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Special Education Major

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Special Education

8,863 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
18,003 Master's Degrees Annually
#55 in Popularity
$62,500 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Special Education Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many special education graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 18,013
Bachelor’s Degree 8,866
Graduate Certificate 2,240
Basic Certificate 554
Associate’s Degree 408
Undergraduate Certificate 301
Doctor’s Degree 257

What Special Education Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to special ed were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for Special Ed Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

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  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Clerical - Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.

Skills for Special Ed Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to special ed:

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  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Abilities for Special Ed Majors

A major in special ed will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

What Can You Do With a Special Education Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with special ed:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Adapted Physical Education Specialists 9.9% $56,680
Interpreters and Translators 17.7% $49,930
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School 7.4% $59,390
Special Education Teachers, Middle School 7.2% $60,250
Special Education Teachers, Preschool 11.3% $55,840
Special Education Teachers, Secondary School 7.4% $60,600

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education?

8,866 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
89% Percent Women
16% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 8,863 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in special education in 2019, making it rank #55 in popularity. The major attracts more women than men. About 89% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of special ed majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Special Ed Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 97
Black or African American 317
Hispanic or Latino 785
White 7,146
International Students 32
Other Races/Ethnicities 489

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Special Ed, too. About 0.4% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • Saudi Arabia
  • China
  • South Korea
  • Canada
  • India

How Much Do Special Education Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in special ed have a median salary of $36,400 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $32,875 (25th percentile) and $39,025 (75th percentile).

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It’s important to note that just because the people reporting these salaries have a degree in special ed, it does not mean that they are working in a job related to their degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $61,610 to $64,390 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to special ed. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Special Education Major  ( 61610 to 64390 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with special ed require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to special ed have obtained the following education levels.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 0.1%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 0.1%
Some College Courses 0.4%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 1.8%
Bachelor’s Degree 52.9%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 13.8%
Master’s Degree 27.0%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 2.2%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 1.5%
Doctoral Degree 1.0%

Online Special Education Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 994 schools offered some type of special education program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 91 15
Certificate (1-2 years) 50 4
Certificate (2-4 Years) 4 0
Associate’s Degree 79 12
Bachelor’s Degree 362 120
Post-Baccalaureate 91 15
Master’s Degree 951 290
Post-Master’s 137 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 82 5
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 1 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Special Education Worth It?

The median salary for a special ed grad is $62,500 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 57% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $452,000 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to special ed.

Major Number of Grads
Teacher Education Grade Specific 100,925
Educational Administration 44,381
Teacher Education Subject Specific 43,516
General Education 31,066
Curriculum & Instruction 18,767
Student Counseling 13,679
Instructional Media Design 7,063
Other Education 5,503
Teaching English or French 5,407
Multilingual Education 1,636
Teaching Assistants 1,591
Educational Assessment 1,532
Education Philosophy 634
International Education 400

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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