K-12 Teacher Salary Potential

Whether you were beckoned to the fine art of teaching by the tantalizing promise of summers off or the idealistic vision of making the difference in a child’s life, you were likely ultimately drawn by your deep concern for providing our youth with the resources, tools, and capacities they need to succeed now and in the future.  

No matter your enticement, now may be the time to get practical and understand what you might be in for. While teaching has the potential to be an incredibly appealing and rewarding career, it is also a challenging one—one that will demand from you hard work, innovative action, and perpetual training on a never-ending basis. There is little doubt that a teacher salary is one well earned. 

So let’s take a look at the K-12 teaching environment and salary potential:

As a teacher at the K-12 level, you’ll imbue your students’ minds with foundational knowledge of subjects like mathematics, writing, literature, and the natural and social sciences. Depending on your education and background, you might also deliver to your students a taste of art and culture as you teach them artistry, music, foreign languages, or other elective subjects.

No matter your area of expertise, you’ll not only be tasked with imparting core knowledge and preparing your students for personal, cultural, and social success in their friend-groups, families,  and communities, but also meeting the demands of federal and district policies. K-12 teachers, and particularly those working in the public sector, must be adept at following strict regulations and meeting the incredibly diverse needs of real human beings.

In practical terms, a teacher’s job in fourfold: they teach and support students in the classroom, meet with and support parents and guardians before and after school; meet and work with coworkers during the week; and grade and prepare lessons during their free time. Are you getting a sense of a teacher’s work?

K-12 teachers do their dance with kindergartners, elementary students, middle school students, or high school students. They work in public, private, or charter school settings in rural or urban areas. They work for small, medium, or large districts, in schools that have or lack resources. Teachers educated and trained in the U.S. may pursue certification to teach in the United States, or they may pursue careers teaching core subjects and the English language internationally.

No matter where they work and for whom, teachers must be alert, resourceful, creative, and willing: willing to meet objectives, willing to try new things, willing to juggle a deluge of tasks, and willing to partake in a job that never ends. At least until summer vacation…   

Teacher Salary Potential

Just as it does in many industries, the teacher salary depends upon each professional’s education, skill, and experience, among other factors. Teachers are often hired based on federal, state, and district needs, and teachers’ pay can vary depending on their experience and how well their skills and educational background meet the industry’s needs.

Here are some actual K-12 teacher salary numbers according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: kindergarten teachers earned a median salary of $50,120 as of May, 2012[i]. The same study showed that middle school teachers earned a median salary of $53,430[ii]. Meanwhile, elementary school teachers earned a median salary of $53,4001.  Meanwhile, high school teachers earned a mean annual wage of $55,050[iii].

The job outlook for teachers depends upon the job type: the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for kindergarten and elementary school teachers will grow by 12 percent between now and the year 2022 (as fast as average for all professions)[iv], employment for middle school teachers will grow by 12 percent[v], and that employment for high school teachers will grow by 6 percent in the same amount of time (slower than average for all professions)[vi]

Teacher Salaries by State

As mentioned above, the teacher salary varies, in part, by location. Following is a table with data taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that describes average salaries for teachers working throughout the United States:  

Select Kindergarten Teacher Salary and Employment Data

Mean Annual Wages as of May 2014[vii]

State

Bottom 10% of Earners

Mean Annual Wage

Top 10% of Earners

2014 Employment

Kindergarten Teacher Salary in California

$41,330

$63,760

$90,190

19,960

Kindergarten Teacher Salary in Texas

$38,890

$49,970

$63,180

14,390

Kindergarten Teacher Salary in Florida

$33,050

$46,490

$65,200

11,060

Kindergarten Teacher Salary in New York

$31,660

$66,990

$113,650

6,920

Kindergarten Teacher Salary in Connecticut

$44,080

$70,480

$97,860

2,030

Kindergarten Teacher Salary in Alaska

$50,520

$66,380

$91,940

340

Kindergarten Teacher Salary in Massachusetts

$35,810

$65,650

$94,120

3,520

Kindergarten Teacher Salary in Rhode Island

$33,430

$64,290

$92,050

390

Kindergarten Teacher Salary in Maine

$31,690

$46,720

$62,680

1,020

Kindergarten Teacher Salary in Arkansas

$33,160

$45,420

$59,310

1,920

Kindergarten Teacher Salary in Colorado

$28,180

$45,550

$68,240

3,910

Kindergarten Teacher Salary in West Virginia

$34,220

$47,040

$60,020

1,160

Kindergarten Teacher Salary in New Mexico

$30,670

$45,690

$61,720

1,280

 

Select Elementary School Teacher Salary and Employment Data

Mean Annual Wages as of May 2014[viii]

State

Bottom 10% of Earners

Mean Annual Wage

Top 10% of Earners

2014 Employment

Elementary School Teacher Salary in Texas

$40,270

$51,100

$63,050

144,200

Elementary School Teacher Salary in California

$46,040

$69,990

$93,780

135,230

Elementary School Teacher Salary in New York

$44,190

$74,830

$112,940

73,280

Elementary School Teacher Salary in Florida

$34,520

$47,730

$66,110

70,910

Elementary School Teacher Salary Illinois

$34,250

$57,950

$90,280

61,130

Elementary School Teacher Salary in Mississippi

$32,050

$41,010

$54,060

14,420

Elementary School Teacher Salary in Utah

$32,120

$54,200

$83,490

15,660

Elementary School Teacher Salary in Maine

$33,390

$48,770

$64,240

7,120

Elementary School Teacher Salary in Alabama

$38,950

$49,410

$60,450

22,210

Elementary School Teacher Salary in Alaska

$51,130

$71,460

$98,290

3,230

Elementary School Teacher Salary in Connecticut

$47,010

$70,820

$95,330

16,510

Elementary School Teacher Salary in Massachusetts

$45,130

$69,890

$94,940

26,770

 

Select Middle School Teacher Salary and Employment Data

Mean Annual Wages as of May 2014[ix]

State

Bottom 10% of Earners

Mean Annual Wage

Top 10% of Earners

2014 Employment

Middle School Teacher Salary in Texas

$40,460

$51,530

$63,670

72,440

Middle School Teacher Salary in California

$45,320

$67,740

$92,910

46,340

Middle School Teacher Salary in New York

$46,560

$75,470

$113,460

39,220

Middle School Teacher Salary in Illinois

$39,610

$63,840

$94,600

39,020

Middle School Teacher Salary in Florida

$35,200

$48,440

$66,700

32,180

Middle School Teacher Salary in New Jersey

$50,620

$68,410

$95,110

68,410

Middle School Teacher Salary in West Virginia

$33,310

$45,070

$59,420

4,410

Middle School Teacher Salary in Mississippi

$32,280

$41,270

$54,960

6,720

Middle School Teacher Salary in Connecticut

$48,230

$71,690

$95,340

9,850

Middle School Teacher Salary in Alaska

$50,220

$71,040

$94,210

1,620

Middle School Teacher Salary in Massachusetts

$46,580

$70,020

$94,420

17,610

 

Select High School Teacher Salary and Employment Data

Mean Annual Wages as of May 2014[x]

State

Bottom 10% of Earners

Mean Annual Wage

Top 10% of Earners

2014 Employment

High School Teacher Salary in Texas

$40,220

$52,420

$68,760

103,260

High School Teacher Salary in California

$49,760

$72,670

$96,790

8,6930

High School Teacher Salary in New York

$46,620

$76,680

$115,520

67,320

High School Teacher Salary in Pennsylvania

$41,640

$62,130

$89,090

50,930

High School Teacher Salary in Illinois

$40,610

$70,120

$107,380

49,610

High School Teacher Salary in Vermont

$35,050

$54,400

$75,060

3,230

High School Teacher Salary in Rhode Island

$47,190

$71,000

$95,170

4,440

High School Teacher Salary in Mississippi

$32,290

$42,520

$57,290

10,430

High School Teacher Salary in Maine

$33,290

$49,110

$66,650

5,450

High School Teacher Salary in New Jersey

$51,360

$72,790

$10,1130

32,760

High School Teacher Salary in Alaska

$52,460

$72,120

$96,480

2,220

High School Teacher Salary in Massachusetts

$47,190

$71,000

$95,170

24,000

 

K-12 Education Masters Degree Programs


Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-5 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm#tab-5 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-5 | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-6 | [v] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm#tab-6 | [vi] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-6 | [vii] .bls.gov/oes/current/oes252012.htm | [viii] bls.gov/oes/current/oes252021.htm | [ix] bls.gov/oes/current/oes252022.htm | [x]bls.gov/oes/current/oes252031.htm

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