For around seven hours each day, teachers across the United States are in charge of making sure students learn to read, write, and figure out that 2 + 2 = 4. Their job description gets a little more nuanced as students grow older, but it’s no less important as the basics since English literature and geometry eventually prepare them for college or a career.
Any teacher will tell you that their day doesn’t end when the final bell rings then it’s on to their own versions of homework in the evening. It’s why teachers landed on our list of jobs that are more difficult than you might think.
Each year the National Education Association the largest teacher’s union in the country releases a comprehensive report about how states use their money for education. A part of this report includes information about teacher salaries broken down by state. The most recent report, released by the union in May 2016, includes salary estimates,
The highest-paying states all had average salaries that were higher than the national average. Though the rankings change from year to year slightly, the highest-paying states for teachers stay roughly the same. Here are the top 10 states for teacher salaries, based on the 2016 estimates.
States That Pay Teachers the Highest Salaries
Pennsylvania has been the 10th-highest paying state for teachers for three years running. According to the EPI report, teachers in the state earn 87.1% of the salary that other college graduates do, the 7th best in the nation.
When adjusted for the cost of living, Pennsylvania teachers also make the third-highest salary, according to a WalletHub analysis. From the 2013-14 school year to the estimates for the 2015-16 year, teachers in Pennsylvania saw an average wage increase of 2.03%, just below the 2.53% average increase among the top 10 best-paying states.
Average teacher salary: $64,991
9. Rhode Island
Rhode Island was in the No. 8 spot for two years but fell to No. 9 for the 2015-16 school year. However, teachers in Rhode Island earn 95.8% of the salary that other college graduates in the state do. That’s second-best in the nation, only behind Wyoming. Intriguingly enough, Rhode Island scored poorly in the WalletHub analysis, ranking at No. 42, with particularly poor results for the job opportunities and competition category.
Average teacher salary: $66,197
Maryland teachers saw an average salary increase of 3% from the 2013-14 school year to the 2015-16 year, more than Rhode Island’s increase of 2.32%. With a comparable salary, it’s likely why the two states swapped rankings in the most current year, with Maryland’s salaries slightly edging out that of Rhode Island’s.
Average teacher salary: $66,482
he U.S. residents living closest to the North Pole still need to get a decent education, and Alaska evidently pays its teachers well to stay. Alaska teachers earn 93.8% of the salary that other college-educated professionals do, the third-best ratio in the nation. Salaries for teachers have risen 2.36% in the state over the past three school years.
Average teacher salary: $67,443
6. New Jersey
Though teacher salaries in New Jersey have risen just 1.6% over the past three school years — the lowest rate among the top 10 — it still ranks as the best state for teachers according to WalletHub. New Jersey teachers earn 86.5% of the salary that other degree-holders earn in the state, good enough to place at the No. 9 spot in the EPI’s report.
Many of the top-paying states in the nation are located in the Northeast, and Connecticut continues that trend. It has consistently been the fifth-highest paying state in the nation, with a 2.03% wage increase over the past three school years. Highly ranked academic and work environments were enough to land the state at the No. 10 spot in WalletHub’s analysis as well.
Average teacher salary: $72,013
Breaking with geography, California is the only western state in the contiguous U.S. with a high-paying salary. Average salaries rose $1,446 from the 2013-14 school year to an average of $71,396, good enough to represent a 2.03% increase. Teachers in California earn 85.8% of the salary that other college graduates do, sadly good enough for the No. 10 spot in the nation.
Average teacher salary: $72,842
3. Washington, D.C.
Teaching in a district in our nation’s capital is a notoriously tough gig, according to WalletHub’s analysis, but teachers are compensated well for their efforts. Teachers in the area have seen a raise on average of 3.62% over three school years. That ranks as the second-best among teacher increases, even though the nationwide trend for salaries is a 3% increase every year.
Average teacher salary: $75,810
Our tour of high Northeast teacher salaries continues in Massachusetts, which has shifted between the No. 2 and No. 3 spots for the past three school years. An average raise of 4.24% over that time — the highest among the top 10 states — was enough to solidify its place as the second-highest paying state in the nation for the 2015-16 school year. Massachusetts also ranked at the No. 2 spot in WalletHub’s report, with high ranks for job opportunities and work environment.
Average teacher salary: $76,981
1. New York
New York is known for its educational prowess, and the teacher salaries reflect that. The state has easily held the No. 1 spot for the past three school years, often $1,000 or more above the next-closest state average. Even a modest 2.03% increase over those years has kept the state comfortably ahead of other state’s teacher salaries.
According to the EPI report, New York teachers earn 91.3% of the salary other college graduates in the state do, the fifth-highest ratio in the nation. However, New York was only at the No. 7 ranking for WalletHub’s analysis, with a slightly lower work environment ranking than Massachusetts.