Teachers earn $67K on average. Is push for raises too late? (2024)


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — As schools across the country struggle to find teachers to hire, more governors are pushing for pay increases, bonuses and other perks for the beleaguered profession — with some vowing to beat out other states competing for educators.

Already in 2023, governors in Georgia and Arkansas have pushed through teacher pay increases. Ahead of Monday’s start of national Teacher Appreciation Week, others — both Republican and Democratic — have proposed doing the same to attract and retain educators.

More than half of the states’ governors over the past year — 26 so far — have proposed boosting teacher compensation, according to groups that track it. The nonprofit Teacher Salary Project said it is the most it has seen in nearly two decades of tracking.

“Today we have governors left and right from every political party and then some who are addressing this issue because they have to,” said founder and CEO Ninivé Caligari. “We’ve never seen what we are seeing right now. Never.”

In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little is aiming to raise the state’s average starting salary into the nation’s top 10. In Delaware, Gov. John Carney said competition for teachers is more intense than ever and a pay increase is necessary to “win the competition with surrounding states.”

It’s not clear how far pay raises will go toward relieving the shortages, though, and some teachers say it is too little, too late to fix problems that are years in the making.

Blame for teacher shortages has fallen on underfunding after the Great Recession, tight labor markets, lackluster enrollments in colleges and programs that train teachers and teacher burnout inflamed by the travails of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There has been no mass exodus, but data from some states that track teacher turnover has shown rising numbers of teachers leaving the profession over the past couple years.

Shortages are most extreme in certain areas, including the poorest or most rural districts, researchers say. Districts also report particular difficulties in hiring for in-demand subjects like special education, math and science.

Meanwhile, teacher salaries have fallen further and further behind those of their college-educated peers in other fields, as teachers report growing workloads, shrinking autonomy and increasingly hostile school environments.

Magan Daniel, who at 33 just left her central Alabama school district, was not persuaded to stay by pay raises as Alabama’s governor vows to make teacher salaries the highest in the Southeast. It would take big increases to match neighboring Georgia, where the average teacher salary is $62,200, according to the National Education Association.

Fixing teachers’ deteriorating work culture and growing workloads would be a more powerful incentive than a pay raise, she said.

She recalled, for instance, her principal asking her to make copies and lesson plans last fall while she was on unpaid maternity leave. Difficulty getting substitutes puts pressure on teachers who need time off for emergencies, she said, and spending nights and weekends on paperwork siphoned the joy out of teaching.

“I would not go back just for a higher salary,” Daniel said.

In Oklahoma, Joshua Morgan, 46, left his rural district a year ago because after 18 years he was still earning under $47,000. Oklahoma’s governor is talking about awarding performance bonuses, but Morgan said he would only go back to teaching for substantially more money — like $65,000 a year.

The national average public school teacher salary in 2021-22 increased 2% from the previous year to $66,745, according to the NEA, the nation’s largest teachers union. Inflation peaked around 9% at the time.

For new recruits, the math of paying for a college education is grim: The national average beginning teacher salary was $42,845 in 2021-22, according to the NEA. Teachers do often qualify for public service loan forgiveness, which forgives their student debt after they’ve made 10 years of monthly payments.

Besides fewer teachers getting certified, the “teacher pay penalty” — the gap between teacher salaries and their college-educated peers in other professions — is growing.

It reached a record 23.5% in 2021, with teachers earning an average 76.5 cents for every dollar earned by other college-educated professionals, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

It has been widening for decades, researchers say. For men, it is 35% and for women it is 17% — reflecting the gender pay gap seen across the U.S. economy.

For Rachaele Otto and other Louisiana teachers, the prospect of a $3,000 salary increase proposed by the governor might be appreciated. But at roughly $200 a month after taxes, it’s not enough to keep a teacher who feels burned out or demoralized, Otto said.

“I know there are teachers willing to take pay cuts to leave the profession,” said Otto, 38, a science teacher in a rural Louisiana district. “If you double the salary, maybe that would change their thinking.”

Sylvia Allegretto, a senior economist who studies teacher compensation for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, called salary promises by governors one-time “Band-Aids” that barely keep up with inflation.

“You’re kind of chipping away at the margins,” Allegretto said. “You’re not fixing the problem, generally.”

For governors, raising teacher pay may be good politics, but raising it across the board may have little long-term impact. Getting better data on where the shortages are and then targeting raises — or bigger raises — to those areas will help more, researchers say.

Research shows a pay raise will have at least some effect on retaining teachers, said Ed Fuller, a Penn State associate professor who studies teacher quality and turnover. What is difficult to research, Fuller said, is the effect a raise has on a college student’s decision to enter a teacher preparation program — and take on debt.

Some districts haven’t waited for governors and legislatures to act.

Kentucky’s biggest school district, Jefferson County in Louisville, gave a 4% raise last year and the board approved another raise of 5% to start this coming July. It also started giving an annual $8,000 stipend to teachers who work with higher-need students.

Superintendent Marty Pollio wants the district to be the highest paying in Kentucky, calling the teacher shortage “a real crisis and a growing crisis.”

In Pennsylvania, the William Penn School District is offering signing bonuses for long-term subs and holding its first-ever teachers job fair.

Superintendent Eric Becoats said a teacher told him they can move to neighboring districts and make $10,000 more — something the relatively small and poor district cannot compete with right now.

Some teachers also tell him they will retire or leave the profession if they can.

Morgan said a major change in salary is required to overcome a major change in how teachers now view a profession where they once expected to stay until they retired.

“That’s not how the world works anymore,” Morgan said. “I’m seeing more educators, especially the younger ones, coming in and saying, ‘I’m not willing to put up with this.’”


Brooke Schultz, a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative, contributed to this report. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Data reporter Sharon Lurye also contributed from New Orleans.


Follow Marc Levy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/timelywriter

Marc Levy, The Associated Press

Teachers earn $67K on average. Is push for raises too late? (2024)


When should teachers ask for a raise? ›

Prove that you are original when transferring knowledge and that you stand out from other teachers with your originality. After such an achievement, asking for a raise is the right moment. The original teacher deserves a raise because the raise is a reward for hard work and commitment in the workplace.

Why does everyone say teachers are underpaid? ›

There are a number of reasons why teachers are underpaid, including budget cuts, inadequate funding for education, a focus on standardized testing, and a lack of investment in teacher training and development. One of the primary reasons why teachers are underpaid is due to budget cuts in the education sector.

How do teachers not get paid enough? ›

Teachers get paid so little because education is underfunded in the United States. This equation has other factors, but this is the prime reason. The professional group of teachers has not experienced a salary increase in quite a long time.

Why is teacher performance pay ineffective? ›

The teacher pay for performance model implies that teachers are unmotivated to excel and need to be bribed—by higher pay—to do their jobs better. This is insulting to teachers. Most teachers don't go into teaching for the money. They teach because they're passionate about education and because they care about kids.

What is a fair ask for a raise? ›

A good pay raise ranges from 4.5% to 5%, and anything more than that is considered exceptional. Depending on the reasons you cite for a pay raise and the length of time that has passed since your last raise, you could request a raise in the 10% to 20% range.

What is the most you should ask for a raise? ›

It's always a good idea to ask for anywhere between 10% to 20% higher than what you're making right now. You may be able to ask for more based on your performance, length of time with the company, and other factors. Make sure you come prepared when you negotiate your raise and be confident.

Do teachers really not get paid well? ›

In 2020, with 250,000 records available, we see the median total pay of full-time teachers was $91,067. Median total compensation – including benefits – was $119,422. These are facts, from actual data. But it's expensive to live in our state.

What state pays the teachers the most? ›

New York leads the nation in teacher pay with an average salary of $80,286, according to WalletHub.
Here's how much teachers earn in the five highest-paying states.
  • New York. Average salary: $80,286.
  • Illinois. Average salary: $70,696.
  • Michigan. Average salary: $70,137.
  • Pennsylvania. Average salary: $69,949.
  • Washington.
Mar 16, 2023

Are teachers overworked and underpaid? ›

The pandemic and shifting political landscape have left teachers feeling overworked and undervalued. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, K-12 teachers report the highest burnout rate of all U.S. professions. More than four out of every 10 teachers said they feel burned out “always” or “very often” at work.

Why do teachers deserve higher salaries? ›

Compared to non-teachers, teachers are 30% more likely to work a second job. Increasing teacher salaries would help them maintain their focus in the classroom and improve their morale as they wouldn't need to perform a second job.

Are teachers in America underpaid? ›

Allegretto found that teachers are paid, on average, 23.5% less than other educated workers who choose other professions. “Even ones who want to become teachers often say they're not going to be because they know they're going to fall further and further behind,” she said.

Why do teachers get apples? ›

In the United States, early American children gave teachers apples because the “families whose children attended schools were often responsible for housing and feeding frontier teachers,” according to a PBS special, titled “Frontier House, Frontier Life,” and noted in Smithsonian Magazine.

How many teachers are fired for poor performance? ›

In the last ten years, only 91 teachers out of about 300,000 (. 003 percent) who have attained permanence lost their jobs in California. Of those, only 19 (. 0007 percent) have been dismissed for poor performance.

Should teacher pay be based on performance? ›

Most teachers provide far more than simply the ability to meet learning objectives or goals. More than just a test score should be considered when teaching. Teachers should ideally be compensated for the size of their impact and for making a difference in the lives of their students.

What are the cons of merit pay for teachers? ›

Although supporters of merit pay would argue that it motivates teachers to work harder, merit pay is ultimately detrimental to school systems since it awards based on unfair standards, prioritizes grades over learning, and creates a competitive environment between teachers.

What to say when your raise isn t enough? ›

Thank your boss for the salary bump and recognition they've already given you, and then explain why you believe the number should be reconsidered. Share your big accomplishments, as well as the salary data you've gathered, to back up why you would like your manager to reconsider your raise.

How much is a $5 raise? ›

To calculate a 5% pay raise, you only have to multiply the percentage of the increase (in decimals) by your current salary and add your current salary. So, assuming your monthly salary is $1,000, a 5% increase will be 0.05 multiplied by $1,000 plus the current salary, resulting in $1,050.

How do you counter a raise offer? ›

How to negotiate a raise
  1. Research salary data for your position. ...
  2. Consider the company's financial performance. ...
  3. Reflect on your achievements. ...
  4. Decide on your target range for the raise. ...
  5. Prepare your presentation. ...
  6. Practice negotiating with friends or family. ...
  7. Schedule your meeting. ...
  8. Start with a higher figure.
Dec 12, 2022

Can you lose a job offer by negotiating salary? ›

It is simple: you can lose a job offer by negotiating salary if you make unreasonable demands or by going below what is expected of the request.

How do you ask for a raise when you are underpaid? ›

If the research you've done shows that you're underpaid, Krawcheck recommends setting up a meeting with your boss. Remind them of your recent wins, and then say, "I've done some research, and it appears I'm underpaid by x percent." Then stop talking. "We always want to fill the awkward moment, but just wait," she says.

What is the average salary increase for 2023? ›

A fall survey by research firm WTW had average estimated salary increases rising to 4.6% in 2023 from actual pay rises of 4.2% last year. A Conference Board poll highlighted a similar trend, with budgets for salary increases rising to 4.3% from 4.1% last year.

How to make 6 figures as a teacher? ›

How to make more money as a teacher
  1. Find opportunities to earn supplemental money at your school. ...
  2. Do research on your location's pay rates. ...
  3. Earn an advanced degree. ...
  4. Take advantage of professional development opportunities. ...
  5. Transition to an administrative career. ...
  6. Offer tutoring options.
Jan 19, 2023

Is the teacher pay gap wider than ever? ›

The gap between the higher wages of teachers compared with all workers widened to nearly 26 percent before narrowing to just 5.7 percent in 2015. The average weekly wage for all workers increased from $891 to $1,034 from 1996 to 2015—while teachers' wages decreased $30 per week, from $1,122 to $1,092.

Is teachers pay teachers a good way to make money? ›

The first question everyone asks is: “can I really make money selling on Teachers Pay Teachers?” The answer is YES. It is a great way to start up a small business and earn extra income for teachers. I won't sugarcoat it though, you will have to put a lot of hard work into it.

What city has the highest paid teachers? ›

In 2021, the average K-12 public school teacher nationwide was paid $65,090. Average teacher pay was the highest in New York at $87,738, followed by Massachusetts and California.

What is the highest paying school district in the United States? ›

#1. Scarsdale Public Schools, Scarsdale, NY ($107,100)

This small district recognizes the value of their teachers which is evidenced by the average salaries landing at the top of any district in the country.

What teacher makes the most money? ›


When you are looking for the best-paid teaching jobs for your area of interest or specialized skill, then you may consider working as a professor in a college or university. A college professor prepares course material, teaches students in a classroom environment, and grades student work.

Why overworked teachers are quitting? ›

The survey points to multiple reasons for unhappiness, and those teachers who are considering leaving the profession cited burnout from stress (57%) and political attacks on teachers (40%), followed by a heavy workload compounded by staff shortages.

Is teaching a high stressful job? ›

Ultimately, many aspects of workplace stress stem from anxiety about being effective at work. Teachers, like many other professionals, want to be effective in their jobs and suffer from increased stress, anxiety, and depression when they know they aren't at their best or are not receiving needed support.

What is an overworked teacher? ›

Teachers overworking occurs when they cannot achieve a balance between the many demands they have to face: professional, social, family and they feel that they cannot give enough time to any of them. They report experiencing very high stress related to overworking.

Can teachers negotiate a higher salary? ›

Some teaching salaries have room for negotiation, while teachers in other jobs agree to employment contracts at rates determined by a salary chart without any room for negotiations. Instructors working in the private industry have the widest range for salary discussions.

Why do teachers make good employees? ›

Teachers present information in a compelling and thoughtful way. Don't hesitate to put them in front of a crowd. They make their students better communicators by helping them think critically, organize their thoughts, and refine their messages.

What influences a teachers salary? ›

The impact on your pay depends on your district and point in your career at which you earn your credits. Your California teacher salary is largely determined by where you teach. The compensation for instructors with similar credentials and experience can vary widely depending on their region and school district.

What state are teachers paid the least? ›

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.

What is the national average teacher's salary in the US? ›

Average public school teacher salary
Average public school teacher salary$66.4k$65.29k

What is the average teacher pay in US states? ›

How much does a Public School Teacher make in California? The average Public School Teacher salary in California is $62,301 as of May 01, 2023, but the range typically falls between $52,027 and $75,979.

What is the symbol of a good teacher? ›

The tradition of giving an apple to a teacher started in the 1700s before governments around the world paid for the education of its people.

Why do you leave an apple on a teachers desk? ›

While other produce was sometimes used as payment, teachers preferred the apple. Some say it's because of its symbolism as the fruit of knowledge. Another theory is that apples back then were quite bitter and usually pressed to make hard cider.

Do students still give teachers apples? ›

Though the idea persists in pop culture, teachers rarely receive apples from their students on the first day of school in modern times. If you're looking for a way to show your appreciation for your teacher, here are some gifts you'll find outside the produce aisle.

What percentage of teachers quit in 5 years? ›

Up to 30% of new teachers are quitting their job within 5 years of teaching. 13% of teachers reported quitting their job due to not getting paid as much as they should have been paid.

What percentage of teachers quit? ›

Nearly 37 percent of educators working with pre-K or high school students plan to leave, compared with just 28 percent of those working in elementary and middle schools.

How many new teachers quit? ›

Nearly 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years.

Are teachers paid based on student performance? ›

Performance-based pay systems offer teachers a reward based on meeting set performance measures typically tied to student performance. These measures are based on educational research and are a set of best practices intended to boost overall student outcomes.

How do you rate a teacher's performance? ›

Teacher evaluation matters
  1. Formal education and continuing education.
  2. Experience in the classroom and the education sector.
  3. The ability to foster positive interactions with students.
  4. The ability to create a positive classroom environment.
  5. Successfully using homework and assessments to determine student proficiency.
Aug 8, 2022

Why are teachers paid less than athletes? ›

Most of the income sports players make are from revenue, such as tickets or merchandise. On top of that, game tickets can cost hundreds of dollars, whereas every state offers free education until a certain age. This makes paying teachers harder as most of the money comes from the state, not from outside revenue.

What are the disadvantages of merit raises? ›

Merit pay plans may create problems in employee relationships, problems in morale related to jealousy, fear, favoritism, undesirable competition, and job insecurity. Merit programs tend to develop divisive and competitive attitudes rather than cooperation among employees.

Should teachers have a higher pay? ›

Raising teacher salaries can help to improve the interest in the industry overall and improve the quality of the workforce. It can also help to keep teachers in the classrooms. Many teachers have reported being dissatisfied with their jobs because they have to work multiple side jobs to pay their bills.

Is merit pay a salary increase? ›

Merit pay, also known as pay-for-performance, is defined as a raise in pay based on a set of criteria set by the employer. This usually involves the employer conducting a review meeting with the employee to discuss the employee's work performance during a certain time period.

When was the best time to ask for a raise? ›

As long as you've been at your company for more than three months, and you haven't received a raise in the previous three months, making a significant achievement is a great time to ask for a raise.

When should I ask for a 20% raise? ›

The best time to ask for a raise is when your work has been going well, your boss is in a good mood, and you've been in your current position for at least six months with good performance (and a good performance review or annual review if applicable). All of those factors will boost your chances of hearing “yes.”

What time of week is best to ask for a raise? ›

It shouldn't come as much of a shock that Mondays — or the first day back from a vacation — aren't generally the best times to ask for a raise. On the contrary, if you want your boss to consider your ask, pitch it on a Friday afternoon.

When should you offer a raise? ›

When to Ask for a Raise
  1. Your Employer Posted Strong Quarterly Earnings. ...
  2. You Aced a Performance Review. ...
  3. You Made a Significant Achievement. ...
  4. You Find Out You're Being Underpaid. ...
  5. You Took On More Job Responsibilities. ...
  6. You Received a Job Offer from Another Company. ...
  7. You Just Hit the One-Year Mark. ...
  8. You Received a Promotion.

What not to say when asking for a raise? ›

  1. "I Deserve a Raise Because I Have Been Here 'X' Amount of Years." ...
  2. "I Feel That…" ...
  3. "X Is Making More than Me." ...
  4. "I'm Overdue for a Raise." ...
  5. "I Will Leave if I Don't Receive a Raise of X Amount." ...
  6. "I'm Going to Need to Go to the Competition." ...
  7. "I Need More Money Because I'm in Debt."
Jan 27, 2023

How long is too long without a raise? ›

You should work for at least one to two years without a raise. On average, waiting any longer than two years is too long, and working a job for three years without a raise is unacceptable.

Should I quit if I don't get a raise? ›

Deciding when to leave your job because of a lack of pay raises is a decision you should make when you feel ready. If you've been with a company for more than two or more years, have showed good work ethic and have asked for a raise directly but still haven't received one, then it might be time to move on.

Is there a bad time to ask for a raise? ›

You may realize you were too eager to accept a job offer and took a lower salary than you deserve. However, it's probably not a good idea to ask for more money when you've just started working. Six months on the job is the bare minimum for you to be able to show that your value to the company.

How do you counter a salary offer? ›

  1. Do your research. If you haven't already researched salary ranges for your position, now is the time to do so. ...
  2. Consider non-salary benefits. ...
  3. Know your value. ...
  4. Take time to craft your counteroffer. ...
  5. Submit all your requests at once. ...
  6. Negotiate. ...
  7. Prepare for their response. ...
  8. Make your decision.
May 3, 2023

Why is my paycheck less after a raise? ›

Raises are given on a gross pay basis. You may have previously been making $50,000 per year as your gross salary. Even though you make $50,000 in gross pay, your net pay isn't $50,000. It will be smaller thanks to deductions and withholding.

What percent raise is normal? ›

Companies typically offer employees a 3-5% pay increase on average. Even if this range doesn't seem like a reasonable raise to you, keep in mind that consistent wage increases can add up over time, providing you with a higher income than what you received when you started at the company.

What is better a raise or a bonus? ›

Raises are a permanent increase in payroll expenses; bonuses are a variable cost and therefore give business owners greater financial flexibility when business is down. Bonuses can be tied to sales or production volumes to incentivize employees and help companies boost their profits during peak times.

Should I get another offer before asking for a raise? ›

Try to get a second offer

If one job offer has a higher salary and better benefits, you can ask the other to increase the salary or provide you with better benefits. Instead of demanding this, start it as a conversation with the recruiter or hiring manager.


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