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It Pays to Teach

Teaching is a career that requires a real commitment, but it comes with real rewards. Learn about the compensation package you can expect.

Did you know most people underestimate how much teachers take home? Plus, in most states, you’ll receive comprehensive benefits, to help care for you and your family.

In 2021, the average teacher salary was $66,745, up 2 percent from the year before. (1) Keep in mind, that's the *national* average — but teacher salaries vary widely from state to state, and region to region! Let's take a closer look.

How much will I earn?

A high school math teacher leads a lesson at the whiteboard. He smiles a student raising their hand.

In most sectors, it's uncommon to know exactly when you’ll get your next raise. It can be frustrating to negotiate with management or be in the dark about your performance.

Teaching is different. In most school districts, you’ll have access to a clear salary schedule, so you can see exactly how much you can expect to earn, year over year. Your pay could depend on factors like your:  

  • Degree (bachelor’s, master’s or higher)
  • Subject area (Shortage area teachers may earn extra bonuses or pay!)
  • Years of experience
  • Grade level
  • Performance

It’s best to check with specific school districts you’re considering teaching to learn more about how their salary schedules work. You can do an online search for the district name and the phrase “salary schedule” to get started.

Can I increase my pay?

A middle school choir teacher laughs with her students as she hands out sheet music.

Yes! Each school district has its own pathways to increase your salary — but here are some of the most common: 

  • Teach a shortage area subject. Many districts offer extra stipends for teachers in high-need subject areas, like math, science, bilingual and special education. 
  • Earn an advanced credential. Many districts offer higher pay to teachers with advanced degrees (like a master’s or doctorate), or those who earn their National Board Certification
  • Lead an extracurricular. You can earn stipends if you lead certain extracurriculars, such as yearbook, choir or athletics. Stipends vary depending on your activity and district, but pay often ranges from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

What benefits can I expect?

As a teacher, you'll usually get comprehensive health insurance — plus a retirement plan, vacation time and more.

More Perks

Check out these ideas to reduce your expenses even more!


1. Educator Pay Data, National Education Association. April 24, 2023. https://www.nea.org/resource-library/educator-pay-and-student-spending-how-does-your-state-rank