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Teacher Pay Across the USA


Today’s teachers face more stress and job demands than in years past. However, their paycheck isn’t reflecting the extra energy and effort. According to a study published by the Economic Policy Institute, average weekly teacher wages have decreased from $1,122 to $1,092 during the past 20 years (adjusted for inflation). In contrast, weekly wages of all college graduates rose from $1,292 to $1,416 during the same time period.

Teacher salaries can vary greatly from state to state, so educators in the lowest paying states are impacted the most by lagging pay. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these states pay teachers the least:

1. Mississippi: $42,043
2. Oklahoma: $42,647
3. South Dakota: $43,200
4. North Carolina: $43,587
5. Arizona: $43,800

Top-paying states include Alaska, New York, Connecticut, California and Massachusetts. While there is a correlation between teacher pay and cost of living in many of these states, there are exceptions. For example, teachers in Richmond, VA make an average of $7,000 more than their peers in Charlotte, NC. These cities have a similar cost of living.

There is some good news for teachers in the lowest paying states. Earlier this year, the governors of Arizona and North Carolina announced plans to increase teacher pay. In Oklahoma, a bill was passed that will give teachers a $6,000 raise over three years. And just this month, South Dakota lawmakers approved a small raise for teachers in their state.