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Financial Benefits of Becoming A Special Education Teacher 2024

Students who require extra help and support might be eligible for special services that provide individualized education programs (IEPs) in public schools, free of charge to families. Understanding your role in educating a student with an IEP will benefit you and the student.

This is Your role as an Itinerant Teacher.

Itinerant special teachers travel to provide services to students with disabilities. Instead of functioning as traditional classroom teachers, itinerants visit children on their caseloads in various settings, including homes, early childhood centres, schools, community-based programs, and hospitals. They provide direct services and support to children with autism as specified by the goals and objectives in their Individual Education Plans (IEP). Some categories addressed include academic skills, communication skills, cognitive development, social development, adaptive skills, motor skills, and behavioural support. They also may provide consultation services to the student’s primary teacher or caregiver.

special education teachers financial benefits

Children with more complex needs who may otherwise drop out or never enrol in school are supported to stay in regular classrooms through the support of an itinerant teacher. Depending on a child’s needs, itinerant teacher support includes an additional explanation of lesson content, sign language or braille assistance, help with homework, working alongside families, and transcribing student responses to exercises and exams. Itinerant teachers also support the lead classroom teacher, coaching the teacher on inclusion strategies, collaborating to plan inclusive lessons, and providing instructional support.

While the shortage of special education teachers is a serious and prevalent problem, for those looking to enter or advance in the field, it equates to exceptional professional opportunities and, in many cases, higher salaries courtesy of federal, state, and local financial incentives designed to attract and retain them.

Why You Should Become a Special Education Teacher

  • Helping students overcome difficult challenges is a reward, although this career path also has great benefits and job stability. A bachelor’s degree can help you embark on the rewarding career in special education that you deserve.
  • The nationwide teacher shortage means that many states have begun to re-evaluate issues such as teacher pay, benefits, and certification qualifications, creating an environment in which individuals with a teaching degree can forward to a higher salary, better benefits packages, and an easier transition if an educator wants to move from one state to another. Generally, a teacher with a special education degree will likely have more job security and a wider array of career options than ever before.
  • Many states are considering ways to improve pay and benefits packages for special education teachers, because special education is one of the areas that the teaching shortage has hit hardest. 
  • Special education teachers and others with teaching degrees have a much easier time moving from one state to another. This means that program graduates with a bachelor’s degree in special education have a much easier time finding rewarding jobs in their dream locations.
  • Each U.S. state has programs committed to meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities and a wide selection of private, public, and nonprofit organizations devoted to that cause. A special education degree can translate into a career as a case manager, a state supervisor, a program coordinator, or a nonprofit director. Special education professionals may even go on to become CEOs or members of executive teams for nonprofit organizations.
  • One of the top reasons to pursue a special education career is that it provides a lifetime of learning. All education professionals are committed to learning, but a special-education bachelor’s degree is just the beginning.

The biggest reason to gain a bachelor’s degree in special education is the engaging work. Because each student in a special education program has unique goals and challenges, a special education teacher often has more variety throughout the workday than his or her peers in a traditional classroom.

Special Education Teacher Jobs

Special education teachers usually work alongside other teachers. They may work in public, private, or schools specialized for people with significant disabilities.

Special education teachers may work alongside other teachers, giving special attention to students with special needs or in special classrooms or “resource rooms” where students with disabilities can get help. Many websites and job search agencies, like Soliant, can help you find special education teacher jobs in your area.

Who Needs an IEP?

Students who are eligible for special education services require an IEP. Students could be eligible for many reasons, such as if they have:

  • learning disabilities
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • emotional disorders
  • cognitive challenges
  • autism
  • hearing problems
  • vision problems
  • speech or language problems
  • developmental delay
  • physical disabilities

How Are Students Evaluated?

The referral process generally begins when a teacher, parent, or doctor is concerned that a child may have trouble in the classroom.

The first step is to gather specific data regarding the student’s progress or academic problems. This may be done through:

  • a conference with parents
  • a conference with the student
  • observations of the student
  • analysis of the student’s performance (attention, behaviour, work completion, tests, classwork, homework, etc.)

This information helps teachers and school personnel decide on the next step. Before formal testing, strategies specific to the student could be used to help them succeed in school. If this doesn’t work, the child can receive an educational assessment, which could identify a specific learning disability or other health problem.

To decide eligibility, a team of professionals will consider their observations and the child’s performance on standardized tests and daily work, such as tests, quizzes, classwork, and homework.

Special Education Teacher Salary

Special education teacher salaries can range from $32,000 to $80,000 annually, depending on experience, education, and location.

The most common salary for special education teachers is about $49,000 per year, and most special education teachers are paid between $43,000 and $68,000 per year.

Remember that cities with higher costs of living often pay higher salaries. So, if you’re getting paid more, you may be moving to an area where you must pay more for rent and other expenses. When deciding whether to accept a job based on the salary, it’s a good idea also to do an online cost of living search to find out what average expenses you can expect from living in that city.

So, while special education shortages persist nationwide, school districts cannot deviate from the set salary schedules to recruit new special education talent. The federal government, state education agencies, and local school districts can and often do provide other financial incentives to attract and retain them.

Advantages for You as a Special Education Teacher

Through the Teacher Forgiveness Program, special education teachers recognized as highly qualified and teaching at either the elementary or secondary level can receive up to $17,500 in loan repayment for their Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans if they teach full-time for five consecutive school years in a low-income school or educational service agency.

You apply for TLF by submitting a Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application to your loan servicer after you have completed the required five consecutive years of qualifying teaching.

Many state education agencies also offer statewide financial incentives. For example, some states have a Teacher Shortage Loan Repayment Program, which provides loan repayment assistance of up to $1,000 annually ($5,000 total) for special education teachers in districts in defined teacher shortage areas.

At the local level, it’s common for school districts to offer specific financial incentives to attract teachers and encourage them to take jobs in teacher-shortage areas. For example, the Austin Independent School District offers two financial incentives for special education teachers with a $2,000/year special education stipend for special education classroom teachers and eligible support staff. They also have a $1,500 bonus for newly hired special education classroom teachers.

How to Become a Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers need a unique set of skills. They don’t just need degrees and certifications; they also need people skills, communication skills, and a demonstrated ability and desire to work with people with special needs.

Read on to learn how to acquire all those skills and prove to your future employer that you have them.

Special education teacher requirements include:

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in Special Education.
  • Additional certification or licensure exams may be required depending on the state you want to teach in. Public schools may require more licensures and certifications than private schools but may also pay higher salaries and have better employee benefits for teachers.
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About Author

Bill Wallace blends his academic background in Literature with his ventures in International Business and finance. His professional journey took him across Europe, especially in Spain, where his passion for writing evolved. Since then, armed with his literary finesse and investment acumen, he has been crafting financial content for teachers worldwide. More about me.

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