These States Offer the Best and Worst Pay for Teachers

Here’s where a teaching career pays well — and where it doesn’t.

Teachers are undeniably the backbone of the educational system, but unfortunately, pay isn’t always what one might expect. Although nobody typically enters the teaching profession to strike it rich, one might expect a particular income for his educational level.

Based on the results of a GOBankingRates study, there might be a solution to the teacher salary problem: You can move to a higher-paying state. That doesn’t always mean the grass is greener, though, particularly for states with a higher cost of living. But, it should give you a solid foundation to understand salary expectations.

Click here to read about the perks of being a teacher.

The study compared teacher salaries in every state by averaging the mean wages of elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics report from May, 2017. If you’re looking for a new teaching job and want to know how much teachers make, the results of this study could help guide your decisions.

How the States Compare

One takeaway from the study is that the highest-paying teacher opportunities are typically found in the Northeast. The cost of living in the Northeast, though, could potentially knock the average teacher’s salary down a notch. For instance, New York is one of the most expensive places to live, but teachers also make the most on average — more than $80,000. California is the only West Coast state to rank in the top 10 highest paying states, but it also has a high cost of living.

A few Midwest and southern states tended to have lower incomes for teachers across the country. Surprisingly, Florida — which is the third-largest by U.S. population — had the 11th lowest average pay. Although a few Southwestern states had lower pay, Arizona is the only one in the bottom 10 when compared to its neighboring states.

See: The Salary Increase You Need to Live in 15 Major US Cities

Teachers’ pay can easily mean a $40,000 difference depending on whether you work in Oklahoma or New York. Here are the 50 best and worst states for teacher pay, with No. 1 being the worst:

1. Oklahoma: $41,483
2. South Dakota: $42,023
3. Mississippi: $45,277
4. Arizona: $45,313
5. West Virginia: $45,697
6. North Carolina: $45,917
7. Arkansas: $49,410
8. Louisiana: $49,420
9. Alabama: $49,487
10. Idaho: $49,743
11. Florida: $49,973
12. Kansas: $50,437
13. Tennessee: $50,590
14. Indiana: $51,463
15. South Carolina: $52,290
16. Missouri: $52,347
17. Montana: $52,603
18. North Dakota: $52,790
19. Maine: $53,070
20. Colorado: $53,210
21. Kentucky: $54,080
22. Iowa: $54,587
23. Utah: $55,460
24. Georgia: $56,103
25. New Mexico: $56,613
26. Nevada: $56,803
27. Texas: $57,087
28. Nebraska: $57,103
29. Wisconsin: $57,607
30. New Hampshire: $59,073
31. Wyoming: $59,387
32. Hawaii: $59,507
33. Ohio: $60,203
34. Vermont: $60,533
35. Delaware: $62,260
36. Michigan: $63,417
37. Washington: $63,477
38. Minnesota: $64,520
39. Pennsylvania: $65,533
40. Illinois: $65,877
41. Rhode Island: $67,050
42. Maryland: $67,173
43. Virginia: $68,707
44. Oregon: $69,643
45. New Jersey: $72,460
46. Massachusetts: $75,720
47. California: $76,523
48. Connecticut: $78,567
49. Alaska: $80,627
50. New York: $81,613

Click through to read about the salary you need to afford the average home in your state.

Methodology: GOBankingRates determined teacher’s pay in every state by analyzing the mean wage of elementary, middle, and secondary (high school) teachers and calculated the average of those three salaries. Data is sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.