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Money Lessons: Highest Teacher Salaries in the USA, Part 1 - Kindergarten

Updated on January 20, 2012

Teachers are charged with instructing students before the post-secondary level. They must complete a minimum bachelor’s degree and an accredited teacher education program. Those working in the public schools also need a state license, which is optional in many private schools. High demand subjects for the profession include science, math and bilingual education.

Kindergarten teachers instruct those who are under six years old. They include such topics as music, art, reading, science and personal hygiene. They also encourage social, physical and mental development. Pay varies by employer and location. All information is from the US Department of Labor, but does not include special education or vocational teachers unless specified.

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin

Salaries and Employers

The nation’s 173,330 kindergarten teachers make the following annual salaries:

  • Mean teacher salaries run $51,550 per year, with a median low of $31,720 per year and a median high of $76,490 per year.
  • Their biggest employers are elementary and secondary schools, where 162,990 positions earn a mean $52,660 per year. Child day care services follow with 8,710 jobs making $31,980 annually, and religious organizations are third with 530 teachers earning $44,800 yearly.
  • The highest paying jobs are with instructional services other than academic schools. They pay $63,900 per year but only contain 190 jobs. Elementary and secondary schools rank second for pay, followed by civic and social organizations who offer $48,990 for 140 professionals.

Locations of the Best Teacher Salaries

Teacher salaries differ according to where a job is located.

  • States with the highest populations hire the most teachers. California ranks first with 26,470 teachers earning mean wages of $58,970 per year. Next is Texas with 14,210 positions earning $48,430 yearly. New York is third with 10,970 jobs getting $70,180 annually.
  • New York has the highest wages for kindergarten teachers, followed by Rhode Island, where 810 professionals make a mean $67,460 per year. Alaska is next with 220 positions getting $65,930 annually.
  • For cities, the most jobs are generally in areas with high populations. The nation’s biggest city, New York, has 6,720 professionals making mean teacher salaries of $73,370 annually. The third most populated city, Los Angeles, follows with 6,520 positions receiving a mean $57,930 per year. And the fourth most populated, Houston, has 3,760 teachers earning $50,190 yearly.
  • Rural areas hire the fewest teachers, with the Kansas nonmetropolitan area showing the highest employment. Here, 610 kindergarten teachers make $40,510, lower than the national average.
  • The best paying rural area is the Eastern Sierra Region of California, where 40 positions receive a mean of $63,360 per year.


The US Labor Department sees jobs for kindergarten teachers increasing by 15 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is about average. This is due to a growing population and should produce correspondingly average growth in teacher salaries. Most of the growth will be in the South and West, while jobs in the Northeast are expected to decrease. Jobs are easier to obtain in rural areas or in inner-city schools, rather than in suburbia.

If you’re a teacher, feel free to add more information about teacher salaries in the Comments box below.


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      Erik 5 years ago

      I wish I could get a teaching job.