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Ranking Average Teacher Salaries by State

Updated on February 24, 2013

© 2013 by Aurelio Locsin.

All teachers from kindergarten to high school are charged with preparing their students to eventually take their places in society by either continuing to additional training or joining the workforce. These educational professionals impart lessons on academic subjects and life. Their average highest salaries vary by grade level and state.


As of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 8,409, 060 individuals worked in education, training and library occupations. Although most of the workers were kindergarten through high school teachers, this labor category also included college instructors, preschool teachers, librarians and curators, but did not include educational administrators.

  • About 5,568,640 worked in elementary and secondary schools, 1,143,270 were in colleges, universities and professional schools, and 462,990 were in junior colleges.
  • Mean annual wages for the category were $50,850, with a low under $20,780 per year, and a high above $85,510 annually.
  • The highest paying states for the category and their average wages were the District of Columbia, which the BLS classified with states, at $63,920, Rhode Island at $61,650, New York at $61,040, Alaska at $59,960 and Massachusetts at $59,410.


Kindergarten teachers instruct students who are around five or six years old.

  • The nation’s 146,910 kindergarten teachers earned a mean $52,350 per year, with a low under $32,100 yearly and an annual high above $76,900.
  • The states with the highest average annual salaries for the profession were Rhode Island at $71,820, New York at $70,930, Alaska at $68,290, Connecticut at $63,830 and California at $61,150.

Elementary School

In elementary schools, teachers manage students aged from about six or seven years old in first grade up to ten or 11 years old in fifth grade.

  • Average salaries for the 1,415,590 teachers at this level were a mean $55,270 per year, with lows under $34,910 yearly, and highs above $81,230 annually.
  • The highest average yearly wages were in Alaska at $72,090, Rhode Island at $71,840, New York at $69,380, Connecticut at $66,920 and California at $65,660.

Middle School

Students aged 11 or 12 years in sixth grade up to 13 or 14 years old in eight grade go to middle schools, where 642,820 received a mean $55,780, with lows below $35,760, and highs beyond $81,620. Their best mean annual wages were in New York at $73,920, Alaska at $69,680, Connecticut at $68,740, Rhode Island at $67,590 and Maryland at $67,380.

Secondary School

High school teachers instruct students starting in ninth grade at ages 14 or 15 up to 12th grade at ages 17 and 18. At these grade levels, teens may have their last opportunity for learning, although many continue on to college or vocational training.

  • Mean wages for the 1,004,850 professionals at this level were $56,760 yearly, with lows under $35,940 and highs above $84,000.
  • The best paying states and their mean salaries were New York at $71,820, Rhode Island at $70,430, Alaska at $69,730, New Jersey at $68,650 and Connecticut at $66,870.


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    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I'm afraid I don't know, tamarawilhite.

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 4 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Do private school teachers make less than public?

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      It looks like I may have to move to Rhode Island to take advantage of the higher pay scales. Thanks for sharing this information. As a teacher, I can appreciate your hard work and sharing.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      Some teacher's salaries are right where I thought they would be; others are higher than I expected. Teachers should be paid well as they have the country's future in their hands! Another interesting addition to the series. Thanks!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      It is surprising that in the education category there exists a group of labor getting under $ 20780 yearly. This is interesting. Makes me wonder if this is the teaching staff or not?

      Voted up and interesting.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      In some case, yes, Faith Reaper, high costs of living do raise salaries.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida


      I wish those that impact teacher salaries would look at the pay for the teachers in their state and make changes to enable changes to occur if their teachers are paid a pittance.

      I taught for 40 years and my pay dramatically improved...over the years. When I began teaching in 1972, I was paid 3650 dollars a year. O, my. Of course the cost of living was much lower then but...

      I held three degrees which raised my salary above many with whom I worked but getting the degrees was very costly.

      Teaching is not a is a calling, a mission, and it goes home with you at night and on weekends.

      I could go on and on and on...we ask for professional teachers to educate our children but no one wants to pay them commensurate with the job they do.

      Thank you for sharing this with us.

      Sending you Angels this morning :) ps

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Hey there!

      Yes, I used to work as a full-time teacher before I started freelancing writing, doing art and photography full time. AND I can tell you, it doesn't motivate you to be all you can be when the state you live in is ranked 49th in the nation for teacher pay. :\

      Washington DC has a higher salary, I think, because the superintendent took away the practice of tenure in exchange for doubling teacher salaries. That meant, though, that if a teacher wasn't performing well (or the students) that teacher would be let go. It was an interesting approach...awesome hub!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Great hub! I'm so pleased with how teacher salaries have gone up, although I was never able to partake. I taught at the high school level in the mid to late 90's before I went to graduate school. It was only a few years after I left that the starting salaries went up by about $18,000! That was nearly 40% higher of what I started at. I was impressed but couldn't get back into teaching at the time. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 4 years ago from Thailand

      I was quite impressed by the salaries over your way. That said, I guess it also depends on the cost of living in the area.

      Sharing, pinned, tweeted, up and interesting.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      It's interesting that California is up there in salary with the lower level grades, but not with the higher level grades.

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Oh the sadness of this topic! You have confirmed what I already knew, and that is that although I work in NY, I am seriously underpaid! We finally came to agreement on a contract that was being negotiated (fought over) for 5 long years. The outcome was not what we wanted, but better than what we had before. I guess I will thank my lucky stars that I am employed in this tough economic climate and that I have a nice roof over my head.

      @kidscraft: You said it! I work ALL the time, often even during vacations. Summers off are a luxury anymore, and I have only had one in the ten years I have been teaching.

      Great that you are getting the word out, alcosin. Voted up.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Very interesting as to the different states and salary ranges. I wonder if those particular states were higher due to the cost of living in those states is much higher than the rest of the US?

      Voted up ++ and sharing

      God bless, Faith Reaper

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Aurelio,

      Teaching is such an important job and good teachers are worth their weight in gold. This was interesting to learn how much the average teacher earns. Up, useful and interesting votes.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      As a former teacher, I can tell you that teachers deserve the money they get! I know that it seems like they have a lot of holidays but I remember that when I was a teacher, I had long evenings to prepare the next day and I was spending a lot of time working for school during the weekends as well! The main thing is to love what you do and try to make learning fun for the kids!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Eye-opening and interesting facts as usual. The states of Rhode Island, New York and Alaska seem very appealing. Teachers everywhere deserve lots of appreciation in addition to the dollars. Voted Up!