Teacher Salary and Benefits

Teacher Salary Qualified teachers who are certified will find a variety of salaries, benefits and opportunities available to them. Teacher salaries and benefits vary by location and school, but in general, many of the benefits are comparable.

Teacher Salary

These salaries are averages. It's important to take into consideration that starting teacher salaries will generally be lower:

Top Average Elementary Teacher Salary

  1. Alaska: $69,130
  2. New York: $67,940
  3. Rhode Island: $65,020
  4. California: $63,010
  5. New Jersey: $62,990
  6. Virginia: $60,390
  7. Maryland: $59,840
  8. Illinois: $59,460
  9. Washington: $57,760
  10. Michigan: $56,870

Top Average Secondary School Teacher Salary

  1. New York: $70,400
  2. Alaska: $67,790
  3. Illinois: $67,110
  4. New Jersey: $67,010
  5. Connecticut: $66,600
  6. California: $64,860
  7. Rhode Island: $64,550
  8. Maryland: $63,000
  9. Virginia: $60,450
  10. Washington: $59,470
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011, the median salary of K-12 teachers ranged from $47,100 to $51,180 in May 2008, with the top 10% earning $75,190 to $80,970. There are many factors that go into how much you’ll make as a teacher, with one of the most basic factors being the area in which you teach. As shown in NCES’ table of teacher salaries by locale, teachers in urban areas often make more than those in rural areas. Both of these areas are considered high needs schools, meaning they have a great demand for teachers. However, the cost of living in the cities is much higher, and to attract teachers, schools need to pay a salary that will compare with the cost of living. One of the most distinctive factors in determining your teacher salary is your level of education. A bachelor’s degree with a licensure in your state is enough to be a teacher, but it is also the most basic qualification and will earn you the most basic salary. Teachers looking to increase their salary may benefit from a Master’s degree. Teachers with Master’s degrees are eligible for more promotions, and many schools offer compensation for advanced degrees. Pay may also vary depending on the grade level you teach. High school teachers, who teach more complex subjects and are generally required to have majored or been certified in the subject they teach, are usually paid more than elementary school teachers, who are not required to have such specific certification. It’s important to note that the salaries for public school teachers are set by the state’s board of education. Private schools, on the other hand, are completely autonomous. They are able to set their own standards and requirements for teachers. Therefore, they are also able to set the salaries for their teachers, so before applying to work at a private school, you should check that institution’s policies.


Teaching comes with many of the additional benefits of most careers. Again, this can vary widely depending on where you work, but generally speaking, teachers are entitled to insurance for themselves and their families, including medical, dental and vision coverage. They are also entitled to sick days and paid leave. Teachers are also eligible for a wide variety of teaching grants. Most public school teachers are members of one of the two teacher unions, the National Education Association or the American Federation of Teachers. These unions work with school districts to negotiate salaries and secure benefits for teachers. And of course, there’s summer vacation. There are many ways that teachers make sure their time off is spent productively, including continuing education, teaching summer school, volunteer work and much more.