Job Options With a Master’s in Special Education


Do you have a passion for helping exceptional learners and those with unique educational needs? You may have the right personality for a career in special education, specifically one that requires a graduate degree to excel. As the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes, some of the jobs that may have only required a bachelor’s degree a decade or so ago now call for a master’s degree.


Being eligible for the new standards expected of educators is just part of the equation, however. The BLS also reports that master’s-level jobs are growing at a rate of 17% — the fastest of any education level. To remain successful in a competitive and changing job market, getting your master’s in special education just makes sense.


What Can You Do With a Master’s in Special Education?

Some teachers earn their master’s to become better in the classroom. A graduate program not only introduces you to the latest in best practices for schools, it also helps you become a better researcher. Educators who want to grow in ways that are best for their students often find that a master’s degree helps them achieve this goal. You do not have to teach a special ed classroom to benefit.


In addition to learning the best practices, however, graduates of a master’s in special education are poised to excel in other positions within the school, organizations, and community at large. Some of these jobs, with salary figures from January 2021, include:


Dedicated Special Education Teacher – Whether at the elementary, high school or preschool level, special education teachers with a master’s degree earn more. The average annual salary for this type of educator increases with the grade level. A preschool special education teacher, for example, may earn $49,000 annually, while a high school professional could earn $55,000.


Principal or Superintendent of a Special Needs School – Working within a special school for kids who have unique developmental, mental or emotional needs is a worthy career, and having a master’s degree will get you there faster. Currently, principals and superintendents make $96,000 a year or more and can serve in elementary, middle school or high school environments. Teachers who have experience with Braille or American Sign Language can possibly go on to leading schools that serve sight- or hearing-impaired students, specifically.


Director of Operations, Developmental Disabilities – If you would take your experience to a nonprofit or other organization that serves children and adults with disabilities, you will find that your master’s degree comes in handy. Depending on the company or nonprofit, these leaders can make a base pay of over $100,000 a year. Most require years of experience working with exceptional students or adults, but the hard work really pays off.


The Next Steps to Your Master’s Degree

If you’ve heard that it could take months or even years to get your start in a graduate program, you’ll be pleased to know that the Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Master of Education in Special Education online has a straightforward, streamlined admissions process. You only have to show documentation of your undergraduate degree, a suitable GPA, and a statement of your intent to enroll. Classes are 100% online, giving you every opportunity to succeed, regardless of your schedule. It’s even possible to complete the program in as few as 12 months. In fact, those who are still teaching in the classroom can work and grow their career at the same time with Florida Gulf Coast University’s innovative program.


Learn more about FGCU’s online M.Ed. in Special Education program.



Glassdoor: Director of Operations Developmental Disabilities Salaries


PayScale: Master of Education (Special Education) Degree


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment Outlook for Graduate-Level Occupations

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