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How Much do Teachers Make?

How much you’ll earn as a teacher is dependent upon a number of factors – probably even more than you would have ever guessed.

Teacher salaries can and do vary significantly from one state to the next, one city to the next, and even from one school district to the next. Budgets, school district size, and cost of living, all play a part in what teacher salaries look like from place to place. The teacher’s union, the National Education Association (NEA), takes the reins of the collective bargaining process by negotiating pay hikes and better benefits both nationally and locally. But after the dust settles from the fight for better pay, there is no room for negotiations on an individual basis – a district’s salary schedule gets set in stone and is about as unwavering as it gets. For most teachers, that’s a relief since they don’t have to push for a higher salary on their own.

But you’ll be pleased to know that there are quite a few variables over which you do have control. With the right knowledge in your back pocket, you can increase your annual salary by thousands which, over the course of your career, can really add up. Teach a subject that’s listed as a teacher shortage area in your state…lend your talents to a high-needs/low-performing school district…earn a master’s degree or higher…become a National Board Certified Teacher— bigger paychecks are still something you can strive for, and there are quite a few ways to do it.

We’ve broken everything down and provided you with all the information you’ll need to better understand how much teachers are earning and how to maximize your earning power in this rewarding profession:

How the National Average and Median Teacher Salary Compares to What They Earn in the Top-Paying States

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a solid overview of what today’s teachers are earning at each level, as of May 2019.

While you’ll likely earn closer to the 25th percentile as a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree and near the 50th percentile mid-career, you’ll enjoy a salary closer to the 75th percentile once you earn a graduate degree and National Board Certification. You can expect to earn a salary that inches toward the 90thpercentile once you have both a graduate degree and significant teaching experience under your belt. For an easy comparison, we show salaries at all these levels:

Preschool teachers: $34,650 average salary

  • $24,830 (25th percentile)
  • $30,520 (50th percentile)
  • $39,720 (75th percentile)
  • $55,050 (90th percentile)

Elementary school teachers: $63,930 average salary

  • $47,300 (25th percentile)
  • $59,670 (50th percentile)
  • $77,400 (75th percentile)
  • $97,900 (90th percentile)

Middle school teachers: $63,550 average salary

  • $47,850 (25th percentile)
  • $59,660 (50th percentile)
  • $76,430 (75th percentile)
  • $96,280 (90th percentile)

High school teachers: $65,930 average salary

  • $49,060 (25th percentile)
  • $61,660 (50th percentile)
  • $79,820 (75th percentile)
  • $99,600 (90th percentile)

Special education teachers, preschool: $67,060 average salary

  • $45,990 (25th percentile)
  • $60,000 (50th percentile)
  • $79,910 (75th percentile)
  • $115,260 (90th percentile)

Special education teachers, kindergarten and elementary: $64,420 average salary

  • $48,800 (25th percentile)
  • $60,460 (50th percentile)
  • $77,420 (75th percentile)
  • $97,210 (90th percentile)

Special education teachers, middle school: $65,740 average salary

  • $50,010 (25th percentile)
  • $61,440 (50th percentile)
  • $79,030 (75th percentile)
  • $98,610 (90th percentile)

Special education teachers, secondary school: $65,710 average salary

  • $49,820 (25th percentile)
  • $61,710 (50th percentile)
  • $79,150 (75th percentile)
  • $98,890 (90th percentile)

Here you’ll find the overall national median along with the top paying states (according to average salary) for each grade level.

Median Teacher Salaries by Grade Level or Subject

Preschool

National Median: $30,520

Top paid states:
New Jersey: $43,360
Connecticut: $43,080
New York: $42,330
Hawaii: $42,160

Preschool — Special Education

National Median: $67,060

Top paid states:
New York: $89,930
Oregon: $77,320
Rhode Island: $72,750
Connecticut: $70,400
New Jersey: $68,960

Elementary

National Median: $59,670

Top paid states:
New York: $82,830
California: $82,560
Massachusetts: $82,450
Washington, D.C.: $79,390
Connecticut: $78,070

Kindergarten and Elementary — Special Education

National Median: $60,460

Top paid states:
New York: $81,660
Oregon: $78,910
California: $78,440
Washington, DC: $77,720
Connecticut: $77,440

Middle School

National Median: $59,660

Top paid states:
New York: $87,050
Alaska: $80,730
Massachusetts: $80,520
California: $80,160
Connecticut: $79,510

Middle School — Special Education

National Median: $61,440

Top paid states:
New York: $87,440
Texas: $56,720
New Jersey: $73,160
Ohio: $62,200
Massachusetts: $76,530

High School

National Median: $61,660

Top paid states:
New York: $87,240
California: $85,080
Massachusetts: $81,070
Connecticut: $78,540
New Jersey: $78,090

High School — Special Education

National Median: $61,710

Top paid states:
New York: $83,890
California: $83,000
Maryland: $80,800
Oregon: $79,460
Washington, DC: $79,010

Substitute

National Median: $28,790

Top paid states:
Hawaii: $48,200
Oregon: $44,710
California: $41,650
Massachusetts: $41,390
New York: $41,250

How Location and Local Tax Levies Influence What You Can Expect to Earn

Where you teach will play a big part in what you can expect to earn as an educator. You’ll find significant differences in pay for teachers from one state to the next, between different cities in the same state, and even from one school district to the next.

While public schools receive funds from local, state, and federal sources, the majority of funding comes from local property taxes. Therefore, school districts in wealthier communities tend to have larger school budgets (higher property values = more taxes), which in turn means higher pay for teachers.

Cost of living is determined by everything from the price of a new house to rental prices to healthcare costs to what you’ll pay at the grocery store. So, in some states where the cost of living is lower than the national average, a teacher’s salary can take you much further than it does in a state where the cost of living is much higher than the national average. In other words, don’t take teacher salaries at face value because the numbers can be deceiving.

For example, based on current cost of living estimates, a $40,000 teacher’s salary in Boise, ID, is equivalent to a teacher’s salary of $51,144 in Las Vegas, NV, and a $35,000 salary in Birmingham, AL, is equivalent to a salary of $86,047 in Los Angeles, CA.

You can get a better idea of how far your teacher’s salary will take you from one metro area to the next using this Cost Of Living Calculator.

Public vs. Private School Teacher Salaries

You’ve probably heard that public school teachers earn more than private school teachers, and this is true, in most cases. Supported by federal, state, and local resources, public schools can and do offer higher salaries to teachers.

Montessori and a few other well-known private schools that follow a very specific approach to education are often able to charge tuition rates that support some pretty impressive teacher salaries, but these schools represent the exception to the general rule. On the whole, most students outside of the public school system aren’t attending these big name private schools, but instead are in teaching collectives in which multiple families come together to hire teachers capable of providing a well-rounded education. As you can imagine, this isn’t the kind of arrangement where teachers can negotiate for higher pay and benefits.

Private schools are typically supported only by tuition, or in some cases, fundraising efforts, as is sometimes the case in religious schools where students may receive state-funded education benefits in lieu of conventional tuition payments. But even in states that make funds available to individual students enrolled in these types of private schools, the salaries don’t typically match what public school teachers are earning.

That’s not to say that working outside of public school districts doesn’t have its advantages. Many private school teachers will tell you that the small class sizes provide more opportunities to connect and interact with their students, while teaching in a school environment that’s not so strictly dictated by state and federal guidelines gives them more flexibility to design and implement curricula that best matches their students’ needs and interests.

Teachers working in educational support services are the other top earners in this field. Educators working in educational support services oversee course/curriculum design and implementation and generally work for state and local governments.

The BLS provides an overview of average salaries for teachers, according to the setting in which they work:

Preschool teachers

  • Elementary and secondary schools: $48,840
  • Religious organizations: $38,090
  • Child daycare services: $30,940
  • Civil and social organizations: $34,170
  • Social advocacy organizations: $35,120

Elementary school teachers

  • Elementary and secondary schools: $63,980
  • Religious organizations: $52,380
  • Child daycare services: $34,950
  • Educational support services: $49,590

Middle school teachers

  • Elementary and secondary schools: $63,530
  • Religious organizations: $62,910
  • Educational support services: $53,800
  • Residential care facilities: $47,600

High school teachers

  • Elementary and secondary schools: $65,960
  • Religious organizations: $61,390
  • Educational support services: $58,500
  • Residential care facilities: $45,910

Special education teachers, preschool

  • Elementary and secondary schools: $48,840
  • Religious organizations: $38,090
  • Child daycare services: $30,940
  • Individual and family services: $34,920

Special education teachers, kindergarten and elementary

  • Elementary and secondary schools: $64,340
  • Residential care facilities: $53,280
  • Educational support services: $85,170

Special education teachers, middle school

  • Elementary and secondary schools: $65,730
  • Educational support services: $66,330
  • Residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities: $51,940

Special education teachers, secondary school

  • Elementary and secondary schools: $66,040
  • Vocational rehabilitation services: $64,430
  • Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals: $61,220
  • Educational support services: $56,080

A Closer Look at Preschool Teacher Salaries

While current BLS stats show fairly similar average salaries across most grade levels, preschool teachers are the exception, making far less than their colleagues teaching at other grade levels – about $25,000 less, on average. While this difference in pay has a lot to do with the many private preschool teachers who nearly always make less than public preschool teachers, even public preschool teachers tend to earn less in many states than those who teach higher grades.

In fact, it’s no secret that preschool teachers have long been underdogs when it comes to pay, despite the fact that countless studies have conclusively found that education at the preschool level is just as important as it is in the subsequent grades.

Recognizing the importance of education for the nation’s youngest learners, many state-funded preschool programs now require preschool teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree and appropriate teacher certification. According to a January 2020 report by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), 78% of all state-funded public preschool programs, 56% of state-funded private preschool programs, and 75% of state-funded preschool programs that serve both public and private settings require teachers to hold at least a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certification.

Despite this, only about half the states in the U.S. have laws in place that provide preschool teachers with the same starting salary and salary schedule as its K-12 teachers.

Of the 25 states with pay parity laws in place as of 2017-18, just eight states and Washington D.C. (which has a universal preschool program) had pay parity laws that applied to both private and public school PreK teachers. The remaining states require pay parity only in public school settings:

  • Alabama (public and private)
  • Alaska (public only)
  • California TK (public only)
  • Washington D.C. (universal preschool)
  • Georgia (public only)
  • Hawaii (public only)
  • Iowa (public only)
  • Kentucky (public only)
  • Maine (public only)
  • Minnesota VPK (public and private)
  • Missouri (public and private)
  • Montana (public only)
  • Nevada (public and private)
  • New Jersey (public and private)
  • New Mexico (public only)
  • North Carolina (public only)
  • Oklahoma (public only)
  • Oregon (Preschool Promise – public and private)
  • Rhode Island (public and private)
  • South Carolina (public only)
  • Tennessee (public only)
  • Texas (public only)
  • Vermont (public only)
  • Virginia (public only)
  • West Virginia (public only)

In a few states with pay parity laws, preschool teachers may earn even more than their K-3 colleagues. For example, in Washington D.C., the average public elementary school teacher salary is $60,483, while the average salary for preschool teachers is $86,898. And in Virginia, public preschool teachers earn an average of about $7,000 more annually than their K-3 counterparts: $56,861 vs $51,265.

Teacher Salaries According to Level of Education

Moving beyond the standard bachelor’s degree is one of the most effective ways to earn a bigger salary.

While a bachelor’s degree that includes a teacher preparation program leading to state licensure remains the minimum requirement to teach in the U.S., and just three states (Connecticut, Maryland, and New York) require a master’s degree to maintain a teaching license. However, about one-third of all states recognize advanced licenses and higher salaries for those who earn a master’s degree or higher.

And even in those states without advanced credentials for master’s degree holders, a master’s degree almost always equates to a higher annual salary. According to a 2019 National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) study of 124 large school districts, 92% of all districts paid their teachers more for holding an advanced degree. About 58% of these districts have pay increases for master’s degrees built into their salary schedules, while about 33% pay their teachers with advanced degrees an annual stipend or bonus.

According to the NCTQ, teachers with a master’s degree earn an average of $5,285 more annually than teachers with a bachelor’s degree as their highest degree. This means that over the course of a teacher’s career, a master’s-prepared educator will make an average of nearly $160,000 more than one with a bachelor’s.

In some districts, the difference in pay among bachelor’s and master’s-prepared teachers is significant. For example:

(Min-max difference in annual pay between a teacher with a BA and a teacher with an MA)

  • Billings Public Schools (Billings, MT): $8,430 – $14,784
  • Bismarck Public Schools (Bismarck, ND): $5,144 – $26,762
  • District of Columbia Public Schools: $3,680 – $20,476
  • Fairfax County Public School (Reston, Herndon VA): $5,628 – $21,725
  • Granite School District (Salt Lake City, UT): $4,301 – $10,623
  • Montgomery County Public Schools (Columbia, MD): $4,984 – $36,716
  • Omaha Public Schools (Omaha, NE): $4,100 -$10,660
  • Portland Public Schools (Portland, OR): $7,847 – $11,727
  • Santa Ana Unified School District (Santa Ana, CA): $1,565 – $48,854
  • Seattle Public Schools (Seattle, WA): $8,945 – $20,712
  • Springfield Public School District (Springfield, MO): $3,830 – $17,178
  • Anchorage School District (Anchorage, AK): $5,458 – $12,101
  • Anne Arundel County Public Schools (Annapolis, MD): $3,754 – $24,719
  • Baltimore County Public Schools (Baltimore, MD): $1,108 – $36,364
  • Burlington School District (Burlington, VT): $7,114 – $18,743

Financial Benefits of National Board Certification

National Board Certification serves as the highest nationally recognized credential in K-12 public school teaching and is an indication that a teacher has met the profession’s highest standards. To qualify for this designation, you must have a bachelor’s degree, a valid state teaching license, and at least three years of teaching experience.

National Board Certification is available in 25 certificate areas that represent 16 different disciplines and four developmental levels.

Being a designated National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) not only positions you among the most highly qualified teachers in the field, it also often comes with financial perks. In fact, about half of all states offer salary incentives to encourage teachers to pursue National Board Certification.

Most states reward NBCTs with an annual stipend, while a few offer standard pay increases. And in many states, NBCTs working in high-needs areas or schools receive a larger stipend:

  • Alabama: $5,000 annual stipend, with an additional $5,000 for NBCTs in high-needs areas
  • Arkansas: $2,500 annual stipend for NBCTs for 5 years; $5,000 for NBCTs teaching in a high-poverty school not located in a high-poverty district (5 years); and $10,000 for NBCTs teaching in a high-poverty school in a high-poverty district (10 years)
  • Colorado: $1,600 annual stipend, with an additional $3,200 for NBCTs in high needs schools
  • Delaware: 12% salary supplement
  • Hawaii: $5,000 annual stipend, with an additional $5,000 for NBCTs in high-needs schools
  • Iowa: $2,500 annual stipend (for a term of 10 years)
  • Idaho: $2,000 annual stipend (for a term of 5 years)
  • Kansas: $1,000 annual stipend
  • Kentucky: $2,000 annual stipend
  • Maine: $3,000 annual stipend, with an additional $5,000 for NBCTs working in districts where at least 50% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches
  • Maryland: State to match $1,000 from districts annually, and an additional $1,000 for NBCTs in high-needs schools
  • Nevada 5% annual salary increase
  • Oklahoma: Up to $1,000 annually
  • Mississippi: $6,000 annual stipend and an additional $4,000 for NBCTs in 16 counties
  • Montana: $2,500 annual stipend for NBCTs in high-needs schools; $1,500 stipend for all other NBCTs (both stipends contingent upon district contribution of $500)
  • Nevada: $5,800 annual stipend
  • North Carolina: $12% above base pay
  • Utah: $2,000 annually for NBCTs in Title I Schools; $1,000 annually for all other NBCTs
  • South Dakota: $2,000 annual stipend for at least 5 years
  • Virginia: Initial award of $5,000, subsequent $2,500 annually
  • Washington: $5,505 annual stipend, with an additional $5,000 for NBCTs in high needs schools
  • West Virginia: $3,500 annual stipend, with an additional $2,000 for NBCTs in low-performing schools
  • Wisconsin: $2,500 annual stipend for the first year, with an additional $2,500 annually for NBCTs in high needs schools
  • Wyoming: $4,000 annual stipend

In other states, National Board Certification designation counts toward licensure renewal or an advanced teaching license. For example, in Florida, National Board Certification counts toward obtaining or renewing a Professional Certification, while in Kentucky, it provides a path toward a Rank I Professional Certificate.

Learn more about National Board Certification recognition and current financial incentives in your state.

Financial Incentives for Educators Teaching in Teacher Shortage Areas

While the subject you teach and the grade level in which you teach won’t play a huge part in what you’ll earn as a teacher, as most school districts follow strict salary schedules that take only education and experience into consideration, in many school districts, you’ll earn an annual stipend, signing bonus, or even student loan repayment if you teach in a subject that’s been designated as a teacher shortage area.

The teacher shortage in the U.S. is reaching unprecedented heights. According to the Economic Policy Institute, there was a shortage of 110,000 teachers in the U.S. in 2018, and by 2025, this number could reach 200,000.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, which maintains a database of U.S. teacher shortages, 45 states and Washington D.C. experienced special education teacher shortages in the 2020-21 school year, either in specific grades/special education areas or statewide. School districts in low socio-economic areas are affected most by teacher shortages.

State educational agencies identify their teacher shortage areas and provide this information to the U.S. Department of Education. Teacher shortage areas may include a statewide shortage in a particular teacher license field, an economic development region within the state, or a teacher license field within an economic development region.

Teaching an approved teacher shortage subject and/or teaching in high-needs area may allow you to take advantage of loan forgiveness programs available at the federal and state levels.

At the federal level, the TEACH (Teacher Education Assistants for College and Higher Education) Grant Program provides grants of up to $4,000 per year for students who agree to serve as a teacher in a high-need field that serves students from low-income families. Current high-need fields include:

  • Special education
  • Bilingual education/English language acquisition
  • Foreign language
  • Mathematics
  • Reading specialist
  • Science

The Teacher Forgiveness Program is another federal program that provides up to $17,500 in loan repayment for teachers with Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans. To qualify, you must be employed at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that serves low-income students, and you must be employed as a full-time, highly qualified teacher for five, consecutive academic years.

Many states also offer loan repayment programs for teachers in teacher shortage areas or other high-demand areas. For example, Minnesota offers the Minnesota Teacher Shortage Loan Repayment Program that pays up to $1,000 in annual loan repayment assistance (up to $5,000 total) to educators teaching in a statewide teaching shortage area.

Check with your state’s education agency to learn more about tuition grants and loan repayment incentives available in your state.

At the local level, school districts may also offer specific financial incentives such as signing bonuses and annual stipends for teachers assuming or remaining in areas designated as teacher shortage areas. For example, Lexington School District in Columbia, SC, is offering a $2,500 signing bonus for new special education; secondary math and science; middle level math, science, ELA, and social studies; and foreign language teachers during the 2020-2021 school year.

A Closer Look at Teacher Salaries at Different Grade Levels by Metro Area

What are teachers earning where you live? The following salary ranges (50th – 90th percentile) highlight what teachers in some of the nation’s largest metro areas are earning as of May 2019:

 

Montgomery, Alabama

  • Preschool teachers: $25,390 – $43,630
  • Elementary school teachers: $51,530 – $61,880
  • Middle school teachers: $48,730 – $62,040
  • High school teachers: $49,840 – $63,040
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $40,220 – $58,290

 

Anchorage, Alaska

  • Preschool teachers: $28,970 – $39,9900
  • Elementary school teachers: $74,720 – $106,970
  • Middle school teachers: $80,400 – $119,400
  • High school teachers: $80,090 – $117,970

 

Phoenix (includes Mesa, Scottsdale), Arizona

  • Preschool teachers: $28,500 – $46,430
  • Elementary school teachers: $45,660 – $61,930
  • Middle school teachers: $45,240 – $62,380
  • High school teachers: $50,650 – $73,930
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $46,490 – $63,590

 

Little Rock (includes North Little Rock, Conway), Arkansas

  • Preschool teachers: $32,960 – $48,570
  • Elementary school teachers: $51,130 – $69,110
  • Middle school teachers: $52,490 – $71,620
  • High school teachers: $55,760 – $75,000
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $51,020 – $67,220

 

Los Angeles (includes Long Beach, Anaheim), California

  • Preschool teachers: $30,950 – $52,840
  • Elementary school teachers: $87,770 – $123,350
  • Middle school teachers: $86,930 – $115,180
  • High school teachers: $86,560 – $107,500
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $83,520 – $121,680

 

Denver (includes Aurora, Lakewood), Colorado

  • Preschool teachers: $32,630 – $51,000
  • Elementary school teachers: $56,080 – $82,000
  • Middle school teachers: $54,980 – $81,850
  • High school teachers: $58,190 – $85,540
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $57,260 – $81,790

 

Bridgeport (includes Stamford, Norwalk), Connecticut

  • Preschool teachers: $37,000 – $72,170
  • Elementary school teachers: $83,750 – $118,940
  • Middle school teachers: $85,710 – $122,450
  • High school teachers: $85,580 – $123,070
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $76,970 – $105,540

 

District of Columbia (includes Arlington, Alexandria VA)

  • Preschool teachers: $35,290 – $58,830
  • Elementary school teachers: $79,330 – $124,720
  • Middle school teachers: $81,250 – $124,890
  • High school teachers: $77,060 – $126,800
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $74,730 – $120,660

 

Jacksonville, Florida

  • Preschool teachers: $24,660 – $38,750
  • Elementary school teachers: $61,920 – $86,620
  • Middle school teachers: $58,860 – $81,100
  • High school teachers: $61,940 – $87,460
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $56,990 – $84,270

 

Atlanta (includes Sandy Springs, Roswell), Georgia

  • Preschool teachers: $28,890 – $48,920
  • Elementary school teachers: $58,600 – $79,620
  • Middle school teachers: $59,070 – $87,010
  • High school teachers: $60,190 – $80,780
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $61,690 – $87,420

 

Honolulu, Hawaii

  • Preschool teachers: $40,410 – $55,860
  • Elementary school teachers: $63,170 – $82,070
  • Middle school teachers: $63,510 – $84,850
  • High school teachers: $61,360 – $84,530
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $57,210 – $76,990

 

Boise, Idaho

  • Preschool teachers: $23,780 – $31,160
  • Elementary school teachers: $47,190 – $74,200
  • Middle school teachers: $50,850 – $75,000
  • High school teachers: $49,900 – $74,520
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $49,160 – $74,170

 

Chicago (includes Naperville, Elgin), Illinois

  • Preschool teachers: $30,280 – $47,840
  • Elementary school teachers: $63,630 – $99,900
  • Middle school teachers: $63,100 – $99,610
  • High school teachers: $76,590 – $123,080
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $63,330 – $99,580

 

Indianapolis (includes Carmel, Anderson), Indiana

  • Preschool teachers: $26,840 – $38,520
  • Elementary school teachers: $51,690 – $85,980
  • Middle school teachers: $52,250 – $79,480
  • High school teachers: $51,610 – $79,710
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $54,660 – $98,430

 

Des Moines, Iowa

  • Preschool teachers: $26,160 – $33,970
  • Elementary school teachers: $57,680 – $79,380
  • Middle school teachers: $55,750 – $79,560
  • High school teachers: $59,140 – $84,680
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $55,340 – $80,430

 

Wichita, Kansas

  • Preschool teachers: $29,320 – $51,490
  • Elementary school teachers: $50,250 – $64,250
  • Middle school teachers: $51,620 – $65,160
  • High school teachers: $52,460 – $65,810
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $55,250 – $66,790

 

Louisville, Kentucky

  • Preschool teachers: $23,430 – $54,090
  • Elementary school teachers: $52,340 – $74,020
  • Middle school teachers: $53,860 – $73,460
  • High school teachers: $55,670 – $76,100
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $52,380 – $70,200

 

New Orleans (includes Metairie), Louisiana

  • Preschool teachers: $26,210 – $44,060
  • Elementary school teachers: $48,860 – $62,100
  • Middle school teachers: $49,430 – $62,130
  • High school teachers: $51,410 – $65,500
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $49,350 – $61,810

 

Portland (includes South Portland), Maine

  • Preschool teachers: $36,800 – $51,360
  • Elementary school teachers: $62,010 – $79,630
  • Middle school teachers: $62,280 – $78,700
  • High school teachers: $63,240 – $79,040
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $56,510 – $77,570

 

Baltimore (includes Columbia, Townson), Maryland

  • Preschool teachers: $32,280 – $74,000
  • Elementary school teachers: $72,740 – $100,890
  • Middle school teachers: $63,500 – $94,070
  • High school teachers: $73,250 – $100,400
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $69,600 – $101,680

 

Boston (includes Cambridge, Nashua, NH), Massachusetts

  • Preschool teachers: $36,560 – $59,580
  • Elementary school teachers: $81,990 – $123,650
  • Middle school teachers: $78,460 – $115,230
  • High school teachers: $79,700 – $117,090
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $74,720 – $114,210

 

Detroit, Michigan

  • Preschool teachers: $28,610 – $58,690
  • Elementary school teachers: $76,240 – $110,860
  • Middle school teachers: $67,740 – $98,150
  • High school teachers: $65,210 – $97,630
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $64,060 – $99,250

 

Minneapolis (includes St. Paul, Bloomington), Minnesota

  • Preschool teachers: $36,430 – $58,800
  • Elementary school teachers: $65,300 – $96,290
  • Middle school teachers: $65,530 – $100,840
  • High school teachers: $66,090 – $97,680
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $61,950 – $92,170

 

Jackson, Mississippi

  • Preschool teachers: $24,630 – $38,430
  • Elementary school teachers: $42,480 – $56,040
  • Middle school teachers: $44,560 – $60,500
  • High school teachers: $44,290 – $63,420
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $44,720 – $59,130

 

Kansas City, Missouri

  • Preschool teachers: $28,640 – $45,920
  • Elementary school teachers: $51,590 – $83,060
  • Middle school teachers: $50,630 – $84,500
  • High school teachers: $50,670 – $88,310
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $56,600 – $82,200

 

Billings, Montana

  • Preschool teachers: $27,680 – $38,240
  • Elementary school teachers: $55,210 – $76,670
  • Middle school teachers: $66,520 – $79,150
  • High school teachers: $59,520 – $78,400
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $50,910 – $75,000

 

Omaha (includes Council Bluffs, IA), Nebraska

  • Preschool teachers: $38,160 – $59,600
  • Elementary school teachers: $59,380 – $84,120
  • Middle school teachers: $60,150 – $83,200
  • High school teachers: $60,930 – $81,010
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $60,930 – $82,270

 

Las Vegas (includes Henderson, Paradise), Nevada

  • Preschool teachers: $27,300 – $50,590
  • Elementary school teachers: $56,140 – $77,760
  • Middle school teachers: $59,300 – $79,310
  • High school teachers: $57,690 – $78,690
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $54,730 – $75,600

 

Manchester, New Hampshire

  • Preschool teachers: $29,510 – $38,140
  • Elementary school teachers: $58,980 – $77,280
  • Middle school teachers: $59,230 – $83,040
  • High school teachers: $56,120 – $77,970
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $56,210 – $76,590

 

New York City (includes Newark, Jersey City NJ), New York

  • Preschool teachers: $38,950 – $72,420
  • Elementary school teachers: $80,110 – $127,210
  • Middle school teachers: $83,090 – $124,870
  • High school teachers: $88,840 – $129,200
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $78,950 – $119,400

 

Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Preschool teachers: $28,240 – $55,560
  • Elementary school teachers: $54,040 – $80,290
  • Middle school teachers: $47,770 – $60,900
  • High school teachers: $52,700 – $64,910
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $47,160 – $62,810

 

Charlotte (includes Concord, Gastonia), North Carolina

  • Preschool teachers: $25,420 – $35,090
  • Elementary school teachers: $49,440 – $65,140
  • Middle school teachers: $50,950 – $66,100
  • High school teachers: $49,650 – $64,430
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $51,720 – $64,900

 

Fargo, North Dakota

  • Preschool teachers: $27,880 – $41,390
  • Elementary school teachers: $59,900 – $105,720
  • Middle school teachers: $64,980 – $114,900
  • High school teachers: $60,350 – $92,210
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $77,470 – $120,100

 

Columbus, Ohio

  • Preschool teachers: $29,280 – $44,870
  • Elementary school teachers: $66,950 – $94,760
  • Middle school teachers: $60,300 – $84,140
  • High school teachers: $69,210 – $95,560
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $55,950 – $84,160

 

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

  • Preschool teachers: $24,230 – $44,610
  • Elementary school teachers: $43,290 – $70,510
  • Middle school teachers: $44,190 – $69,940
  • High school teachers: $43,580 – $70,700
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $49,440 – $77,870

 

Portland (includes Vancouver, WA, and Hillsboro, OR), Oregon

  • Preschool teachers: $31,120 – $44,670
  • Elementary school teachers: $73,640 – $115,810
  • Middle school teachers: $75,210 – $107,200
  • High school teachers: $76,360 – $112,780
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $77,470 – $120,100

 

Philadelphia (includes Camden, NJ and Wilmington, DE), Pennsylvania

  • Preschool teachers: $29,220 – $46,770
  • Elementary school teachers: $70,530 – $105,200
  • Middle school teachers: $72,290 – $112,150
  • High school teachers: $66,100 – $100,500
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $64,290 – $96,300

 

Providence (includes Warwick, MA), Rhode Island

  • Preschool teachers: $29,470 – $40,410
  • Elementary school teachers: $75,840 – $100,630
  • Middle school teachers: $77,320 – $100,590
  • High school teachers: $80,520 – $101,120
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $75,680 – $100,170

 

Charleston (includes North Charleston), South Carolina

  • Preschool teachers: $27,800 – $47,670
  • Elementary school teachers: $51,130 – $77,110
  • Middle school teachers: $50,950 – $66,100
  • High school teachers: $53,510 – $78,920
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $55,170 – $81,480

 

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

  • Preschool teachers: $28,100 – $39,270
  • Elementary school teachers: $46,810 – $61,240
  • Middle school teachers: $47,200 – $61,280
  • High school teachers: $47,360 – $61,890
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $48,720 – $62,250

 

Nashville (includes Davidson, Murfreesboro, Franklin), Tennessee

  • Preschool teachers: $26,350 – $49,130
  • Elementary school teachers: $52,380 – $74,600
  • Middle school teachers: $51,330 – $73,790
  • High school teachers: $52,350 – $76,780
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $52,300 – $70,020

 

Houston (includes the Woodlands, Sugar Land), Texas

  • Preschool teachers: $30,650 – $64,940
  • Elementary school teachers: $58,410 – $71,710
  • Middle school teachers: $58,440 – $72,110
  • High school teachers: $60,140 – $76,540
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $59,090 – $73,460

 

Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Preschool teachers: $26,890 – $38,120
  • Elementary school teachers: $51,150 – $92,380
  • Middle school teachers: $66,240 – $93,600
  • High school teachers: $55,880 – $78,980
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $43,900 – $92,280

 

Burlington (includes South Burlington), Vermont

  • Preschool teachers: $33,860 – $45,530
  • Elementary school teachers: $60,150 – $93,680
  • Middle school teachers: $66,170 – $95,120
  • High school teachers: $68,430 – $99,560
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $57,720 – $94,030

 

Virginia Beach (includes Norfolk, Newport News), Virginia

  • Preschool teachers: $24,490 – $78,700
  • Elementary school teachers: $72,380 – $96,900
  • Middle school teachers: $72,340 – $98,730
  • High school teachers: $71,910 – $98,550
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $73,640 – $98,590

 

Seattle (includes Tacoma, Bellevue), Washington

  • Preschool teachers: $35,320 – $47,470
  • Elementary school teachers: $69,600 – $98,460
  • Middle school teachers: $70,360 – $100,150
  • High school teachers: $72,220 – $99,780
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $69,270 – $95,030

 

Milwaukee (includes Waukesha, West Allis), Wisconsin

  • Preschool teachers: $26,170 – $35,880
  • Elementary school teachers: $59,290 – $80,380
  • Middle school teachers: $58,850 – $83,340
  • High school teachers: $61,720 – $83,180
  • Special education teachers (K and elementary school): $59,150 – $85,720

 

Cheyenne, Wyoming

  • Preschool teachers: $22,320 – $30,130
  • Elementary school teachers: $60,940 – $77,130
  • Middle school teachers: $63,440 – $77,680
  • High school teachers: $62,530 – $77,700

 

Interview with Amanda Williamson, Fifth Grade Teacher

Amanda Williamson is currently a 5th grade teacher in Missouri. She has completed nine years of teaching in two different states. Amanda earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She then completed her master’s degree in Educational Leadership K-12 as well as her Education Specialist Degree in Superintendency, both at Northwest Missouri State University. Amanda serves on multiple instructional leadership and curriculum development teams within her district.

Did you expect to earn more or less than you did starting as a teacher? Were you surprised by your starting salary?

When I first began teaching, my salary was what I expected it to be. I have spent most of my teaching career in large, successful public schools that pay well compared to their peer districts – so I wasn’t disappointed when comparing my salary to other educators in smaller districts or inner-city districts. However, I was disappointed when my younger siblings and friends got their first jobs (not as teachers) and made more than I did starting out. In fact, many non-educators I know with a standard four-year degree earn as much as I do now with nearly ten years of experience and two graduate-level degrees. Of course, I have a lot of student loan debt because of my graduate degrees, which makes my salary feel even lower. The thing I consider now in my salary are my benefits. While many of my peers make as much or even quite a bit more than me, they are paying significantly more than me for insurance and benefits and have to work harder to invest for retirement than I do.

Are teachers typically paid a salary or they paid hourly?

Most certified teachers are paid a salary. Many adults that work in education but are not considered “certificated” (or teachers in most cases) are paid hourly. For example, paraprofessionals, support staff, and custodial workers are paid hourly. Districts still adhere to a strict hourly work requirement for teachers that is typically under 40 hours a week. Districts that are union-driven struggle to get staff to do anything outside of their required hours even though staff are paid salary and not hourly.

Another thing to note about salary in teaching is the pay dates. Many districts pay their staff only once a month, however there are districts beginning to pay their teachers twice a month. For many teachers, in their first ever contracted job or when starting in a new district, may go 30 days before receiving their first paycheck. For example – one district here in Missouri pays their teachers once a month from August to August. They pay their staff on the 25th of the month. So first year teachers or new to district teachers begin work early in August but don’t get their check until the end of the month. If you are coming from a previous teaching job, this likely won’t be a problem as you carry your salary over from that job, but as a teacher right out of college, this first month of teaching can be very difficult financially.

Are you given raises? If so, how often? What factors determine whether or not you are given a raise?

Most school districts have a standard “salary schedule” in which your salary is determined by your years of experience as well as your level of degrees. Teachers are never guaranteed to be placed on the schedule according to their years of experience – districts can opt to put you wherever they choose. In this system, each year of experience a teacher gains moves them up on the salary schedule (if approved by the board). Each district makes their own payment schedule and determines if the schedule should be adjusted over the years for cost of living changes and inflation. Districts have the right to freeze the schedule at any time and not move teachers up if they cannot afford it. At the start of the school year, the movement of staff up the payment schedule must be approved each year by the board.

In some districts there are opportunities to serve on committees or teams that give teachers stipends for their work. This is another way to add to your salary each year. However, it does often come with extra time commitments and work. Sometimes these are paid in lump sums and sometimes they are spread out over your paychecks.

Did earning a graduate degree help you earn more money?

Earning a graduate degree did help me earn more money – however, since I could not afford to pay cash for graduate school, I am paying those student loans with the extra money I am making. When I began graduate school, I did the math on how long it would take for my salary increase to go into my pocket instead of toward loans. If I pay only using the salary increase that I have from my first master’s degree to pay towards my loans (which does not cover the quickest and lowest interest pay-off option), it will take me approximately 15 years, give or take with interest rates. In order to pay them off quicker I would have to pay more out of my salary, making it lower than it was before the student loan debt. Once I went back for another graduate degree, the pay increase from that degree would not benefit me at all unless I used it to get a position outside of the classroom one day. Otherwise, the cost of the degree would basically break even with the pay increase I would get from it.

Ultimately, it is smart as a teacher to get a master’s degree. Many districts quit providing pay increases after so many years without a graduate degree of some sort. This is not negotiable. If you retire in teaching, the cost of the master’s degree would be paid off. If you can find a program or district that helps or completely pays for your graduate degrees, this is the best route and worth whatever extra work comes with it. I regret not going that route.

Are you expected to spend any of your own money on school supplies, office decorations, or anything else? If so, how much? (if you are given a stiped for this, please elaborate)

Most established, public schools do not expect teachers to buy any supplies with their own money. However, it is absolutely impossible to start and maintain a classroom without spending your own money. If you are fortunate enough to work in a district where families are financially secure, many of them will donate items to your classroom which is very helpful, but this is not always the case. Many teachers, myself included, who work in districts that have a high rate of poverty, spend a lot of their own money on their students because it is very difficult to see children suffer and do without when it is not their fault they are in that situation.

All the school districts I have worked for have given teachers a stipend at the beginning of the year for classroom items. One school gave teachers $250 – however, none of their students came with supplies as that was not required in that district. Another district changed from year to year, but was in the range of $100-$150 for teachers each year. This amount includes any supplies you need to do your job. A few examples might be: small group supplies, individual student whiteboards, grading materials, turn in baskets, classroom set of scissors, extra glue and pencils and all types of paper, folders and organizational materials, and so on. It is impossible to buy what you need to do your job well and keep kids engaged with the stipend schools provide to teachers.

 

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which preschool teachers work. BLS salary data represents average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which elementary school teachers work. BLS salary data represents average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which middle school teachers work. BLS salary data represents average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which secondary school teachers work. BLS salary data represents average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which special education teachers, kindergarten and elementary work. BLS salary data represents average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which special education teachers, preschool work. BLS salary data represents average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which special education teachers, middle school work. BLS salary data represents average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which special education teachers, secondary school work. BLS salary data represents average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.

All salary and employment data accessed October 2020.