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Money Lessons: Highest Teacher Salaries in the USA, Part 2 – Elementary School

Some elementary school teachers specialize in computers.

Some elementary school teachers specialize in computers.

This is a continuation of a series that begins with Money Lessons: Highest Teacher Salaries in the USA, Part 1 – Kindergarten.

Elementary school teachers instruct students in grades 1 through 6 or 8, or from around ages 6 to 11 or 13. They typically teach the same class of children in different subjects, though one teacher can also teach several classes in a specialized subject such as art, science or physical education. Their salaries can differ according to employer or location. All information is from the US Department of Labor, and does not include vocational or special education teachers.

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin

Salaries and Employers

Teacher salaries in elementary school run as follows:

  • The 1.48 million elementary school teachers in the US earn a mean annual wage of $54,330, with median lows at $34,390 and median highs of $80,140.
  • The biggest employers are elementary and secondary schools, where 1.47 million professionals earn a mean $54,360 yearly. Second on the list are religious organizations, where 2,780 positions are paid $42,880 yearly. They are followed by individual and family services, where 1,360 teachers receive annual pay of $56,270.
  • The highest teacher salaries are in colleges, universities and professional schoosl, where 170 positions receive mean pay of $56,650 per year. They are followed by wages in individual and family services, and in general medical and surgical hospitals. The 40 teachers here get a mean $55,840 annually.

Locations of the Best Teacher Salaries

Teacher salaries can differ according to location.

  • High-population states boast the greatest numbers of elementary schools teachers, with California leading the way at 176,110 positions, earning a mean $63,010 annually. Texas follows with 163,240 jobs receiving $51,090 per year. New York ranks third with 89,850 professionals earning annual wages at a mean $67,940.
  • The state with the best pay is Alaska, where teachers get a mean $69,130 per year. It is followed by New York, and then Connecticut with 17,770 making mean wages of $66,500 annually.
  • For cities, the highest employment follows the population. New York City, the nation’s most populous metro area, has the most jobs with 51,640 elementary school teachers getting a mean $69,040 per year. Chicago ranks second with 50,600 positions earning a mean $65,090 annually, followed by Los Angeles, with 45,010 teachers getting $60,310 yearly.
  • As for pay, Nassau-Suffolk Counties in New York offers the highest wages of any metro area at $86,440 per year for 14,580 elementary school teachers. Waterbury, Connecticut, is second at $76,640 annually for 840 positions, followed by Kingston, New York, where 930 professionals get $72,460 yearly.
  • In nonmetropolitan areas, rural Kansas shows the most jobs, with 5,750 elementary school teachers earning a mean $39,440 annually, which is less than the national average. The best pay is in the Eastern Sierra Region of California, where 240 positions receive a $65,890 per year.


Job growth for elementary school teachers will run at 16 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is better than average. Teacher salaries should grow at the same faster-than-average rate. Those with expertise in math, science, bilingual education and foreign languages should have the best prospects. Because minority populations are growing, recruiting of minority teachers will also increase.


Other articles in the teacher salaries series include the following:

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If you’re a teacher, feel free to add more information about teacher salaries in the Comments box below.


Aurelio Locsin (author) from Orange County, CA on February 18, 2012:

Great profession, lousy pay. I hope you don't get laid off.

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on February 17, 2012:

Another well-compiled hub. Though once again, my state doesn't even register on the "mean lows" on this page. It's disheartening to be one of the lowest paid teaching-professionals in the country after six years of service. No raises in sight; in fact, I might get laid off at the end of this year. Yep, it's a great profession. Voted up and interesting.

Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on July 05, 2011:

I was a teacher for three decades, now retired. This was of great interst to me.

Welcome to HUB writing. I enjoyed this very much. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. Keep up the great HUBS. I must give this an “Up ONE and Useful.” I'm now your fan! RJ

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