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What a Masters in Special Education can do for you

Professionals in the field of special education are not only valuable, but they are also increasingly necessary and can receive lucrative pay. Texas A&M International University’s Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Special Education program prepares educators for rewarding careers in various special education settings.

In fact, educators trained in helping students with special needs are needed more than ever before. The U.S. Department of Education reports that there is currently a national shortage of special education teachers, which is why many states and districts offer bonuses and salary boosts for obtaining an advanced degree in this field. Additionally, educators who earn a master’s degree focused on special education are prepared to work in rewarding careers that focus on educating, advocating for and preparing exceptional learners across lifespans.

Reaping Financial Rewards

Teachers in the United States are largely compensated based on two primary criteria: education and years of experience. In many districts, obtaining a master’s degree with any focus warrants a pay raise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, special education teachers in 2020 earned an average salary of $61,420, about $2,000 more per year than the average salary of both elementary and middle school general teachers.

This should not come as a surprise, given that the number of students who qualify for special education services is increasing. School districts across the nation are seeking quality special education teachers to meet the needs of these students.

Preparation for a Variety of Careers

While many educators opt to serve as special educators in K-12 settings, the training received in a master’s special education program also prepares graduates for careers in administration, higher education and clinical settings. Many districts look to educators with advanced degrees in special education to oversee Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) across schools and communities. Districts hire for positions like these under titles such as Arc manager, director of special education or special education coordinator.

In addition to education and administration, positions are available in hospitals that require the knowledge and skills gained through an advanced degree. Special education professionals in hospitals often work with individuals aged between adolescence and adulthood with special education needs. For example, one might work in a children’s hospital, contributing to early intervention programs for families to access resources for their children with special needs. Similar positions exist in social service agencies, juvenile detention facilities and other settings where individuals with special needs could use the extra support and advocacy of a professional.

Ensuring Every Student Gets a Good Education

Educators with advanced training in special education are uniquely suited to ensure every student can access the tools and resources to succeed academically and personally. Special education professionals are an integral part of each student’s team since they specialize in identifying and creating instructional strategies that can close achievement gaps between traditional and exceptional learners.

Achievement gaps refer to the academic performance disparities between groups of students defined by gender, race/ethnicity, ability and socioeconomic status. Academic disparities contribute to lower college enrollment rates and higher dropout rates, resulting in gaps in achievement over time. Special education teachers identify disability factors that contribute to achievement inequalities and advocate for students to ensure they receive the support and resources they needed to succeed. They play a crucial role in intervening early and creating personalized education plans that incorporate classroom modification, adaptive technology and transition services.

As experts in intervention strategies and recognizing students’ individual needs, special education professionals are key consultants and advocates for students with a wide range of exceptionalities. Special education professionals are necessary to address achievement gaps based on ability, and a master’s degree in special education prepares educators to rise to this challenge.

Learn more about Texas A&M International University’s online Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Special Education program.


Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Special Education Teachers
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Middle School Teachers

Graduate Programs for Educators: Narrowing Achievement Gaps for At-Risk Students

National Center for Biotechnology Information: Opportunities for Improving Programs and Services for Children with Disabilities

Power School: The Number Behind Increasing Special Education Enrollment

The Arc: Our Initiatives

Understood: Understanding IEPs

U.S. Department of Education: Teacher Shortage Areas


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