10 alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States (2023)

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10 alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States (1)

Gerald Herbert/AP
  • In the United States, many first-year teachers can expect to earn a salary of less than $40,000.
  • The average teacher spends almost $500 on their own classroom supplies, and many teachers are forced to work a second job to make ends meet.
  • Here are 10 alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States.
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With the beginning of the school year well underway, thousands of teachers across the United States are busy lesson-planning, supply-buying, and, most importantly, shaping the minds of tomorrow.

While educating our youngest generation is a huge responsibility, it comes with an unexpectedly low monetary return.

Despite requiring significant schooling, training, and certification to become a teacher, the profession pays significantly less than other career paths requiring the same level of education.

Some teachers are even having to turn to alternative methods of making money on the side in order to make ends meet.

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Here are 10 of the most alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States.

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The average salary for a teacher in the US is $60,477, and starting salaries are often below $40,000.

10 alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States (2)

Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday RM via Getty Images

According to the National Education Association, the average salary for a teacher in the US was $60,477 a year for the 2017-18 school year. For context, that's around the same average salary as a personal trainer or an event planner.

Meanwhile, the average starting salary for a teacher in the US is below $40,000 in 63% of the nation's school districts, according to the organization. And in nearly 300 districts, teachers earn a starting salary below $30,000.

According to a recent Economic Policy Institute report, teachers are paid 21.4% less than similarly educated and experienced professionals.

The US ranks seventh in the world for teacher pay — but pays less than half of what the No. 1 country pays its teachers.

10 alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States (3)

Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The US consistently ranks seventh in the world for average teacher pay.

At the top of the payscale, a US elementary school teacher makes $67,000 a year, and a US high school teacher makes $71,000 a year on average.

Compare this to Luxembourg, the No. 1 country for teacher salary, where elementary school educators make up to $124,000 a year on average, and high school teachers make $138,000 a year.

Other countries that beat the US in teacher pay include Switzerland, South Korea, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and for elementary school teachers, Ireland.

In the highest-paying state for teachers, New York, teachers need to earn a master's degree within five years.

10 alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States (4)

Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

Teachers in New Yorkmake a median salary of $78,576 a year.

According toCNN, that's around the same salary as a physician's assistant, a college agricultural sciences professor, or a veterinarian.

That's also about $25,000 above the median salary of all workers in New York, which comes out to $50,825 a year.

Of course, it is also worth noting that New York is one of the few states that requires its teachers to earn a master's degree within the first five years of teaching.

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And in the lowest-paying state, Oklahoma, half of all teachers are making less than $33,630 a year.

10 alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States (5)

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

According to USA Today, Oklahoma teachers make a median of $39,306 a year, only a few thousand dollars above the median Oklahoma salary of $33,630 a year. Keep in mind that this is the median, which means that roughly half of the teachers in the state make less than that amount.

According to careerbuilder.com, $39,000 a year is roughly the same average salary as a carpenter, construction equipment operator, or a correctional officer.

Over 20% of teachers have second jobs.

10 alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States (6)


According to NEA Today, around 16% of teachers hold a second job over the summer, and 20% of them hold a second job year-round.

The report also found that the younger a teacher is, the more likely they are to hold a second job.

The publication also found that if you were to count second jobs within the school system, such as coaching, teaching evening classes, or directing shows, this statistic jumps from 20% to 59%.

Teachers pay an average of $480 out of pocket for school-related expenses.

10 alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States (7)

Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images

In 2018, the National Center of Education Statistics found that teachers were spending an average of nearly $480 a year out of their own pockets for supplies for their students and classrooms.

That's nearly double the $250 federal tax deduction available to teachers.

The organization also found that 94% of teachers in the US had spent their own money on school supplies.

Teachers often work more hours than the school day provides.

10 alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States (8)

John Moore/Getty Images

The average school day is only 6.7 hours long, but according to EdTech Magazine, the average teacher usually works 12 to 16 hours a day.

Between lesson plans, grading papers, staff meetings, and required duties like chaperoning, most teachers are at school long after the final bell rings.

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A 16-hour workday would correspond to an 80-hour workweek. For the salary of a teacher in some of the lower-paying states, that comes out to barely more than $9 an hour.

Teacher salaries have decreased by 4.5% over the last 10 years.

10 alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States (9)

ShutterstockMonkey Business Images

In April, the National Education Association found that the average teacher salary actually decreased, rather than increased, over the past decade by 4.5%, when adjusted for inflation.

Average starting salaries for teachers have also decreased in the past decade, dropping 2.9% when adjusting for inflation.

This means that teachers today have less money in a significantly more expensive world.

71% of Americans believe teachers deserve to be paid more.

10 alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States (10)

Seanna O'Sullivan/AP

According to a 2018 PDK Poll, 71% of Americans believe teachers deserve to be paid more. When only parents were polled, that number rose to 74%.

The poll also found that among teachers who "feel undervalued by their community," who think their pay is unfair, or who earn less than $45,000 annually, 62% have considered leaving the profession.

A majority of teachers — 55% — said they wouldn't want their child to follow them into the profession, citing inadequate pay and benefits as a chief reason.

The US has been experiencing a teacher shortage since the 2008 recession.

10 alarming facts about teacher pay in the United States (11)

Associated Press

Back in 2008 when the market crashed, schools across the country had to let teachers go, and, according to the National Education Association, they've been struggling to hire new, qualified teachers since the recession ended.

The shortage is especially severe in poorer school districts, where teachers are more likely to have "less experience, fewer credentials, and lack the educational background in the subject matter they are teaching," according to NEA Today.

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Why are teachers paid so little in the US? ›

Teachers get paid so little because education is underfunded in the United States. This equation has other factors, but this is the prime reason. The professional group of teachers has not experienced a salary increase in quite a long time.

Do teachers get paid too little in the US? ›

Because of an archaic and outdated federal regulation that excludes teachers from critical wage and hour protections, over a million classroom teachers are significantly underpaid.

Are teachers well paid in USA? ›

Average High School Teacher Pay vs.

High School Teachers earned an average salary of $69,530 in 2021. Comparable jobs earned the following average salary in 2021: Elementary School Teachers made $67,080, Middle School Teachers made $66,880, School Counselors made $63,090, and Sports Coaches made $50,550.

How underpaid are teachers in the US? ›

Teachers earn 23.5% less than comparable college graduates Public school teacher weekly wage penalty (or premium) for all teachers and by gender, 1979–2021.

What state has the most underpaid teachers? ›

The state with the lowest average teacher salary in the US is Mississippi, at around $48,000 a year.

What state pays teachers the most? ›

Highest pay for teachers by state
States 1-12Teacher SalaryStates 13-25
New York$87,738Illinois
District of Columbia$80,659Michigan
9 more rows
Jan 24, 2023

Why should we pay teachers more? ›

Higher Pay for Teachers Means Students Do Better

Students do better when teachers are compensated more. According to one study, a 10% increase in teacher salary would result in a 5–10% improvement in student performance. Students also gain long-term advantages from teacher compensation.

How much do teachers get paid a day USA? ›

As of Jan 27, 2023, the average hourly pay for a Teacher in the United States is $15.79 an hour. While ZipRecruiter is seeing hourly wages as high as $25.96 and as low as $7.45, the majority of Teacher wages currently range between $11.54 (25th percentile) to $17.79 (75th percentile) across the United States.

What is the average teacher pay in us? ›

Average public school teacher salary
Average public school teacher salary$65.09k$60.79k

What teachers get paid the most? ›

Salaries for educators vary widely. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for K-12 teachers is around $61,000 .
Highest-paying jobs in education
  1. School superintendent. ...
  2. K-12 principal. ...
  3. Dean of students. ...
  4. College professor. ...
  5. Instructional coordinator.
Feb 16, 2023

Do teachers get paid over summer USA? ›

No, technically, teachers do not get paid in the summer if they are not actively teaching. However, most teachers have the option to spread their pay for ten months of work over an entire 12 month period.

What are the benefits of teacher in USA? ›

  • A full-time teaching position.
  • J visa sponsorship for you and your family.
  • A competitive salary.
  • Holidays and school vacation periods.
  • Assistance acquiring a US teaching license.
  • Free international credential evaluation.
  • Airfare to the United States.
  • Subsidized health insurance.

Why so many teachers are quitting? ›

Many of the predominant challenges teachers face, including safety concerns, low salaries, funding deficits and declining mental health, are not new issues — but the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has intensified existing problems within the profession.

Why should teachers not be paid more? ›

Raising pay alone won't boost teacher quality.

Ballou and Michael Podgursky show that raising pay without reforms would draw more applicants and keep older teachers from retiring, potentially lowering the quality of the teacher workforce.

How can teachers solve low salary? ›

SOLUTION: Increase the salary of public school teachers through approving pending bills. This would mean paying tribute to their important contribution in educating the youth and to provide them with decent pay commensurate to the sacrifices they make in educating the country's youth -- the country's future citizens.

What state is number 1 in teacher pay? ›

Highest-Paid Teachers By State
3New York$89,000
46 more rows
Dec 4, 2022

What states are losing the most teachers? ›

According to U.S. Department of Education data from the 2022-2023 school year, Maine is experiencing the most teacher vacancies in special education, math, science, language arts, early childhood, elementary core subjects, art and music, and career and technical education.

What state has the happiest teachers? ›

Overall ranking of best and worst states for teachers in 2022
RankStateOverall score
1New York3.80
4New Jersey4.77
46 more rows
May 31, 2022

Which state treats their teachers the best? ›

Best states for teachers:
  • New York. Score: 59.33. Read more: 5 ways leaders can support Hispanic talent in the workplace.
  • Utah. Score: 57.38.
  • Virginia. Score: 56.13.
  • Florida. Score: 55.92.
  • Washington. Score: 55.71.
  • New Jersey. Score: 54.07.
  • Pennsylvania. Score: 53.80.
  • Massachusetts. Score: 53.21.
Oct 3, 2022

Where are teachers best paid? ›

Teachers in Luxembourg earn 30% more than any other teacher in the world, with a starting salary that exceeds nearly every other nation's maximum teacher salary. By sharp contrast at the bottom of this chart, teachers in Estonia reach their maximum earning potential at just over $17,000 a year.

Which US state has the best teachers? ›

New York

Why does everyone say teachers are underpaid? ›

A number of factors contribute to how far a teacher's salary goes—family structure, caregiving responsibilities, health issues, and student loans among them. While many teachers in the U.S. must work second jobs to live comfortably, plenty do not. Some of them live in states that pay better than others.

Is there a teacher shortage in the US? ›

More than three-quarters of U.S. states are experiencing a teacher shortage, highlighting a growing concern among public education and government officials about issues that were exacerbated during three years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why are teachers in high demand? ›

Population growth. The number of school-age students is expected to grow. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), total elementary and secondary enrollment is projected to increase 2% between fall 2016 and fall 2026, when enrollment is expected to reach 56.8 million.

How many hours does a teacher work per day in USA? ›

Hours of Instruction in the Classroom: 1,170

Every school is different, but for the most part, teachers are in the classroom for about six hours a day. Personally, I have a 25-minute lunch, but this is usually spent with students as they make up work or use my classroom as a quiet space.

How many hours a week do teachers work in us? ›

The 54-hour standard also may be used for teachers since accurate time records aren't kept. For other exempt employees the district may work with individual employees to determine the number of hours worked in the preceding 12-month period to establish eligibility and calculate intermittent leave allotment.

What is the highest paying job? ›

1. Anesthesiologists
  • Median annual salary: $208,000.
  • Industry: Health care.
  • Education needed: Doctorate degree.
Feb 1, 2023

What state has the lowest paid teachers? ›

Average teacher salaries in the U.S. range from $45,574 in Mississippi to $85,889 in New York. Additionally, these salaries can be as much as 28% lower than the average salary of a full-time, year-round employee. The highest pay in the nation for new teachers is in New York, where the average teacher salary is $85,889.

How much is a teacher paid in USA per month? ›

As of Mar 6, 2023, the average monthly pay for a Teacher in the United States is $2,743 a month.

How often do teachers get paid in the US? ›

Most teachers are paid bi-weekly and on a ten-month schedule during the school year.

Who is the richest teacher in the world? ›

Dan Jewett Just Became the World's Richest Teacher (and We're Only a Little Jealous)

What type of teacher is in highest demand? ›

Which teaching subject is most in demand? While specific needs vary by institution, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are subjects that are always in high demand.

How to make 6 figures as a teacher? ›

How to make more money as a teacher
  1. Find opportunities to earn supplemental money at your school. ...
  2. Do research on your location's pay rates. ...
  3. Earn an advanced degree. ...
  4. Take advantage of professional development opportunities. ...
  5. Transition to an administrative career. ...
  6. Offer tutoring options.
Jan 19, 2023

How much time do teachers get off? ›

How many days a year do teachers get off? On average, teachers get 10 sick days and three personal days a year, according to the NCTQ. These days typically roll over from year to year, so veteran teachers often accumulate large amounts of leave.

Does teachers pay go up each year? ›

The pay awards vary by profession. The new pay scales for teachers and school leaders for 2022-2023 have been confirmed by the Department for Education. Teachers across the country will benefit from pay increases of between 5% and 8.9% which will be backdated from 1st September 2022.

What is the minimum teacher salary in Texas? ›

2021-2022 Minimum Salary Schedule
Years of Experience CreditedMonthly SalaryAnnual Salary (10 month contract)
17 more rows

What are some disadvantages of being a teacher? ›

6 cons of being a teacher
  • Breaks without pay. Although some districts may follow a year-round schedule, most districts use a schedule that provides students and teachers with summers off for breaks. ...
  • Budgetary challenges. ...
  • Professional development days. ...
  • Varied learning styles. ...
  • Workload. ...
  • Student performance evaluation.

Do teachers get paid more outside the US? ›

On average, teachers in OECD countries earn 81-96% of the salaries of tertiary-educated workers.

Is teaching a good career in us? ›

Teaching is and will always be an in-demand profession because there is always a younger generation to educate and inspire. According to the National Education Association, the teaching profession is one of the most secure professions, with a job security rating of 4.4 out of 5.

What year do most teachers quit? ›

44% of teachers leave within the first five years in the profession. (That's well over a third of new teachers.) In general, newer teachers are 2 ½ times more likely to quit than those who are tenured. Regardless, an astounding 8% of teachers start over with a new career each year.

At what age do most teachers retire? ›

This means that someone who enters teaching before age 25 with a bachelor's and accumulates 30 or more years of service can usually retire sometime between age 55 and 60. In most states teachers are eligible for retirement without penalty once they turn 60 even with less than 30 years of service.

Why are teachers quitting 2023? ›

The priority now must be to keep teachers in the classroom, and that means addressing working conditions. Workload is consistently cited as one of the main reasons for teachers leaving early, but despite promises to address it there has been little progress on the issue.

Are teachers overworked and underpaid? ›

The pandemic and shifting political landscape have left teachers feeling overworked and undervalued. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, K-12 teachers report the highest burnout rate of all U.S. professions. More than four out of every 10 teachers said they feel burned out “always” or “very often” at work.

Why do teachers get apples? ›

In the United States, early American children gave teachers apples because the “families whose children attended schools were often responsible for housing and feeding frontier teachers,” according to a PBS special, titled “Frontier House, Frontier Life,” and noted in Smithsonian Magazine.

Why do teachers give so much homework? ›

They give out many assignments to make sure that kids are actually comprehending the material. Teachers want their students to be able to fully understand the topics they are learning.

How can a teacher boost their salary? ›

Get a Master's Degree

Getting a master's degree is probably the most sure-fire way to move up the teacher pay scale. Typically, school district pay scales are based on your degrees, additional credit hours and years of experience, meaning an advanced degree will usually correlate with a pay increase.

How do you survive a bad teaching job? ›

For those struggling with teacher burnout, here are some tips to make it through the end of the school year.
  1. Focus on your Health to Survive a Terrible Year Teaching. ...
  2. Limit Your Workload. ...
  3. Write It All Down. ...
  4. Keep Yourself Motivated to Survive Teaching. ...
  5. Develop an Exit Strategy.

What is the average teacher's salary in the US? ›

Average public school teacher salary
Average public school teacher salary$65.09k$64.13k

What kind of teacher makes the most money? ›

Salaries for educators vary widely. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for K-12 teachers is around $61,000 .
Highest-paying jobs in education
  1. School superintendent. ...
  2. K-12 principal. ...
  3. Dean of students. ...
  4. College professor. ...
  5. Instructional coordinator.
Feb 16, 2023

Why should teachers get paid more? ›

Higher Pay for Teachers Means Students Do Better

Students do better when teachers are compensated more. According to one study, a 10% increase in teacher salary would result in a 5–10% improvement in student performance. Students also gain long-term advantages from teacher compensation.

How to survive on teacher salary? ›

How to Survive on a Teacher's Salary
  1. Cut Back on Unnecessary Expenses. ...
  2. Cook at Home. ...
  3. Ask About Teacher Discounts. ...
  4. Buy a Good Car, and Keep It for Years. ...
  5. Consider Home Loans for Teachers. ...
  6. Work in a School District with Higher Pay. ...
  7. Start a Side Business. ...
  8. Participate in Your District's Cafeteria Plan.

Can a teacher become millionaire? ›

I know what you're thinking… How can someone become a millionaire on a teacher's salary? It sounds impossible, but high school teacher Andrew Hallam accomplished this milestone by age 40 on a regular teacher's salary!

Is it hard to make a living as a teacher? ›

And so you wonder, do teachers make enough money to live comfortably? Yes, in general, K-12 teachers in the U.S make enough money to live comfortably depending on how they are accustomed to living. Other factors include standard of living, geographic location, family status, and saving habits.

How much vacation do US teachers get? ›

Teachers generally don't get vacation days like other professional workers, since they don't have to work during school breaks, including summer.


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