Earning a Master's in Special Education Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Special Education Online?

A master's in special education online provides graduates with the knowledge, skills, and qualifications necessary to educate students with special needs. The degree also allows graduates to work in administration, government, and research and development. Ideal master's in special education students are resourceful and compassionate.

Graduates with a master's in special education online qualify for positions in curriculum and program coordination, along with high-level positions as school principals. Online programs allow professionals the flexibility to continue working while attending school. The following information identifies potential career options, degree expectations, and resources available to students in these programs.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Special Education Graduates

Master's in Special Education Salary

Special education teachers earn more money with experience. Additionally, location greatly impacts salaries in this field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), western and northeastern states pay the highest salaries and employ some of the profession's largest workforces.

Top Paying States for Special Education Teachers, Secondary Schools

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
New York 16,880 $85,600
California 10,060 $80,120
Oregon 880 $79,410
Connecticut 1,800 $79,350
New Jersey 6,550 $75,870
United States 135,910 $64,590

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Special Education Teachers, Secondary Schools

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $42,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $48,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $53,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $63,000

Source: PayScale

Master's in Special Education Careers

With a master's in special education online, graduates have many career opportunities. Graduates qualify for administration positions, including principals, instructional coordinators, and curriculum directors. Additionally, the concentrated training in special education prepares graduates for general educator positions, along with positions assisting students with disabilities. The following list highlights some of the most common careers for graduates with an online special education degree.

Special Education Teacher

Annual Median Salary: $58,980

Projected Growth Rate: 8%

Special education teachers educate students with various disabilities and exceptionalities. These teachers assess student needs and develop lesson plans to improve learning outcomes. While many positions require a bachelor's degree, some states and licenses require a master's degree.

High School Equivalency Diploma Teacher

Annual Median Salary: $52,100

Projected Growth Rate: -5%

These teachers educate students seeking high school equivalencies. While most of these positions require a bachelor's degree, some require a master's degree. English as a Second Language teachers, for example, may need a master's degree to work in certain colleges and universities.

High School Principal

Annual Median Salary: $94,390

Projected Growth Rate: 8%

High school principals oversee and manage the activities and staff in a school setting. Some principals design and implement programs, curriculum changes, and student services. Most principal positions require a master's degree in education or a related field.

Instructional Coordinator

Annual Median Salary: $63,750

Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Instructional coordinators assess and develop programs for schools. Some coordinators implement and train educators to teach these programs. Most instructional coordinators possess a master's degree in education. Some states and employers may require additional experience and licensure.

Curriculum Director

Annual Median Salary: $73,916

Projected Growth Rate: N/A

Curriculum directors create and establish educational program guidelines to optimize student outcomes and improve teacher performance. Some directors evaluate current programs and some train teachers. Most candidates need a master's degree.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statstics / PayScale

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Special Education Program?

Online master's in special education programs vary by school, but the profession requires certain foundational knowledge and core concepts. The following list highlights some of the more common courses students take in these programs. Additionally, we outlined potential certifications for graduates.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Special Education

Diagnosis and Remediation

Students learn how to diagnose and support learning disabilities. They study different assessment techniques and tools, along with methods for achieving student learning outcomes.

Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Students learn about the characteristics, causes, and educational ramifications of emotional and behavioral disorders. Educators and instructional coordinators use this knowledge to communicate with students and develop lesson plans.

Intervention Strategies

This course examines intervention strategies in special education. Students learn the best practices for assisting and educating students with learning disabilities, along with methods for transitional learning and self-monitoring. This course prepares students for leadership positions in special education programs.

Legal and Ethical Issues

This course provides students with a background in legal and ethical issues in special education. Students learn how different laws and policies impact the educational landscape. The course is ideal for students seeking administrative and government positions.

Advanced Assistive Technology

Students learn about the different technologies used in special education and disability support, examining the functions and applications of these tools in an educational setting. This course benefits students pursuing careers in research and development.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Special Education Prepares For

  • Special Education Teacher License: Though each state features different requirements for special education teachers, many states require a license. A master's degree in special education qualifies graduates to sit for special education licensure examinations. Check your state's teaching requirements for specific details.

  • Special Needs Certifications: Graduates interested in teaching students with specific needs may pursue a special needs certification. Various associations, like the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, offer autism specialist certifications for licensed professionals. To qualify for the exam, students must possess a master's degree, work experience, and continuing education credits.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Professional organizations offer special education professionals valuable career resources. For students and new graduates, these associations offer scholarships, career services assistance, and job boards. Experienced professionals benefit from networking events, industry publications, and continuing education courses.

  • National Association of Special Education Teachers: NASET strives to improve the standards of special education and the education system as a whole. The association supports special education professionals with networking and professional development opportunities.

  • American Academy of Special Education Professionals: AASEP unites special education professionals, providing support and resources to ensure the most effective services for students with special needs. Members gain access to research, industry publications, and networking events.

  • International Association of Special Education: IASE works to improve awareness for students with special needs and the educators that teach them. Members gain access to scholarship, continuing education, and networking opportunities.

  • Council for Exceptional Children: The CEC advocates for improved special education standards, including transparency and accountability. Members gain access to professional development courses and resources.

  • National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools: The NCSECS tracks, analyzes, and disseminates information about special education in charter schools. Members join a network of special education leaders and gain access to professional development tools and resources.