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What Kind of Teachers Make the Most Money? An In-Depth Look at Teacher Pay

What Kind of Teachers Make the Most Money?

So, you’ve decided you want to be a teacher: what now? Education is a wonderful field with many benefits where you will be doing important work, however it isn’t always well compensated.  If you are eager to know what kind of teachers make the most money, you’ve come to the right place! It is important to know what branch of education is right for you, and how much money you will make depending on the type of job you obtain and the state you live in.

Related Post: How to Make Money in the Education Field

What Kind of Teaching Job is Right for you?

Your education and preparation will depend on the type of job you chose to pursue and what area you live in. Some jobs you might consider are school counselor, special education, preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school and ESL (English as a Second Language). Although these options all fall into the same field, a regular day in any of these positions is drastically different from the others.

Once you’ve considered what type of teaching job suits you better based on your interests, preferred age group, and the duties you will be performing you can choose an educational route. Here in the United States you will need a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in education.

If you choose to work with an older age group such as High School students, you can elect to major in the subject you would like to teach. In addition, you will need to obtain a state issued teaching certificate. These are the minimum requirements in many states, but there are some exceptions. There are several states that have required a master’s degree to be a teacher in the past but have removed this requirement in recent years, so it is important to look up the specific requirements in your home state.

After deciding the type of teaching job you would like and researching the requirements for your state, it’s time to consider the numbers! How much can you make as a teacher? Let’s take an in-depth look at what kind of teachers make the most money…

Which Teaching Jobs Pay the Most?

Which Teaching Jobs Pay the Most? High School Chemistry Teacher

As of 2019 the national average annual salary for a teacher in the US is $45,082. However, there are a few positions that are more likely to meet or surpass that average than others.  These higher paying positions are divided into two categories: entry level jobs that are ideal for aspiring future educators, and jobs that require higher education and experience.

Entry level jobs that do not necessarily require previous experience do require a bachelor’s degree and state certification.

Among these Jobs the Higher Paying Positions Include:

  • High School Chemistry Teachers: for this position the salary range is $39,000-$72,000. Chemistry teachers will require a bachelor’s degree, preferably majoring in chemistry, and a state certification. Just as with all teaching positions, it is important to research the specific requirements for your state, as in some you might need a master’s degree!
  • High School Math Teachers: for this position the salary range is $37,000 – $66,000. A bachelor’s degree is necessary, preferably in math or a related field, and possibly further education depending on which state you live in.
  • Special Education Teachers: for this position the salary range is $37,000 – $78,000. A bachelor’s degree related to education and, depending on the state, possibly additional education or certifications are required.
  • Bilingual Education Teacher: for these teachers the salary range is $46,000 – $57,000. This is not necessarily a position; it’s more of an advantage. Teachers who are fluent in more than one language can earn more than monolingual teachers and have more professional opportunities as ESL teachers.
  • Librarians: for this position the salary range is $38,000 – $82,000. This position does usually require a master’s degree in library science or a similar field, but an applicant does not necessarily need previous experience in education.

Related: What are the Pros and Cons of Being a High School Teacher?

Which Teacher Jobs Pay the Least?

If you are interested one day filling one of the following positions, you do not necessarily need to change career paths. The world still needs all types of teachers. However, all new teachers should go into the field knowing what to expect.

These are Some of the Teaching Jobs that Pay the Least:

  • Substitute Teachers: the average annual pay for this position is $29,590. Substitute Teachers require less education and training than most of the other positions on this list and said training will vary on a state to state or school to school basis, but the compensation for this position is also considerably lower than many of the other jobs.
  • Teaching Assistants: the average annual pay for this position $25,310. This position does not require a degree.
  • Preschool Teachers: the average base pay for Lead Preschool Teachers is $30,750. This position does require an associate degree in early child education or a related field.
  • Elementary School Teachers: the average annual salary for this position is $45,413. This position does may more than many of the others on this list, but it is important to note that on elementary school teachers make less than middle school teachers, and that both make less than high school teachers.
  • Private School Teachers: the average salary for private school teacher is $36,000. The lower pay is for a number of reasons, but it basically comes down to the fact that private school tend to have better working conditions, so the school can afford to pay their staff less.

Which States Pay Teachers the Most?

Which States Pay Teachers the Most? (Washington D.C.)

Of course, pay doesn’t depend only on the position, but on where you live. The average salary for new teachers is different in every state in the US. If you are considering entering this profession, you should keep in mind how much you might start off making. If you are an aspiring future educator living in one of the following states, you’re in luck!

These are Ten States that Pay their New Teachers Best as of 2020:

  1. District of Columbia, where the teacher pay is: $55,209
  2. New Jersey, where the teacher pay is: $51,443
  3. California, where the teacher pay is: $46,992
  4. Alaska, where the teacher pay is: $46,954
  5. Hawaii, where the teacher pay is: $46,790
  6. Connecticut, where the teacher pay is: $45,922
  7. New York, where the teacher pay is: $45,589
  8. Massachusetts, where the teacher pay is: $45,498
  9. Wyoming, where the teacher pay is: $45,241
  10. Maryland, where the teacher pay is: $45,147

Which States Pay Teachers The Least?

Unfortunately, not every stat pays new teacher fresh out of college as well. Don’t panic! Even if your state is on the following list, that does not mean you will never make more. If you are really dedicated to pursuing this career, then the key is to stick with it. As with any career, you will never make as much money your first year doing it as you will on you fifth year or your tenth year. The more experience you gain, the higher your salary will eventually be. However, it is still important to know which states have the lowest salary on average for new teachers.

Here are the ten states that pay their teachers the least as of 2020:

  1. Montana, where the teacher pay is: $31,418
  2. Oklahoma, where the teacher pay is: $32,010
  3. Missouri, where the teacher pay is: $32,226
  4. South Carolina, where the teacher pay is: $33,148
  5. Arkansas, where the teacher pay is: $33,323
  6. Colorado, where the teacher pay is: $33,483
  7. West Virginia, where the teacher pay is: $33,715
  8. Nebraska, where the teacher pay is: $34,465
  9. Arizona, where the teacher pay is: $34,473
  10. Mississippi, where the teacher pay is: $34,784

Can you Negotiate a Teacher’s Salary?

Can you Negotiate a Teacher's Salary?

The short answer is yes. It is possible to negotiate a salary, but the extent depends on factors such as the teacher’s qualifications and the school they are applying to, as some schools’ contracts leave no room for negotiation. It is important to ask yourself these questions when you are ready to negotiate your salary:

Do you Have Room to Negotiate?

The more experience you have in the field, the more you can lean on said experience. Additionally, teachers working for private businesses have more room to negotiate than teachers working for public or private schools.

Should you Negotiate?

Negotiating doesn’t have to revolve solely around salary. A new teacher might be able to negotiate for classroom equipment or special requests to make your job easier. Sometimes these things can outweigh the salary; you might ponder on your situation and reach the conclusion that you would rather have a slightly lower salary but receive bigger bonuses and better benefits!

When do you Negotiate?

Wait until you are offered the job before trying to negotiate the conditions, don’t lead with questions about salary or benefits, for example with questions about teacher pension plans or paid maternity leave.  See the linked articles if you have questions about those topics!

What Kind of Teachers Make the Most Money – Conclusion

Any teacher from any school, state or position will tell you that this is a labor of love. It is not always well compensated in the United States, but there are ways to work around this. Also important to note is that even if you are young it is important to think about when you should retire as a teacher.  Be prepared: do your research, chose the type of job that is best for you, and consider carefully whether to negotiate your salary and how. If educating is what you love to do, then it will be worth it.

Salary figure source – World Population Review.

Photo Credits: Adobe Stock / © Maksym Povozniuk (Main Image), Daniel (Washington D.C.), RomanR (Chemistry Teacher), Drobot Dean (Negotiation)

Written by Andrea Hernaiz

Andrea Hernaiz is a a college student from Miami, Florida who is working towards her A.A. in Teaching Elementary. She spends most of her time teaching introductory and advanced swim lessons for children and toddlers, and writing about education or water safety.

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