Find Grad Schools

Study Area & Zipcode

Special Education Major

Find Schools Near

Special Education

18,003 Master's Degrees Annually
257 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#9 in Popularity (Master's)
$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
Graduate Certificate 2,240
Doctor’s Degree 257

What Special Education Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to special ed and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Special Ed Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in special ed should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

undefined
  • 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:

undefined
  • 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

As a special ed major, you will find yourself needing the following abilities:

undefined
  • 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?

People with a special ed degree often go into the following careers:

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 Master’s Degree in Special Education?

18,013 Master's Degrees Annually
85% Percent Women
25% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is one of the most frequently chosen graduate majors. It is the 9th most popular in the country with 18,003 students graduating with a master’s in special ed in 2019. This major is dominated by women with about 85% of recent graduates being 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 Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 446
Black or African American 1,718
Hispanic or Latino 1,977
White 12,197
International Students 246
Other Races/Ethnicities 1,429

Geographic Diversity

Special Ed appeals to people across the globe. About 1.4% 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?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

The median early-career salary of special education students with a master’s degree is $47,350 a year according to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $43,550 (25th percentile) and $54,325 (75th percentile).

undefined

One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to special ed.

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 the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

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 )
0K
250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
0K
250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
0K
250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
0K
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.

undefined
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!

undefined

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.

Find Graduate Schools Near You

Our free school finder matches students with accredited graduate schools across the U.S.