What Is the Starting Pay for Teachers?

Your starting pay as a teacher will depend on the level of students you teach, your experience, your education and the location of your job. Generally, high school teachers make a higher starting salary than new middle school teachers, and they both start at higher pay levels than elementary school teachers. Read on to learn more. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

As a teacher, you'll prepare structured lesson plans, homework and examinations to ensure the students you teach achieve a minimum level of basic skills. You could teach a number of subjects, such as English, history, science and mathematics, with the objective of preparing students to continue to the next grade level. Your salary will depend on a number of factors, such as whether you teach elementary, middle or high school. Your experience, education and location will also determine your starting salary.

Important Facts About Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle, and High School Teachers

On-the-Job Training Must complete a period of student teaching to gain firsthand experience
Licensure/Certification Professional license or certification required for public schools; private school teachers typically do not need licensure
Key Skills Ability to communicate with students; think creatively and resourcefully; patience
Similar Occupations Childcare worker, principal, librarian, school counselor

Salary by Experience and Education

Experience often plays a big part in determining your salary. Generally, salaries tend to increase over time as you gain experience. In December 2015, PayScale.com provided the following breakdown of national salaries for K-12 teachers according to level of experience:

  • 0-1 year - $37,004
  • 1-4 years - $39,103
  • 5-9 years - $43,707
  • 10-19 years - $50,200

Your level of education might also determine your starting salary. According to PayScale.com, those holding a master's degree tend to earn a higher starting salary than those holding only a bachelors' degree.

Salary by Location

Where you live and work can influence your salary. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), opportunities for middle school teachers will be greater in the South and West, with job rates holding steady in the Midwest and declining in the Northeast. State Departments of Labor frequently provide occupational wage information, including starting salaries. For example, new teachers in Idaho (lmi.idaho.gov) earned the following entry-level pay rates in 2014:

  • Elementary school - $34,240
  • Middle school - $33,900
  • High school - $32,370

In the Northeast, New York teachers (www.labor.ny.gov) made higher starting salaries in 2014.

  • Elementary school - $48,510
  • Middle school - $50,380
  • High school - $50,690

Also in 2014, the Texas Workforce Commission (www.texaswages.com') reported that beginning wages for K-12 teachers differed only minimally.

  • Elementary school - $41,835
  • Middle school - $42,073
  • High school - $41,335

Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity (www.floridajobs.org) estimated the starting pay for teachers based on its 2014 salary survey.

  • Elementary school - $37,666
  • Middle school - $38,521
  • High school - $38,931

Salary by Position

Generally, starting salaries are higher at the high school level than the elementary school level. According to a December 2015 report by PayScale.com, annual median salaries for various positions across the U.S. were as follows:

  • Elementary school teacher - $42,419
  • Middle school teacher - $44,092
  • High school teacher - $47,079

Employment Outlook and Other Factors

Current job prospects look promising at elementary and middle school levels. According to the BLS, employment for elementary, middle school and high school teachers is predicted to grow 12%, 12% and 6%, respectively, from 2012-2022. The 6% growth for high school teachers is slower than the national average for job growth across all jobs.

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