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Money Lessons: Highest Teacher Salaries in the USA, Part 7 – Special Education for High School

Updated on July 9, 2011

This article continues a series that starts with Money Lessons: Highest Teacher Salaries in the USA, Part 1 – Kindergarten.

Special education teachers concentrate on students who have emotional, physical or cognitive disabilities. Those instructing in secondary or high schools focus on grades 9 through 12, or ages 14 through 18. For many teens, high school may be the final education they receive. Thus, these teachers have the extra responsibility of preparing their students for real-life survival. Teacher salaries differ according to employer and location. All information comes from the US Department of Labor.

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin

Salaries and Employers

Teacher salaries for high school special education are as follows:

  • Mean annual pay for 141,420 teachers runs $58,080, with median highs lows of $36,630 and median highs of $86,380.
  • The highest employment is in elementary and secondary schools, where 138,100 jobs earn a mean $58,250 annually. Next are educational support services, with 300 jobs receiving $50,230 per year, and state governments, where 480 positions receive $46,890 yearly.
  • Elementary and secondary schools also offer the highest pay for this field. They are followed by local government at $58,080 per year for 410 employees, and psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, with wages at $56,250 annually for 100 teachers.

Locations of the Best Teacher Salaries

Job location affects teacher salaries as follows:

  • High population states show the biggest demand for special education in high school. New York tops the list with 16,010 professionals earning a mean $73,510 per year. It is followed by California, where 11,250 employees make $69,800 yearly, and Illinois, where 8,320 teachers get $59,620 annually.
  • The state with the best pay for the profession is New York, followed by Connecticut at a mean annual $70,630 for 2,200 teachers. California is third for wages.
  • High population cities also show big demand. On top is New York City, where 8,470 teachers make a mean $76,420 per year. Los Angeles ranks second with 4,480 positions receiving $69,930 annually. Chicago is third with 3,590 professionals getting $68,570 yearly.
  • Rural areas may offer peace and quiet, but also fewer job opportunities. The New Iberia region of Louisiana has the most rural jobs at 580, with mean pay at $45,820 annually. However, the highest paying nonmetropolitan area is the Mother Lode Region of California, at $74,000 per year for only 30 positions.


According to the Department of Labor, jobs for high school teachers in special education will increase by a slightly above-average 13 percent from 2008 to 2018. This should also produce a slightly above-average growth in teacher salaries.Much of this is due to a general increase in the US population.Prospects will be better in rural areas and the inner city, where qualified teachers are hard to find. Competition will be greater in suburban and wealthy school districts.


Here are the rest of the articles the teacher salaries series:

If you’re a teacher, feel free to add more information about teacher salaries in the Comments box below.


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