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Money Lessons: Highest Teacher Salaries in the USA, Part 4 – High School

Updated on January 30, 2012
High school teachers can earn extra pay by coaching sports.
High school teachers can earn extra pay by coaching sports. | Source

This article continues a series that begins with Money Lessons: Highest Teacher Salaries in the USA, Part 1 – Kindergarten.

High school teachers handle students from the ninth through twelfth grade, and typically specialize in one subject that is taught to many classes. Aside from imparting academics, these teachers have an added responsibility for preparing students for life. For many teenagers, this is the last education they will receive before going out into the real world. High school teacher salaries vary by employer and job location. All information is from the US Department of Labor, and does not include vocational or special education teachers.

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin

Salaries and Employers

Typical teacher salaries in high school are as follows:

  • The 1.05 million high school teachers in the country earn a mean annual pay of $55,990, with median lows at $35,020 and median highs at $83,230.
  • Over 1.04 million work for elementary and secondary schools, where mean pay is at $56,050 per year. Employment services hire the next biggest numbers at 3,460, though their salaries are not specified. Local government is third with 1,520 professionals getting $47,980 per year.
  • Elementary and secondary schools offer the best salaries for high school teachers. They are followed by psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, where 100 teachers earn a mean $53,010 annually. Religious organizations are third, with 390 professionals getting $52,880 yearly.

Locations of the Best Teacher Salaries

High school teacher salaries change according to location as follows:

  • The greatest employment levels are in states with the biggest populations. Number one is California, where 115,780 high school teachers make a mean $64,860 per year. Next is Texas, with 108,570 workers making yearly pay of $53,160. Number three belongs to New York, with 71,490 positions getting $70,400 per year.
  • The top paying state is New York, followed by Alaska, where 2,650 workers make a mean $67,790 per year. Illinois ranks third with wages of $67,110 annually for 55,400 teachers.
  • The metropolitan area with the most high school teachers is Los Angeles, where 36,890 make mean salaries of $65,200 per year. It is followed by New York City, where 36,700 get $74,560 annually. Bringing up third is Chicago at $74,210 yearly for 34,680. Note how these are also the most populous cities in the country.
  • For metro area pay, Nassau and Suffolk Counties in New York rank first with a mean salary of $85,780 per year for 12,210 jobs. New York City is second, and Chicago is third.
  • Rural regions have fewer job opportunities but can offer higher pay to attract talent. For example, rural Kansas has the most employment with 5,080 jobs making a mean $39,660 yearly. The highest paying non-metro area is the North Valley Region of California with $74,040 per year for an unspecified number of workers.


The US Labor Department states that employment for high school teachers will increase by nine percent from 2008 to 2018. This is average and should produce similarly average increases in teacher salaries. Many teachers can supplement their annual pay by helming extracurricular activities such as sports or drama. They can also earn more by teaching during the summer, when teachers typically get the time off.


Here are the rest of the articles the teacher salaries series:

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


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    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks ktrapp. Do you have the website address? Feel free to post it in comments.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 6 years ago from Illinois

      I live in an Illinois suburb of Chicago, and while I am not a teacher, I know that high school teachers can be quite well-paid here. There is a website that tracks teacher salaries in IL and many teachers and administrators make six figures. The pay scale goes up if you hold a master's degree and for the amount of years worked. Additionally, as far as I can tell they have a good retirement package. I think (though I am not positive) an IL teacher's pension is 75% of the average of their last 3 years of salary (or something like that). Many people in private industry would kill for that!

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Interesting comparison for me here in the UK.

      It seems our salaries are roughly similar to LA.

      The highest teacher salaries are in special ed. It can be very exhausting and demanding work.

      I have been working recently with two American teachers, who are working here in the UK.

      I agree we are not paid commensurate wit our qualifications. I could make 5 times my salary in the stock market. But I just love teaching?

      Voted up useful interesting and sharing.

    • chspublish profile image

      chspublish 6 years ago from Ireland

      That's debatable as it depends on the school. Some schools do not enforce much discipline or they may attempt too much negative discipline.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I imagine teachers in Ireland also get better respect from students than they do in the U.S., chspublish.

    • chspublish profile image

      chspublish 6 years ago from Ireland

      Good hub with great information. Should have stuck to my teaching job - the salary in this country is good also with good pension plan.

      Thanks for the hub.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      That is terrible. It's bad enough that teachers don't get the money or the respect from students that they deserve, but that many of their salaries are cut because of mismanagement from upstairs. Thanks for stopping by.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Oh boy. I live in NC - the state that at 49th in the nation in teacher pay. Yep, I don't even cross the radar on the "lows" on here. Very sad. Hmmm...why might I be frantically writing on HubPages? lol Really, though, I'm sooo tired of being overworked and completely and grossly underpaid. With all the paycuts, not only haven't I seen a raise in 4 (!) years, but my pay has actually DECREASED! Oh, this is a hot button for me. After awhile, even the passion burns out and you don't want to do it anymore, for all the abuse you suffer. You did a great job compiling this, though. Voted up.

    • profile image

      Husky1970 6 years ago

      Good teachers are grossly underpaid. I have always been an advocate of some type of merit pay. However, the methods to determine who is worthy and the politics involved make the concept unrealistic. Great teachers have a passion for what they do and derive more than money from their efforts. Voted this informative hub up.