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Where are the Best Paying Teaching Jobs?

September 18, 2018

The population of the United States might be shifting to the South and the West, but the best paying teaching jobs continue to be in the Northeast. With the exception of California, most of the best paying teaching jobs are in the Northeast states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. While some other states like Alaska occasionally crack the top of teacher salary lists, these northeastern states continue to dominate most lists.  

The differences can be large. For example, the above states typically have annual salaries for teachers around $20,000 more than highly populated southern states such as Texas and Florida.  

 For this article, we’ve set aside factors such as support from administration and the overall quality of the school systems (although Massachusetts scores highly in these, as well). Here we are only evaluating the potential for teachers’ salaries.  All salary figures are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from May 2017. 

High School Teachers 

Across the nation, high school teachers earned a median salary of $59,170 in May 2017.  

Massachusetts ranked near the top, with a median salary of $76,170. The states with the best-paying teaching jobs were: 

  • Alaska ($85,420) 
  • New York ($83,360) 
  • Connecticut ($78,810) 
  • California ($77,390) 
  • New Jersey ($76,430) 

 Some states with the most teachers continue to offer lower wages. For example, the BLS lists Texas as employing the most high school teachers, with 113,120. However, the median pay in the state is lower than the national average, at $57,830. 

The situation is somewhat better in Ohio, which has the fourth-most high school teachers of any state. The annual pay there is $60,810. 

Elementary School Teachers 

For elementary school teachers, the median annual pay nationwide was $56,900 in May 2017.  Massachusetts again ranked in the top 10, with an annual median salary for elementary school teachers of $76,590.  

The top-ranked states for elementary school teacher pay were: 

  • New York ($80,540) 
  • California ($77,990) 
  • Connecticut ($77,990) 
  • Alaska ($77,030) 
  • District of Columbia ($76,950) 

 Again, states with rapidly growing populations have many more teaching jobs, but less pay. Texas has 140,310 elementary school teachers who make a median salary of $56,760, lower than the national average. In Florida, the median pay for elementary school teachers is $48,340. 


For those wishing to work with the youngest students, Massachusetts offers the fourth-highest pay in the country at $71,790. The national average is $54,230. 

The other states in the top 5 include: 

  • New York ($77,440) 
  • Connecticut ($76,110) 
  • Alaska ($73,340)
  • Oregon ($69,330) 

There are exceptions, but Massachusetts and the rest of the northeast continue to rank at or near the top when it comes to the best paying teaching jobs. For those seeking a degree in Massachusetts, the job you want might not be very far from where you are right now.