There are over 3 million elementary and secondary school teachers in the country. The BLS has statistics on earnings for teachers at the national level. It says "Median annual wages of kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers ranged from $47,100 to $51,180 in May 2008" But teacher pay varies greatly from state to state and from city to city. I figured it would be interesting to look at teacher pay by state and then put their pay in relation to the median income for each state. Its one thing if a teacher gets $34k or $48k a year but its another thing if thats 70% or 100% of the median income level.
First I got figures for teacher salaries by state. That page has the average beginning salary and the average salary per state. I think the data is from 2006. I also found Census data on median household income. I am using the figures for 2 year average over 2007 - 2008. Yes the dates don't match exactly between teacher pay and median pay but pay rates don't change all that much from year to year so its close enough for my purposes.
Now keep in mind that the information here is based on state level averages and there will be significant variations within a state between cities. A teacher in rural New York will probably make significantly less than the average and a teacher in New York City is going to make a lot more. Even within individual metropolitan areas you can see significant differences in pay levels between school districts.
[edit March 7, 2011 : This is not an apples to apples comparison. I want to point out that I am using the mean teacher salary versus the median household income. These are two different things. The mean and median are different. The mean is the true average and the median is the middle point. I'm also comparing teacher salary versus household wages. The mean and median wages for teachers won't differ much at all given the nature of the job. I'm using the median household income as a basic benchmark of pay levels for the state in question. My purpose here is to get a general comparison of how teacher wages compare to income levels in the state. ]
Here is the full list of all states showing the average teacher salary, median income for households in the state and then the percentage of the teacher pay / median income.
|Teacher Salary||Median Income|
|New Hampshire||$45,263||$ 68,175||66%|
|New Jersey||$58,156||$ 64,070||91%|
|New Mexico||$41,637||$ 44,081||94%|
|New York||$57,354||$ 50,643||113%|
|North Carolina||$43,922||$ 44,058||100%|
|North Dakota||$37,764||$ 49,325||77%|
|Rhode Island||$54,730||$ 54,767||100%|
|South Carolina||$43,011||$ 44,034||98%|
|South Dakota||$34,709||$ 49,901||70%|
|West Virginia||$38,284||$ 40,851||94%|
The states with the Top teacher salaries are :
5 Lowest teacher pay:
But when you compare teacher pay to median income levels the picture changes.
High percent pay / median :
Low percent :