More Apples Needed in Alabama: Teacher Pay By State


low pay for teachersNow that sales of pencils and notebooks are in full swing, kids everywhere are facing the inevitability of going back to school. Their teachers have already been prepping for the new academic year. Though envied for their months long "break" from work, the teaching profession involves some trade-offs. One of the biggest: low pay.

According to data from online salary database, median annual wages for K-12 teachers range between $40,000 and $43,000 while the National Education Association, the largest teacher's union, estimates starting salaries for teachers averaging $35,139 with a bachelor's degree.

That's not very much when you consider that public four-year colleges charge, on average, $7,605 per year in tuition and fees for in-state students and nearly $12,000 for those out-of-state, according to the College Board. Plus, teachers often choose to pay out-of-pocket for certain supplies or continuing education. One middle school educator in Greenville, SC says she's spent her summer vacation taking classes at a local university, on her own dime, and getting ready to teach her new English class.

This lack of funding is in stark contrast to the potential influence a good teacher has on their students' future earnings potential. Eric A. Hanushek of Stanford University found that an excellent teacher (better than 84 percent of teachers) raises each student's lifetime earnings by $20,000.

Who Earns Most and Least?

Although few teaching gigs are high paid, high school teachers earn more money than those who teach kindergarten through eighth grade. Pay also varies widely by city and state. Teachers in major metropolitan areas such as New York, Houston, Los Angeles and Chicago can earn upwards of $45,000 per year but that number drops more than $15,000 for elementary school teachers in Alabama, for example. Meanwhile, their North Dakota counterparts earn just $28, 400 per year.

Teacher Pay by State

Curious where your state stands on teacher pay? Keep in mind that cost of living plays a role. Bismark, North Dakota versus New York City? There's a big difference in what a two-bedroom home costs.

Here are the ten states that pay teachers the least amount of money per year, according to


Elementary School
Annual Pay

Secondary School
Annual Pay

South Dakota



North Dakota



West Virginia









North Carolina















For comparison, here are the ten states that pay teachers the most according to


Elementary School
Annual Pay

Secondary School
Annual Pay




New York



New Jersey



District of Colombia









Rhode Island












Source: All salary data is provided by Salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time employees with 5-8 years of experience. Salaries listed include all bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.

Next: Glassdoor Reveals the Best Universities to Work For

Don't Miss: Top 10 Companies Hiring Now

Stories from Daily Finance

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

Search Articles

Picks From the Web