Teachers choose their career for many reasons, but it’s fair to say a dream of big bucks is seldom one of them.
Education is famously a low-paid profession, although rewards come in other, less tangible ways. That “If you can read this, thank a teacher” bumper sticker may be a cliche, but it’s also true.
Elementary school teachers in the U.S. earned an average annual wage of $60,830 as of 2017, the latest year for which federal data is available. Middle school teachers earned an average of $61,040 at that same time. High school teachers averaged $62,860 per year.
But teacher pay varies considerably by state. For example, elementary school teachers in New York earn twice as much as those in Oklahoma.
States also vary as to which level pays best. Often, elementary school teachers make less than their middle school and high school counterparts, but not always.
For example, in California, elementary and high school teachers each earn an average of more than $77,000, while middle school pay averages a few thousand dollars less. In Idaho, by comparison, it’s middle school teachers who earn the most — by roughly $5,000.
Following are the average annual wages for elementary, middle and high school teachers in each state. The states are ranked based on elementary-school pay.