Education Bug - a complete listing of educational resources

Follow EducationBug on Twitter

School Teacher Pay

A teacher's salary is dependent on many variables. This article looks at median K-12 school teacher pay, putting school teacher pay in context, and a review of high school teacher pay, as well as other factors that can effect teacher pay.

School teacher pay is the subject of much debate and much research. Issues that often come up in considering what teachers should be paid include the trust with which society invests teachers, the long unpaid hours, the dedication, and the long vacations. For more on the current status of school teacher pay, keep reading.

Median K-12 School Teacher Pay published results of a salary survey of K-12 teachers in fall of 2008. With over 34,000 respondents, they found that:

  • at each school level - elementary, middle, and high school - median pay for classroom teachers increased from the level before
  • at each school level - elementary, middle, and high school - median pay for special education teachers increased from the level before
  • at each school level - elementary, middle, and high school - median pay was greater for a special education teacher than for a general classroom teacher
  • overall, secondary teachers made nearly $2000 more per year in median pay than elementary teachers

Another finding was that median pay, as one might expect, increased with the number of years of experience. The median increased:

  • by nearly $2000 when teachers had 1-4 years of experience compared to less than a year
  • by nearly $5500 when teachers had 5-9 years of experience compared to 1-4
  • by nearly $7000 when teachers had 10-19 years of experience compared to 5-9
  • by nearly $8000 when teachers had 20 or more years of experience compared to 10-19

Putting School Teacher Pay in Context with Other Jobs

In the same survey, median K-12 school teacher pay was greater than the median pay for people who worked  for all other employers except state, local, and Federal government. Median pay for teachers was $40,753, while state and local government median was $41,496 and the Federal government median pay was the highest at $42,196. Just slightly below median school teacher pay was pay for people employed at hospitals, which came in at $40,118. The lowest median pay was for people on fellowships, who received median pay of $22,400.

Focus on High School Teacher Pay

In comparing median teacher pay in large cities (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia), PayScale research discovered that:

  • Houston and Philadelphia, while above the national median for teachers in the survey, were the lowest two, with median salaries between $42,000 and $42,500.
  • Chicago and Atlanta were next, with median teacher salaries between $44,500 and $46,000.
  • Boston and Los Angeles could be viewed as a third tier with median salaries for high school teachers between $48,100 and $48,200.
  • New York was top with a median high school teacher pay rate of $49,365.

Additional observations when comparing median high school teacher pay in these cities to median salary for all jobs reported to PayScale (Dallas replaces Philadelphia in these data) include the following:

  • Atlanta is the lowest of the seven cities for median pay of all jobs, with $58,407.
  • The difference between high school teacher’s median pay and the median for all jobs in Atlanta is $13,855.
  • Chicago, Houston, and Dallas are in the next tier of median pay for all jobs, with figures between $59,350 and $59,850.
  • Of those three cities, Houston shows the greatest difference in median pay between high school teachers and all jobs, with a figure of $17,488.
  • Los Angeles and New York are the next tier, with median salaries for all jobs of $64,200 to $64,410.
  • Boston has the highest median salary for all jobs: $65,552, compared to $48,102 for the median for a high school teacher, giving it a difference of $17,450, which is still less than the difference in Houston.

Naturally, the difference in the businesses located in a particular region and city will affect the median income for all jobs. But you can use this information to get a general overview of average school teacher pay in the United States.