Experienced teachers who are passionate about working with K-12 students with mild behavioral or academic disabilities should consider earning the Master of Science in Exceptional Student Education at Barry University. Students can complete this accelerated, online program in as few as 18 months, and they may be eligible for a TEACH Grant that can offset some of the cost of their graduate studies.

Increase Your Career Opportunities

Teachers can continue to work and earn a master’s degree in Exceptional Student Education, and they can expect to see a significant increase in leadership job opportunities and annual salaries. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that 14,300 new special education teacher positions will be created between 2019 and 2029. Additionally, positions such as a Director of Exceptional Education have an average yearly salary of $109,321, which is significantly more than the salary of a public school teacher without an advanced degree.

Thorough planning and preparation are key to a successful transition from graduate school to the professional world, so it is important to be familiar with potential career options. Here are four positions available to well-prepared graduates, and their average salaries as of July 2021:

  1. Exceptional Education Teacher

This is one of the most common careers for graduates with an advanced degree in Exceptional Education, and the demand will continue to grow over the next decade. Exceptional Education teachers create Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for students, assess students’ skill levels, mentor assistant teachers, guide students through challenging transitions, and adjust lesson plans or activities to meet the modification and accommodation requirements set forth in each IEP. The ability to effectively implement assistive technology into the learning environment and the flexibility to adapt and meet the exceptional needs of each student are both key to succeeding in this position.

The average yearly salary for an Exceptional Education Teacher is $61,420.

  1. Instructional Coordinator

Securing an Instructional Coordinator position requires successful completion of a master’s degree and relevant professional experience. Working teachers looking for leadership opportunities could combine their classroom experience with an advanced degree in Exceptional Student Education and seek a promotion to Instructional Coordinator. In this capacity, they are responsible for designing curricula, making decisions on which educational materials to purchase or use, coordinating teacher training, and evaluating assessment data.

The average yearly salary for an Instructional Coordinator is $66,970.

  1. Director of Exceptional Education

The Director of Exceptional Education is considered the ultimate position of leadership after earning an advanced degree in the field. The Director is responsible for making important decisions that directly affect an entire district’s effort to improve Exceptional Student Education. They oversee hiring, professional development of classroom teachers and support staff, and spearhead curricular changes or development. This role requires excellent leadership, research, management, and communication skills.

The average  yearly salary for a Director of Exceptional Education is $109,321.

  1. Principal

A building principal makes the majority of curricular, financial, and personnel decisions for one specific school. Principals oversee all aspects of school function, play a major role in assessing test scores and student performance, monitor the budget, and plan various school activities. The demand for principals is expected to grow by 4% over the next decade.

Completing a Master of Science in Exceptional Student Education provides preparation for a career path that could ultimately lead to a school principalship position, with additional leadership courses rounding out the preparation required.

The average yearly salary for a building Principal is $98,490.

Apply for Financial Support with a TEACH Grant

The expense of pursuing a master’s degree can be a challenge. However, students who are passionate about working in a high-need field and are enrolled in an eligible program, like the one offered by Barry University, can apply for a TEACH Grant. This grant means students may be awarded up to $4,000 dollars a year to offset a portion of the cost of their graduate degree.

Learn more about Barry University’s online Master of Science in Exceptional Student Education program.


Best Colleges: Special Education Careers

Federal Student Aid: Receive a TEACH Grant to Pay for College

Salary.com: Director of Special Education Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook:
Special Education Teachers
Instructional Coordinators
Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Zippia: Director of Special Education Jobs (Overview)