, average salary (adjusted for cost of living- taken from Best Places.net), Special Education funding and – these scores combined produce an overall score and ranking.
If you are a special education teacher looking for a new opening, make sure to check out our special education jobs located across the country.