What Are Salary Ranges for Teachers?

If you have heard that teachers are underpaid for the work they do, you may be wondering exactly what the salary ranges really are for teachers. Well, it all depends on where they live, how much education they have, what type of school they teach at, and how long they have taught.

Location, Location, Location

Some states pay their teachers more than other states. The real catch is that usually the states that pay more also have a greater cost of living. So teachers who live in the South usually make less than teachers who live in the North. Also, teachers living in rural areas get paid less than those who teach in urban areas. The five states with the highest average annual teacher salaries in order include:

  1. Connecticut
  2. California
  3. New Jersey
  4. Illinois
  5. Rhode Island

The lowest paying state is South Dakota with an average annual teacher salary of just a little over $34,000.

Education Level

Most of the time, the more education you have, the more you get paid. Although substitute teachers and some teachers can get by temporarily with only some college education, the vast majority of full time teachers need a Bachelor's degree as well as a teacher certification in their area of expertise before they are hired.

For teachers who have gone on to receive their Master's degree, they can expect to make an additional $6,000 a year more than those who just have their Bachelor's degree. Also, earning an additional 30 education credits could warrant an additional $2,000 a year.

Type of School

Whether you teach in public or private school makes a difference in how much you get paid. U.S. public school teachers average a little over $50,000 a year. In general, private school teachers make about $10,000 less a year than teachers in public schools. Sometimes it also makes a difference whether you teach at the  elementary, middle, junior high, high school, or college/university level. Usually the higher level student you teach, the more money you can expect to make.


In general, the longer you teach, the more you get paid. First year public school teachers with only a Bachelor's degree can expect to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $35,000 a year while private school teachers start at about $29,000 annually. From there, salaries increase based on a set schedule set by the school district that is usually contingent upon acceptable reviews of your performance by your principal or other supervisor. As a result, it is very possible for an urban public school teacher with 25 years of experience, a Master's degree, and at least 30 education credits to receive a salary of $80,000 a year.

Job Outlook

Even though many industries are experiencing job cutbacks, the education field remains strong, with teachers earning an average increase in their salaries of between 4 and 5 percent. And the outlook for the future is positive, especially with the increasing population, and the vast number of teachers who are reaching retirement age. In fact, the prediction is that an estimated half a million positions will be available to teachers in the coming years.