Teaching Profession From Our Research Center

Here’s What Teachers Think Their Salaries Should Be

By Madeline Will — April 19, 2024 2 min read
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It’s no secret that teachers are generally unsatisfied with their salaries. A $20,000 raise might help, a new survey suggests.

Allovue, an education finance software company, commissioned the EdWeek Research Center to conduct a nationally representative survey of 1,855 teachers, school leaders, and district leaders. The survey was conducted online in November 2023 and released earlier this month.

The full survey covers a wide range of school finance issues, including views on salaries. Teacher salaries were top of mind for educators, topping the list of expenses survey respondents think should get more funding, even if it meant reducing spending in other areas.

After all, better pay would keep teachers from quitting. More than two-thirds of teachers in the Allovue survey said their current salaries are unfair, and about half say they want to leave their current jobs because of it.

Teachers said they thought they realistically deserved a 31 percent raise, from the current U.S. median salary of $65,000 to a desired median salary of $85,000.

The median is the midpoint of the responses, meaning half of the respondents said less and half said more. The current median teacher salary is in line with the national average estimated by the National Education Association—although teacher salaries vary significantly by state and district, as well as by experience levels.

The survey found similar desired raises for assistant principals and principals, the latter of whom said $123,500 would be fair pay for the work they do. Superintendents asked for an 18 percent raise to $150,000.

Teachers’ desired salaries rose 6.25 percent between 2022 and 2023, from $80,000 to $85,000, according to the last Allovue survey. That’s about twice the rate of inflation during that time period.

“I just want a fair raise that will cover the cost of living and inflation,” a high school math teacher in California wrote in an open-ended response to the survey.

A high school English/language arts teacher in Texas wrote, “I am a single parent, and I currently can’t afford to do my job and live. My bills far outweigh my salary due to inflation and the area we live in. ... I have been in education for 15 years, and there is no reason I should have to take two jobs to live, or look at food stamps to feed my family.”

Teachers make less than their similarly educated peers in other professions, a long-running analysis by the Economic Policy Institute has found. Nearly 1 in 5 teachers hold second jobs outside the school system during the school year to supplement their salaries, according to federal data.

In many states, teacher pay has been a political priority for several years. This spring so far, Georgia legislators approved a $2,500 raise for teachers, Alabama lawmakers are expected to approve a 2 percent raise and increase the starting teacher salary to $47,600, and Iowa raised the starting pay for beginning teachers to $50,000 and set a minimum salary of $62,000 for teachers with at least 12 years of experience in the 2025-26 school year.

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Data analysis for this article was provided by the EdWeek Research Center. Learn more about the center’s work.

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