Teacher standing in front of a blackboard that says - "Math question: If my net pay after deductions is $558 a paycheck, where in this major city can I afford to live? Zero. Zero places."

By Jane Morris

It’s hard to get an accurate number of the average teacher salary by state in America. Data for each state is published by many different agencies and organizations every year, and none of it is exactly the same. In the same year, you may see one source claim that South Dakota has the lowest teacher pay, yet another story may say Arizona is the worst.

School Teacher Salary

To get an accurate picture of an average and realistic school teacher salary, I asked my teacher followers for the number of years they have been teaching, their yearly teacher salary, and what state they live in. Then I took information for each state that seemed to match with what most others in that state were making, given the amount of experience.

Yes, in some places the cost of living is much higher, and that is why those teachers make more and vice versa. But I think we can all agree that no matter where you live, $35,000 is not enough money to live comfortably, especially for someone with an advanced degree. And for those that live in the costliest places, such as D.C., New York City, or San Diego, even $60,000 is definitely not enough to comfortably support a family.

Keep in mind that all of these teachers have at least one master’s degree. Also remember that the average student loan payment for these teachers is 50K, though for some it is much higher.

Woman pointed to a stack of dollar bills.

Teacher Salary By State

Here’s a list of different teacher salaries by state, including years of experience and additional notes.

  • Alabama- 15 yrs. experience, 49K
  • Alaska- 5 yrs. experience, 40K
  • Arizona- 18 yrs. experience, 35K
  • Arkansas- 9 yrs. experience, 35K
  • California- 8 yrs. experience, 50K
  • Colorado- 9 yrs. experience, holds a Ph.D., 64K
  • Connecticut- 9 yrs. experience, 61K
  • D.C.- 10 yrs. experience, 60K
  • Delaware- 15 yrs. experience, 48K
  • Florida- 10 yrs. experience, 47K
  • Georgia- 13 yrs. experience, 41K
  • 32 yrs. experience, 69K
  • Hawaii- 12 yrs. experience, 52K
  • Idaho- 17 yrs. experience, 54K
  • Illinois (Chicago)- 8 yrs. experience, 37K (9.4% goes to retirement)
  • Indiana- 10 yrs. experience, 42K
  • Iowa- 11 yrs. experience, 60K
  • Kansas- 8 yrs. experience, 36K
  • Kentucky- 5 yrs. experience, 42K
  • Louisiana- 4 yrs. experience, 40K
  • Maine- 11 yrs. experience, 51K
  • Maryland- 9 yrs. experience, 54K
  • Massachusetts- 3 yrs. experience, 52K
  • Michigan- 4 yrs. experience, 36K
  • Minnesota- 5 yrs. experience, 55K
  • Mississippi- 11 yrs. experience, 43K
  • Missouri- 19 yrs. experience, 30K
  • Montana- 12 yrs. experience, 51
  • Nebraska- 13 yrs. experience, 52K
  • Nevada- 6 yrs. experience, 36K
  • New Hampshire- 4 yrs. experience, 46K
  • New Jersey- 10 yrs. experience, 63K
  • New Mexico- 10 yrs. experience, 28K
  • New York- 7 yrs. experience in NYC, 2 master’s degrees, 62K


Teacher in front of a class saying, 'That's nice that your dad just bought a new boat, Becky. I can't afford to move out of my parent's house.
For comparison, the average salary for a sanitation worker in N.Y. is $69,339 with 6 years’ experience, not including holiday and overtime pay. With the extras thrown in, veteran sanitation workers average more than $80,000 a year and enjoy full pension and health benefits. One only needs a high school diploma to qualify, which means they have no student loan debt.

I know some people might say that sanitation work is difficult physical labor that most people would not want to do, but I am not joking when I say that handling garbage just might be preferable to being treated like garbage on a daily basis.

For example, today I asked a student to put her phone away, and she told me to “f*** off.” When I called her mom, she defended her daughter with, “Well she don’t like you.” When I wrote her up for this, the assistant principal responded that they are having a parent conference later that month. (There will be no consequence.) This is a normal occurrence for me. So yes, it might be nicer to handle people’s trash for a higher salary, than to be treated like trash.

  • North Carolina- 5 yrs. experience, 47K
  • North Dakota- 12 yrs. experience, 46K
  • Ohio- 4 yrs. experience, 40K
  • Oklahoma- 19 yrs. experience, 43K
  • Oregon- 5 yrs. experience, 43K
  • Pennsylvania- 14 yrs. experience, 57K
  • Rhode Island- 8 yrs. experience, 66K
  • South Carolina- 3 yrs. experience, after taxes 23K
  • South Dakota- 4 yrs. experience, 39K
  • Tennessee- 15 yrs. experience, 45K
  • Texas- yrs. experience, 45K
  • Utah- 9 yrs. experience, 45k
  • Vermont- 8 yrs. experience, 51k
  • Virginia- holds 2 master’s degrees, 16 yrs. experience, 69K (This teacher shared that in this very expensive part of Virginia, childcare costs $2600 a month)
  • Washington- 17 yrs. experience, holds Ph.D., 68K
  • West Virginia- 11 yrs. experience, 42K
  • Wisconsin- 9 yrs. experience, 50k
  • Wyoming- 11 yrs. experience, 45k

Teacher Salary Comparisons

Now compare these teacher salaries with the following: Postal workers, rail track laying equipment operators, bricklaying masons, earth drillers, costume attendants in theaters, crane operators, and steel workers have an average salary across the U.S. of $51K. They only need a high school education.

Other jobs that on average pay better than teaching (and require only a high school diploma) include:

  • Drivers’ licensing examiners- 69K
  • Casino managers- 78K
  • Customs inspectors- 80K
  • Elevator repair workers- 80K

When you explain these points to people, many of them will say that teachers have always been paid poorly and people shouldn’t become teachers if they do not accept that.

I have to call major B.S. on that one.

If people avoided the career of teaching because of the pay, we would have very few teachers left. Just because that’s the way it is, does not make it acceptable. We’re not asking to be rich; we just want to comfortably support ourselves and our families without getting a second or third job. We’re educators, not nuns. We shouldn’t have to take a vow of poverty because we want to teach.

Woman pointing to a sign that says, "Help! I'm poor!"

Compensating for Low Teacher Salary

I asked my teacher followers what other jobs they take on during the summer and also throughout the school year. In the summer many teachers can be found working at a summer camp. This might not sound so bad if you’ve ever been a camper, but I did this for many years, and trust me, you are worked to the bone for an obscenely low amount of money. A summer camp counselor’s hourly salary ranges from $6 to $12 nationally, and that’s before taxes. If they teach lessons, such as swimming or art, the pay isn’t usually much more than what a counselor makes.

Of course, many teachers also teach summer school. In my district (and many others I’m sure) it used to be that they couldn’t find teachers who were willing to teach summer school. I’m sure you can imagine why. Now teachers are in such a desperate financial situation that there is a huge waiting list to teach summer school. They choose candidates by seniority, and many teachers do not get a placement and are told to try again the following year.

Imagine being turned away from spending an additional 4-6 hours a day on top of the school year, with kids who couldn’t pass the class 45 minutes at a time, in the summer heat, because of stiff competition? Many also tutor privately, but it’s hard to get a lot of those gigs lined up at a time.

Average Teacher Salary

Do you find that these salaries match up to what you’re making in your state? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. You can also send me a message through my Contact Page or chat more about salaries on our Forum page.

If you’d like to join the discussion with over a half million other teachers on social media, follow Teacher Misery on Facebook or Instagram!

Jane Morris, Author

Bio picture for the author and founder of Teacher Misery, Jane Morris.Jane Morris is the pen name of a teacher who would really like to tell you more about herself but is afraid she’ll lose her job. Jane has taught English for over 15 years in a major American city. She received her B.A. in English and Secondary Education from a well-known university and her M.A. in writing from an even fancier (more expensive) university. As a professional queen of commiseration turned published author, Jane’s foremost passion in life is to make people laugh.

She has written several highly acclaimed books unpacking the reality of teaching and life inside the school system. You can view her full library of works here.

Attention! Some of the links present in this article may be affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through the link, we might generate a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Additionally, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through the links. All of this revenue goes back into Teacher Misery and the mission of improving it and the lives of teachers everywhere. As always, thank you for all your support! :)))


  1. Keely McGee August 19, 2022 at 9:41 pm

    Salaries in CA vary widely. I work in the Central Valley, units maxed out with an MA and make $65,000. I would start at $95,000 or above in most Bay Area districts, and still couldn’t afford the crazy cost of living. We need a nationwide strike until we are paid according to our educational achievements!

  2. Frances August 19, 2022 at 10:42 pm

    Yes, New Jersey, 10 years experience and a masters degree. Spot on at 63k.

  3. Brandy August 20, 2022 at 9:30 am

    This is low and does not match the other statistics for this. Review this article too. https://rossier.usc.edu/news-insights/news/eight-factors-affect-your-california-teacher-salary
    Don’t make teachers feel stupid and lower their worth saying how little they make

  4. Stephanie S August 20, 2022 at 9:36 am

    Florida did make the minimum salary for teachers $47,500 recently BUT didn’t do anything to compensate the veteran teachers so now after teaching for 10 yrs I’m making about the same amount as a first year teacher…

  5. Mary Kate Kiniry August 20, 2022 at 11:46 am

    I’m in CT with a Master’s degree and 16 years of experience and make about 74k. I am not on to step because I’ve been through a pay and step freeze for three years. So I get paid as though I only have 13 years of experience.

  6. KC August 20, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    Perhaps it’s true in other states, but teacher salaries here in California are very widespread based on the area of CA. I live in Silicon Valley, and my district’s salary for a teacher with 8yrs experience is just over $100K. The annual stipend for a Master’s is an additional $2,500. That’s double your article’s stat.
    I’ve been teaching for 27 years and make $145K. As others have stated, that may sound astronomical, but I pay $12K/yr in property taxes, $6/gallon in gas, and my modest 1600 sq ft home could sell for $2M. It’s all relative.

  7. Erin February 8, 2023 at 9:38 pm

    I’m a high school teacher in a suburb of Chicago, IL in a k-12 district. I have 9 years of experience and a masters degree. I only make $54k. Now that I’ve “suffered” this long in this district I’m stuck because most other district won’t give me my years of experience as a lowly social studies teacher and would have to take a pay cut to start back at step 1 in another district.

  8. DH February 8, 2023 at 10:04 pm

    CA here. 10 years, no Master’s and around 100k. Starting teachers make around 52k without any extra education.
    Master’s degree only adds $1,500 a year at our district, so the 20k to get one isn’t always worth it for a lot of teachers.

  9. Jill Cocking February 8, 2023 at 11:06 pm

    I’m in Washington state at one the lower paying districts in our area. I have 9 years experience. Masters +135 and make 73k.

  10. Kimm Vinson February 9, 2023 at 12:52 am

    I’m also in WA state, 17 years experience and masters +90 and I make 103k. Sounds like a lot, but I’m struggling to support a family of 4. Cost of living is high around here. Plus, I’m maxed out on the pay scale and will never get a raise unless it’s a cost of living increase.

  11. Crystal Meyer February 9, 2023 at 1:44 am

    I don’t have the MA/MS/MEd. I do have units beyond the BA that exceed that number of units. Here in the LA area, we’re paid by years of service and units beyond the BA/BS. I retired in 2017 with 18 point something years of service credit. I started in 1999 at $38k, I retired around $80k. My salary, esp my take home, varied greatly depending on which district I was teaching in.

    When I started, LAUSD charged $39 for union dues which included health care and retirement. In Compton Unified, they have “higher salaries” but I paid as much as $1000 a month for health insurance and $200+ a month in union dues, plus 8.5% of my pay went to the pension plan. At LACOE, I worked 70% of full time, the salary scale was lower, and I still took home more than I had in Compton.

  12. Kristi Chambers February 9, 2023 at 3:16 am

    In my district in Texas brand new teachers with no experience start at $61,000. Cost of living is low here so not too shabby!

  13. Molly February 9, 2023 at 5:36 am

    I teach in NY and with 19 years of experience with a masters + 60 additional graduate credits, I make 113K.

  14. MF February 9, 2023 at 5:54 am

    Some of those numbers seem low. When I was hired as a first year teacher in Chicago Public Schools 10 years ago my starting salary was somewhere in the 50K range. So 37,000 seems awfully low. I now teach in the NY burbs (Westchester County). Year 10 for me with a masters and I make 100,000K. Granted it’s a very high cost of living here. But I feel I’m one of the rare teachers who feel appropriately compensated

  15. Cath Schenck February 10, 2023 at 6:22 am

    Interesting post. In my country, we make much less money. I got my certification in 1994, so I’ve been teaching for 29 years… I make 2,300€ a month after taxes…. I’m almost 55 years old and when I retire at 65, I’ll make even less, around 1800€ a month.. Yay..☹️

  16. Stephanie February 10, 2023 at 9:27 am

    I teach in Santa Ana, CA. Orange county tends to have better compensation than other counties in the state. We have basic aid districts within the state (funding comes completely from property taxes) , these will always pay better than most places in the nation. We also have low paying, rural and urban districts throughout. It’s a mixed bag yet the education requirement is the same. California is fortunate to have strong unions which helps keep teacher salaries higher, but is the pay commensurate with levels of education compared to private sector jobs – hell no! No one with a bachelors, masters and a credential should be making $35,000 a year (I don’t care where you live!)…that’s criminal.

  17. Staci Miller May 20, 2023 at 12:42 pm

    I appreciate the effort, but this list with so many variables, mainly years of experience, doesn’t really help me compare anything. In my state any and everything is included in the salary they publish for us. Any part of our health insurance that we don’t pay is considered salary, any contribution to our retirement counts as salary, hell, they probably consider funds spent on textbooks, toilet paper, and power for the buildings as part of our salary. What they say I make and what I actually make are not compatible.

  18. Furio Detti August 18, 2023 at 5:14 am

    QUOTE – If people avoided the career of teaching because of the pay, we would have very few teachers left.

    Sorry but it is because teachers are stupid, unbelievable stupid in general, besides as working class, that we do not quit to pursue another job, even the janitor.
    If we quit in mass amount and we’d say, – “Hey no more teachers F*C* YOU (Yes we must respond as their kids do) – maybe things gonna change or even better the society would be punished hard suffering the consequences of no education/instruction even basic literacy, I am not speaking about a degree or Master or PhD (a basic society could live good enough with no specialized education or literacy about the common needs). But Yes I would see that rotten society pay the price of NO SCHOOL for kids. But, you know, our worst enemies are our colleagues (yes I am a teacher, in Italy), for each teacher that quits there is another poor bast^rd ready to keep up the job, so our bargaing power is plain 0. We should all quit, all in once and let them survive with no school at all!

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