Here’s What School Teachers Earn In Every State
Behind every great school system is a staff of even better teachers. And the best way to keep (and attract) top talent? Better pay. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, we've ranked every state by their average teacher's salary from highest to lowest.
1. New York: $79,637
While New York teachers may be the highest paid in the country, they still fall short of other professions in their own state, where according to a study by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, teachers make about 1 percent less than the average college-educated worker. Which makes sense considering New York City is notoriously expensive to live in, however, this city beat out the Big Apple as the least affordable city in North America.
2. California: $78,711
At nearly $80,000, teachers in the Golden State are taking home a hefty chunk of change each year—but they’ll need much more than that to be able to afford living in the costly coastal state, particularly when it comes to housing. The average price tag on a new home in California is a whopping $600,860, more than double the national average of $280,000. Here’s how much the average home cost in each of the 50 states.
3. Massachusetts: $77,804
Home to the number one school system in the country, Massachusetts needs equally top-notch teachers to staff them—and having the third-highest average salary of nearly $78,000 is a pretty good way to attract quality educators. While Massachusetts leads the United States in schooling, here’s what each of the 50 states is best (and worst) at.
4. Connecticut: $72,561
Connecticut has one of the highest teacher pensions in the nation but it comes with a catch—teachers have to work for at least 10 years before they begin receiving benefits, something that only 55 percent actually do. And beyond that, a mere 34 percent will continue working until they reach retirement age (or after 20 years), at which point they can take advantage of that juicy retirement fund.
5. New Jersey: $69,623
Anyone who lives in the Garden State understands the struggle of paying property taxes; the state has the highest rate in the country, at 2.28 percent compared to the national average of 1.19 percent. And while it’s painful to pay such a large fee each year, it also means that the state has more money to put towards education spending—including teachers’ salaries.
PowerUp/Shutterstock6. Alaska: $68,138
What is the majority of an Alaska teacher’s salary, which is about $10,000 higher than the national average, going toward? Most likely healthcare—the northernmost state has the highest health insurance premiums in the country.
7. Maryland: $66,961
Maryland teachers receive the seventh-highest salary but in the country’s richest state, it’s still below the median income in 2017, which is $80,776. That being said, however, Maryland teachers are still doing better than the national average income that same year, which is $61,372. Psst: Here are the small towns across the country with the most millionaires.
8. Rhode Island: $66,477
It’s a good thing that Rhode Island falls near the top of the list in terms of annual salary—because it’s one of 15 states that doesn’t provide Social Security benefits to its teachers. That means that educators have to set aside more of their paycheck for retirement and lack the income protection that Social Security can provide.
9. Pennsylvania: $62,200
Pennsylvania may come in at number nine but if you zero in on one very affluent district in the state, it would far surpass even number one New York’s average salary: Teachers in Council Rock School District in Bucks County reportedly made nearly six figures during the 2018-2018 school year with an average of $99,707.
10. Michigan: $62,200
The Great Lake State may not pay its teachers the highest salary in the country but, according to Wallethub, when you adjust the take-home pay for the cost of living in each state, Michigan comes out on top. And if you want to live somewhere that you get more bang for your buck, these are the 10 cities with the lowest cost of living.
polymanu/Shutterstock11. Oregon: $61,631
Teachers in this West Coast state have their union (the Oregon Education Association) to thank for their higher-than-the-national-average salary. Based on factors like resources, involvement in politics and perceived influence, Fordham Institute dubbed Oregon the state with the second-strongest teacher union membership in the United States behind Hawaii.
12. Illinois: $61,602
Salary isn’t an issue for the average Illinois teacher but the state is facing a serious shortage of educators (like many other states). A possible solution? The Illinois Board of Education is discussing eliminating some of the skills tests that new grads have to take in hopes of making it easier and more attractive for new teachers to get hired.
13. Delaware: $60,214
Sure, Delaware teachers may make just slightly above the national average but that’s small potatoes compared to teachers in other countries. The 2018 Global Teacher Status Index revealed that out of 35 developed countries around the world, the United States came in 16th place, behind China, Canada, and Russia. And if you look at salary alone, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranked the United States at 27 out of 32 countries.
14. Vermont: $60,187
If there’s one state that’s putting its money where its mouth (or rather, its education) is, it’s Vermont. The state spends the largest percentage of its resources on teachers, schools, and students compared to any other state. Fun fact: Vermont also has the lowest pupil-to-teacher ratio with an average of fewer than 12 students per class.
15. Wyoming: $58,650
Despite the fact that per capita income in Wyoming fell about 2 percent in recent years, the second biggest decrease in the country, the state still pays its teachers just slightly above the national average, which is $58,563. Want to know how much people are making where you live? This map shows the average salary in each state.
16. Hawaii: $57,674
Hawaii may have some of the best beaches in America but those stunning views come at a price, making the island the state where people are most likely to live paycheck to paycheck, according to GOBankingRates. In fact, the site calculated that Hawaii is the only one of the 50 states where, after deducting cost of living expenses from the median income, people are actually left with a deficit.
17. Nevada: $57,376
Nevada teachers are paid about $1,000 less than the national average but fortunately, that won’t stop them from being able to buy a home, thanks to the western state’s lower housing prices and cost of living. A study found that the salary needed to comfortably afford a house in Nevada is $55,680, which even leaves a little extra money left over for the average teacher.
18. Minnesota: $57,346
Salaries—and more importantly, benefits—can vary not just between states but also between school districts within each individual state. For example, the Fordham Institute recently reported that teachers who work in Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District will never see a return on their retirement plan contributions, meaning that no matter how long they work in the system, their benefits will never be worth more than they put in.
19. New Hampshire: $57,253
New Hampshire schools may have a bigger issue to face than the fact that they pay their teachers below the national average. Across the state—in all but 31 of the 161 school districts, to be exact—public school enrollment has been steadily declining since 2006 as less young families move to New Hampshire and more leave for better job opportunities.
20. Ohio: $57,000
While Ohio’s average salary is somewhat low, its rate of absent teachers is very high. In fact, based on a study by the National Council on Teacher Quality that analyzed 40 of the largest school districts across the country, both Cleveland and Columbus were the districts with the highest percentage of teachers missing class. In Cleveland, for instance, 34 percent of teachers were “chronically absent,” meaning they missed 18 or more days of school.
21. Iowa: $55,443
Iowa isn’t the best state for teachers looking for a big payday but it’s also not the worst. And that middle ground is clearly paying off—Iowa has the highest graduation rate in the country, with some 91 percent of its students graduating from high school within four years. These are the 14 life skills every new grad needs to be successful.
22. Wisconsin: $54,998
One thing that teachers in the Badger State can brag about? They live in one of the states with the lowest unemployment rates as of February 2019. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin, with an unemployment rate of 2.9 percent, was one of just a handful of states whose rates were under 3 percent, well below the national average of 3.8 percent.
23. Georgia: $54,602
Being a teacher is hard but being a teacher and a mom is even harder. Especially if you live in Georgia, which was one of 12 states to receive an “F” for its lack of paid leave or working mothers’ rights policies on The National Partnership for Women and Families‘ annual report card. This is how many hours a working mom clocks each week (it’s shocking!).
24. Washington: $54,147
Seattle may be one of the nicest places to live (and one of the 15 cities with the coolest street art!) but it also comes with a pretty sizeable price tag, one that, unfortunately, the average teacher can’t afford. According to a GOBankingRates study, to live comfortably in Seattle, you’d need $89,248, about $35,000 more than the average teacher salary.
25. Texas: $52,575
One major perk of being a teacher (or any employee, really) in Texas? The Lonestar State is one of only seven states that has zero income tax, leading to a bigger paycheck each month. And no matter where you live, to save even more money on your taxes, avoid these 14 tax mistakes that could cost you hundreds.
26. Kentucky: $52,339
Apparently, money isn’t the only thing that matters in Kentucky. Because while the Southern state doesn’t offer its educators the highest salary, it does have the lowest projected turnover of teachers. That may be due to its substantial pension plan or affordable health insurance—or because of these 8 things that lead to happiness at work.
27. Nebraska: $52,338
Education is one of Nebraska’s top priorities if the statistics are anything to go by. One survey revealed that the average Nebraskan family spends about 30 percent of their household income on their child’s education.
28. North Dakota: $51,618
Besides Alaska, North Dakota is the only state that spends as much on education as it did prior to the 2008 recession. That bodes well for its teachers when it comes to job security and income protection, both factors that affect stress levels. Speaking of which, these are the most (and least) stressed cities in the United States.
29. Montana: $51,422
Don’t worry teachers: Montana is a place where you get more bang for your buck. That’s because it’s one of only five states that have no sales tax, which means you’ll save between 2.9 and 7.25 percent (the national average) every time you spend your hard-earned dollars.
30. Maine: $51,077
In Maine, teachers are likely able to save a little more of their salary when it comes to paying everyday expenses. That’s because the Pine Tree State has the lowest average utility bill in New England at $83.91 per month (which is also one of the lowest in the United States) along with cheaper groceries. Shopping on a budget? Avoid these 15 common mistakes that end up costing you big time.
31. Virginia: $51,049
Being so close to the nation’s capital isn’t doing Virginia any favors when it comes to housing prices or cost of living. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the cheapest metro area in the state is Richmond—and even there, you would need about $83,000 to live off of, almost $30,000 more than the average teacher makes.
32. Indiana: $50,554
With an average salary of just over $50,000, Indiana teachers may never be millionaires—but fortunately, they don’t need to be, thanks to the state’s low cost of living. Its index falls 32 points below the national average at an affordable 68. Here are the other 10 best places you can comfortably live on as little as $40,000 a year.
33. Louisiana: $50,000
While Louisiana teachers don’t earn very high wages, they do have the luxury of living in a state with the third-lowest real estate property tax at just 0.52 percent. Based on WalletHub’s calculations, that means that taxes for a $194,000 home in Louisiana are just $1,006 compared to $4,725 in New Jersey (the state with the highest property tax).
34. North Carolina: $49,837
Falling just shy of $50,000 per year, teacher salaries in North Carolina have actually dropped about 12 percent since 2000. Many blame that on decreased school funding and statewide tax cuts. Speaking of which, these are the best (and worst) states for taxes in the United States.
35. Florida: $49,407
From sunshine to beautiful beaches, there’s a lot of great qualities about Florida—but its healthcare isn’t one of them. In the Southern state, employers are only required to cover 65 percent of their employees’ health insurance costs, the lowest in the entire country. If you want to save thousands on your own healthcare (and who doesn’t!), try these 13 tricks.
36. Alabama: $48,868
Yikes. Alabama’s below-average salary for teachers may be contributing to the statewide shortage that it’s currently facing. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, the number of new teachers graduating in Alabama fell nearly 40 percent between 2010 and 2016. But it’s not all bad news: Here are the 15 best things about being a teacher, from real-life educators.
37. Arkansas: $48,616
Arkansas’ annual wages of $48,616 may seem minimal when compared to some of the higher-ranking states, but when you compare it to the state’s average salary for all workers, it starts looking a lot better. That’s because teachers earn nearly $10,000 more than the average person in Arkansas who makes just $39,000 per year.
38. South Carolina: $48,598
There’s a lot of room for improvement for South Carolina’s school systems…and not just when it comes to teacher salaries. U.S. News and World Report also ranked the Palmetto State as the worst in the country for education due to its low reading and math scores, graduation rates, and enrollment numbers.
39. Tennessee: $48,456
Tennessee teachers can expect big changes moving forward, which should include a significant spike in their take-home pay. Over the last several years, the state has invested over $300 million specifically in teacher salaries and is increasing funding for education as a whole.
40. Missouri: $48,293
Here’s a sobering statistic to put things into perspective: the average teacher in Missouri makes less than a recent college graduate. PayScale reported that the average new grad with zero to five years of experience makes $48,400 compared to a teacher’s $48,293.
41. Kansas: $47,984
Kansas teachers, along with educators all across the country, are likely worth more than their salary reflects, says a survey by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Researchers found that some 30 percent of teachers take work home with them every day, compared to 20 percent of the average workers, which makes their “eight-hour work day” closer to 11 hours.
42. Idaho: $47,504
As of now, almost a fifth of Idaho teachers makes less than $40,000 per year. But that’s going to change by 2021 when the state will raise the minimum salary from $35,800 to $40,000. The goal? To not only keep current teachers happy but also to attract new teachers and avoid losing quality educators to neighboring states, a current struggle for the Gem State.
43. New Mexico: $47,500
Good news for New Mexico teachers: A proposal is moving forward in the state legislature that would incrementally increase teachers’ minimum salaries over the next few years. For example, if approved, an entry-level teacher would make $45,000 by 2022 compared to just $36,000 currently. Wondering how to boost your pay in the meantime? Here’s how to ask for a raise the right way.
44. Arizona: $47,403
Arizona may fall towards the bottom of the list in terms of salary but it won’t for much longer if the local government has anything to do with it. Last April, after strikes and walkouts by teachers, the state legislature with the support of Governor Doug Ducey passed a budget bill that promises to increase Arizona teachers’ salaries by at least 20 percent by 2020.
45. Utah: $47,244
Utah doesn’t just spend less on its teachers, it also spends less on its students. The state ranked dead last when it comes to both total education expenditure by the local government ($4.1 billion) and per-pupil spending ($6,953). Wondering what your tax money is being spent on then? Here’s the breakdown.
46. Colorado: $46,506
There have recently been a lot of teacher strikes and protests in Colorado—and for good reason. According to the Education Law Center, a 25-year-old new teacher in Colorado makes on average just 69 percent of what her similarly-educated peers in other states make, proving just how underpaid the western state’s teachers are.
47. West Virginia: $45,701
Income in West Virginia is the second-lowest in the United States (behind Mississippi), making the wild and wonderful state one of the poorest in the country. And while the poverty rate at 18 percent is significantly higher than the national average of 14.2 percent, teachers in West Virginia do have one upside: the cost of living is very low so spending power is high.
48. Oklahoma: $45,245
Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s very low teacher salary is reflected in the quality of its school systems. The Midwestern state, which spends less on its students than the majority of states, has some of the worst test scores in the country. Need proof? Just 2.7 percent of eighth graders received advanced scores on their standardized tests.
49. Mississippi: $42,925
While Mississippi comes in second-to-last in terms of teacher salaries, it’s also one of the states where that money will stretch the furthest. That’s because things are about 86.4 percent cheaper in the Southern state than the national average, earning it a spot on this list of the 15 cheapest states to live in.
50. South Dakota: $42,668
South Dakota has some catching up to do when it comes to its education budget. It not only pays its teachers the lowest average salary but it also spends the least on its schools out of all of the states. In 2016, for instance, South Dakota allocated $1.25 million to education compared to number one California’s $72 million. Whether your child’s teacher makes a little or a lot, these 22 gifts will make them feel appreciated.