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Which States Pay Teachers the Most (and Least)?

Written by: Brenda Iasevoli
Published on: Nov 3, 2017

Alaska and New York pay teachers nearly double the salaries of those working in Mississippi and Oklahoma, says a new study by GoBankingRates.

According to the finance website, teachers in Alaska and New York are paid each year on average $77,843 and $76,953, respectively. By contrast, the averages in Mississippi and Oklahoma are $42,043 and $42,647, respectively. To be fair, many of the states with higher teacher pay also have higher costs of living. (You can use this tool to compare costs of living in different cities and states across the country.)

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And a salary on the high end doesn't necessarily mean easy living. The authors show, for instance, that the average salary in California of $72,050 "is just a tad under the amount of money needed to live comfortably in [the state]." What's more, a starting teacher's salary would be much less, closer to $40,000 per year, according to the California Department of Education.

Many of the states with the lowest salaries are working to increase teacher pay, often to combat teacher shortages. Lawmakers in Oklahoma say raising teacher pay is a top priority. Under a bill filed by state Senator David Holt, Oklahoma teachers would receive a $10,000 pay raise by 2021. Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona has also recently made a big push to boost teacher salaries across the state.

The average teacher salaries in 50 states (not including the District of Columbia) were calculated using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The authors averaged the mean salaries of elementary, middle, and high school teachers to get the average salary in each state. The calculations did not include the salaries of special education teachers. Here are the 10 states where teachers get paid the most and the 10 states where teachers earn the least.

The 10 states where teachers get paid the most:

1. Alaska: $77,843

2. New York: $76,593

3. Connecticut: $75,867

4. California: $72,050

5. Massachusetts: $71,587

6. New Jersey: $70,700

7. Rhode Island: $67,533

8. Maryland: $65,257

9. Illinois: $65,153

10. Virginia: $63,493

 The 10 states where teachers get paid the least:

1. Mississippi: $42,043

2. Oklahoma: $42,647

3. South Dakota: $43,200

4. North Carolina: $43,587

5. Arizona: $43,800

6. West Virginia: $45,477

7. Arkansas: $47,053

8. Idaho: $47,063

9. Kansas: $47,127

10. Louisiana: $48,587