Teacher Salary


Teaching is often thought of as a noble profession.  Teachers are entrusted with educating our future generations.  They help lay the foundation for society’s future leaders during an impressionable time of their lives.  Teachers not only relay knowledge to students, but they also serve as mentors.  So how much do teachers make?  We will go over a teacher salary in this article.

Teacher Salary

What is the salary of a teacher?  This can vary depending on which state and grade someone teaches in and whether or not they work for a public or private school.  Currently the average annual salary of a teacher is around $55,000 and monthly salary is around $4,600.  The top 10% make over $86,000 while the lowest starting wage can be as low as $37,000.  Presently, the highest paying states are New York, Alaska, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Teachers usually work 6 hours a day in the classroom; however, they must put in extra hours to grade papers and write lesson plans.  They get two weeks of paid vacation and time off when schools are closed for winter, spring, and summer breaks.  Many schools offer comprehensive health insurance to teachers.  The government also offers pension plans to public school teachers.

Responsibilities of a Teacher

Teachers are responsible for a host of tasks.  They need to be highly skilled and able to do a number of things on a daily basis.  Teachers regularly partake in classroom preparation which can include anything from writing lesson plans to photocopying worksheets to grading student work.  They also spend a great deal of time speaking in front of their classes teaching.  Lastly, teachers are required to maintain contact with their students’ parents, especially if an individual is having a difficult time in class.

In order to successfully carry out their responsibilities teachers must have excellent communication skills so they can effective communicate the information in their lesson plans and speak with parents about issues with students.  Patience is also a requisite skill as sometimes students will test boundaries.  Lastly, being collaborative allows teachers to work with colleagues and design lesson plans that will motivate students and hold their interest.

Although standing in front of a classroom a large part of what a teacher does, their responsibilities extend far beyond the school day.  After hours some act as mentors and support their students and the families through community involvement.  They may act as mentors or tutors both educationally and with issues that may be affecting students socially.

Work Environment

The work environment can vary depending on the subject or grade level they teach.  Typically, a teacher is assigned a well lit classroom.  There is usually a white board and in a technology age at least one computer for student use.  Teachers are also given basic materials such as paper, pens, pencils, etc. to utilize in class.  They tend to handle between 20-35 students per class.  States may also have limits on how many students teachers are allowed to teach in a day.

Aside from the usual 6 hour classroom day teachers often put in outside school hours to prep lessons or grade assignments.  With these additional hours teachers normally end up working 50 hours a week.  Most teachers work 9-10 months out of the year with 2-3 months off during breaks and summer vacation.

How to become a Teacher

Requirements for becoming a teacher can also vary depending on state requirements, what grade you teach, and what kind of institution you teach in.  Generally, states require their teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential for the subject(s) or grade level(s) they wish to teach.   Credential programs as well as test prerequisites vary based on the state.  You should check with your state’s education board for specific information on teaching requirements.  The average cost for a credential program is anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000 and take 1-1.5 years to complete the program.

Another avenue an aspiring teacher may pursue is a master’s degree in education.  The average cost for a master’s program is $12,000-$74,000 depending on the state and school that you choose.  The degree will take about 2-2.5 years to complete.

Testing fees can add another $100-$300 to the additional credential or masters program tuitions.

It is imperative that in either pursuing a credential or a master’s degree that you check to ensure that the programs are certified with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.  It also needs approval by the board of education in the state in which you live.  Additionally, many continue with their teaching education throughout their careers via professional development.

Career Outlook

Growth varies depending on grade level but by 2022 teaching jobs are expected to grow between 6% and 12%.  Growth rate for kindergarten, elementary, and middle school teachers is 12%.  There is a projected increase in enrollment and declines in student-teacher ratios.  This ratio decline means that each teacher is responsible for fewer students which means a higher need for more individuals to fill the additional positions.  However, there is a threat from government cutbacks may slow the growth as teachers are laid off and are not replaced.

High school teaching positions are expected to grow much slower at 6%.  Like elementary and middle school positions student enrollment is expected to increase although not as fast.  Student to teacher ratio is on the decline too.  Again budget deficits will negatively affect this growth.

Related Careers

Teacher assistants work under the supervision of a teacher and provide additional instruction to students.  Most work part time and educational requirements vary by school district.  In general, minimum educational requirements to be a teacher assistant range between obtaining a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.  Average annual wage is $23,640.

Preschool teachers educate and care for children between the ages of 3-5.  They prepare children for kindergarten by teaching basic reading, writing, science, and other subjects in a way that young children can understand.  Many work a 10 month school year with a few working year round.  Educational requirements vary based on state regulations.  They can be anywhere from having a high school diploma and certification to a college degree.  The average annual wage is $27,130.

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