20 Best States for Special Education Teachers

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It’s time to hit the books with the best states for special education teachers.

My dad was a special education teacher. Well, he was a lot of things–a fireman, a businessman, a bowling instructor, and he still is a park ranger–but special education is something he did for many years. It inspires me that after working in the business for so long, he switched careers, got certified, and found something that was challenging and rewarding–also I’m sure the summers off didn’t hurt.

What sets special education teachers apart from teachers is their students. Their job is more complex and quite challenging, as they are tasked to educate students with special needs. Special education teachers hold a completely different set of responsibilities than ordinary teachers. That’s not to say they are better teachers, but it is undeniable how their job tends to be harder and complicated. There are extra, or at least different responsibilities to take into account.

20 Best States for Special Education Teachers


According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), special education teachers are tasked to work with students with various disabilities. These disabilities could be physical, mental, emotional, or the more common learning disabilities. Some special needs students have difficulty in learning areas–they could be speech delayed, have problems comprehending, or lack focus. Physical and mental disabilities, which are usually congenital in nature, require special attention when learning as well.

This is where the challenge comes in. Being a special education teacher does not only mean you would have to attend to students with special needs. It is also crucial that you are well-prepared and also informed to take care of what those needs may be. Why? Special education teachers are only classified based on the level they handle–pre-school, elementary, middle school, and high school. They are not classified according to what needs they can help with. A special education class can be filled with students of a wide variety of different special needs.

These job descriptions show that being a special education teacher is definitely not for those afraid of learning or a challenge. Aside from having tons of patience and empathy, it is also important that they have the proper educational background and also some previous experience in education or with children as well.

Apart from providing aid in learning, special education teachers also teach the usual subjects including basic math, reading, science, and writing. In some sense, it is just like traditional teaching–but with a different audience, you have to adjust to. Lesson plans tend to be more personalized, as students usually have different needs–one might need more time with each question no matter the subject; while another could be a math whiz, but struggle with encoding and decoding language; still another student could learn in standard ways but face physical challenges to pick up a pen or move around the classroom.

Academically, special education teachers are of course required to have a Bachelor’s Degree in education, and must also hold teaching licenses and certificates. That being said, the degree is not the only thing you need. Patience and motivation should also be your natural personalities.

Still, according to a file from BLS, the projected job growth for special education teachers is at 6%, which just as fast as other jobs, making its job growth score on the average. Their annual median wage is at $56,800 on the average. The highest wage recorded for special education teachers is $90,260, while the lowest is at $37,410.

In looking for the best states for special education teachers, we had to find out each state’s annual median wage, cost of living index, and employment rates for Special Education Teachers.

Information about annual median salary and employment rates were gathered from BLS, while the data about each state’s cost of living index were sourced from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC). Each state’s ranking for each point of the criteria were averaged, which led us to the results and rankings we have below.

It has to be noted that each of the three criteria points has equal values. It is not just the high salary we should be looking at because at the end of the day we also have to take our expenses into the equation. To get a job that pays well is great, but to live in a place that wouldn’t slash it too much with your spendings is always better. Plus, it is ideal to live in a state with a high demand for the job. There are better chances for you to get hired, and unemployment should as much as possible be out of the situation.

Do you think any of the Best States for Kindergarten Teachers made it to this list, too?

Take a look at the 20 best states for special education teachers.

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