Teaching Profession Data

Average Teacher Pay Passes $70K. How Much Is It in Your State?

By Mark Lieberman — May 07, 2024 3 min read
Illustration of a man holding oversized money.
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For the first time ever, the average teacher salary in America has topped $70,000 this school year.

Teacher salaries are growing faster than at any previous point since the Great Recession—but with inflation factored in, teachers still take home less on average than they did a decade ago, according to the nation’s largest teachers’ union.

The nationwide average teacher salary during the 2023-24 school year is $71,699, the National Education Association estimates in its annual report that ranks and analyzes teacher pay by state.

That figures marks a 3.1 percent increase from last school year’s average teacher salary of $69,544.

That number was the largest year-over-year increase in pay for the nation’s 3 million teachers since the NEA began its annual reports in 2008.

That amount doesn’t pay for as much as it once did, though. After adjusting for inflation, teachers make 5 percent less on average than they did 10 years ago, according to the NEA, which includes more than 2 million teachers, instructional aides, and other educators.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, as designated by the National Parent Teacher Association. But “much work remains to close the teacher pay penalty and address inadequate pay for all educators,” the NEA report says.

The average pay for a starting teacher in 2022-23 was $44,530, up 3.9 percent from the previous year—the largest increase since the NEA began tracking salaries 14 years ago.

Pay-related challenges are particularly acute among younger teachers, the NEA reports. More than three-quarters of districts pay brand new teachers less than $50,000 a year. More than one-quarter pay brand new teachers less than $40,000 a year.

Even later in their careers, most teachers’ salaries will hit a ceiling. Only 16 percent of districts employ at least one teacher who makes more than $100,000 a year. In general, teachers earn 76.5 cents on the dollar compared with what college graduates in other professions make.

Political momentum to raise teacher pay has ramped up in recent years. President Joe Biden has mentioned it during several prominent speeches, including in his March State of the Union address.

States like Georgia and Iowa have approved teacher pay increases during the current legislative session. South Dakota in March raised its minimum teacher salary to $45,000 starting in 2026.

But salary increases aren’t universal—Florida, for instance, in March failed to pass a bill that would have raised the base salary for teachers to $65,000.

Teachers earn, on average, 21 percent more in states that permit collective bargaining for teachers than in states that don’t, according to the NEA report. More than 30 states explicitly allow teachers to collectively bargain, six explicitly prohibit it, and the rest allow it in some circumstances, according to the NEA.

Pay for classroom aides isn’t keeping pace with inflation either

The NEA also tracks compensation for “education support professionals,” including paraprofessionals and instructional aides who provide assistance to teachers in the classroom.

Four in 5 of them work full-time. But full-time education support professionals make an average of just $33,000 a year. More than 12 percent of those working full-time earn less than $15,000 a year.

Salaries for ESPs, like those for teachers, are falling with inflation, even as the amount of money in their paychecks nominally grows year over year.

Similar to teachers, roughly 3 in 5 states explicitly permit ESPs to collectively bargain. In those states, people in those positions earn 14 percent more than in states where aides don’t have those legal rights, according to the NEA.

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