Enrichment Education

The worst-paying states for teachers

Teacher salaries dropped by about 3 percent from 2010 to 2021, and six states had even steeper declines of 10 percent or more, including Indiana, Wyoming, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Story at a glance

  • Teachers’ salaries declined by about 3 percent nationally from 2010 to 2021. 

  • In the U.S., the average teacher salary is $65,090. 

  • The District of Columbia, Arizona, and Virginia were among the states paying their teachers less than their state average of all other occupations. 

Teachers in the U.S. have seen their salaries decline over the past decade, with some educators paid anywhere from 5 to 18 percent less than the national average wage. 

Business.org analyzed average teacher salaries from the National Center for Educational Statistics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics and ranked the best and worst average teacher salaries in comparison to the average salary for all other occupations. 

The results revealed that nationally, teacher salaries dropped by about 3 percent from 2010 to 2021, and six states – including Indiana, Wyoming, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana — had even steeper declines of 10 percent or more.  

It’s consistent with a separate report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) which found from 1996 to 2021, average weekly wages increased just $29 for public school teachers —consistently earning less than their non-teacher, college-educated counterparts.  

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Here are some of the worst-paying states for teachers in the 2020-2021 academic year: 

  1. District of Columbia 

Teachers working out of the nation’s capital earned 18 percent less than the average salary of all other occupations. Teachers earned an average of about $80,659 while all other occupations in D.C. get $98,370. 

  1. Arizona 

The average salary of a teacher in Arizona was $52,157, which is 5 percent less than the average $55,170 earnings of all other occupations.  

  1. Virginia 

Teachers in Virginia on average made $59,267 and all other occupations received $62,330. That’s just under 5 percent less for teachers. 

  1. Florida 

The average salary for teachers was $49,583 in Florida—the second lowest in the country after Mississippi. All other occupations averaged $51,950, a 4.6 percent difference. 

  1. Colorado 

In Colorado, teachers earn on average $60,611, about 3 percent less than the $62,900 of other occupations. 

  1. Minnesota 

Teachers in Minnesota earn $59,069 on average while all other occupations average $60,480— with teachers earning about 2 percent less. 

Though, Business.org found that teachers in the U.S. can find some good-paying jobs depending on where they live, taking into account the industry’s downward trend in wages, it’s unclear if it’ll be enough to retain a solid teaching population for the country’s future.  

That’s a reality that classrooms across the country are facing, as the National Education Association estimates there’s a shortage of nearly 300,000 educators and support staff across the country. 

Researchers at EPI concluded that targeted policy is urgently needed to address the country’s teacher crisis and without it there’s, “no reasonable expectation of reversal in sight for pandemic-stressed schools and those who serve public education.”