Teacher Salary Secrets Revealed

The truth about competitive teacher salaries: Learn how to make the most of your teacher salary.

Contrary to Popular Belief

money patterned apple representing a teacher salary

By Kate Halstead

No one believes teacher salaries are the path to great wealth.

However, most people don't realize that the average teacher salary is significantly higher than many other professional occupations requiring a 4-year degree. Depending on what and where you teach, you'll find a teacher salary can be quite competitive.

Teacher Salary

Teacher Job Median Annual Salary*
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $53,090
High School Teachers $55,050
Middle School Teachers $53,430
Preschool Teachers $27,130 
Postsecondary Teachers $68,970
Special Education Teachers $55,060
Elementary, Middle and High School Principals $87,760

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition; Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers; High School Teachers; Middle School Teachers; Preschool Teachers; Postsecondary Teachers; Special Education Teachers; Elementary, Middle and High School Principals.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Additional Teacher Salary Benefits

The BLS also estimates that full-time public teachers work an average of 36.5 hours a week during the school year. With the average school year across much of the United States at usually less than 200 days, teaching salaries start to look even more attractive.

In addition, these numbers don't take into account the benefits that most school districts offer their educators: comprehensive health and life insurance, as well as solid retirement and pension plans. Many school districts also offer to pay for or contribute to a teacher's continuing education.

Most districts pay more based on the amount of college education a teacher has. A master's degree, doctorate or other types of certification, such as special education or vocational certificates, can add thousands of dollars to a base teacher salary each year. For more information on these programs, read our article, "How to Become a Teacher."

There are also many other opportunities to increase your teacher salary:

  • coaching after-school athletics
  • advising after-school clubs
  • becoming a department head
  • becoming a mentor for new teachers
  • helping with after-school tutoring programs
  • administering and grading placement exams
  • teaching summer school programs

By supplementing your teacher salary with these extra teaching opportunities, you can make an even better living in many areas. Depending on your teaching degree, experience and job placement research, you can have a very rewarding and good-paying career in the teaching profession.