NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How Much are Teachers Being Paid?

August 9, 1999

Higher pay for teachers is a priority and perennial issue for teachers unions. But experts say that such an action alone will not solve the nation's education problems. So many other factors are involved: class size, curriculum, early childhood learning, bureaucracy in the education process, lack of competition for public schools, discipline, homework and so forth.

  • Average starting pay for public school teachers nationwide is $25,735 -- ranging from $19,146 in North Dakota to $33,162 in Alaska.
  • The average salary for teachers nationwide is $39,347.
  • However, the most experienced teachers in some affluent suburbs make more than $90,000 a year.

By comparison, the average annual salary for attorneys in 1998 was $71,530: for engineers, $64,489: for systems analysts, $63,072; and for accountants, $45,919.

The figures are from the American Federation of Teachers.

As for private schools, the pay is often less than public school teachers get -- but the students there often outperform children sent to public schools. At the nation's Catholic schools, pay averaged $22,000 last year -- 45 percent below the public school average. At other private schools, teachers averaged about $35,000 -- 11 percent below public school levels.

Source: Steven Greenhouse, "Adding Up the Impact of Raising Salaries," New York Times, August 8, 1999.


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