Teacher Salary and Benefits

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:

Interested in developing your skills as a teacher? Explore online education short courses designed to give you an in-depth understanding of various skills in teaching.

Top Average Elementary Teacher Salary

  1. New York: $80,540
  2. California: $77,990
  3. Connecticut: $77,900
  4. Alaska: $77,030
  5. District of Columbia: $76,950
  6. Massachusetts: $76,590
  7. New Jersey: $69,500
  8. Virginia: $68,490
  9. Rhode Island: $67,990
  10. Maryland: $67,340

Top Average Secondary School Teacher Salary

  1. New York: $80,940
  2. Alaska: $79,430
  3. Connecticut: $78,990
  4. District of Columbia: $74,540
  5. Massachusetts: $74,400
  6. California: $74,190
  7. Oregon: $73,630
  8. New Jersey: $71,450
  9. Virginia: $67,770
  10. Illinois: $66,630


The 8-week Teaching and Learning Strategies for Higher Education online short course is delivered by Harvard’s Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, in association with HarvardX. Students in this course will engage deeply with the most relevant research on effective teaching methods in the higher education context, while refining their own practices, portfolio, and teaching philosophy.

Sponsored Program


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean salary of K-12 teachers in May 2017 was $58,780, with the top 10% earning on average $91,590. There are many factors that go into how much you’ll make as a teacher, with one of the most basic factors being the geographical location 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, such as a Master's of Science in Teaching (sponsored). 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 school districts through collective bargaining between teachers' unions, setting a salary guide for the district. 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.