10 Best States To Be a Teacher (With Salaries and Benefits)

Updated August 3, 2023

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There is a woman writing on a whiteboard there is also a list with the title "10 best states to be a teacher" and these states are listed:

1. New York
2. California
3. Massachusetts
4. District of Columbia
5. Connecticut
6. New Jersey
7. Alaska
8. Oregon
9. Washington
10. Virginia

If you're starting a career in education, researching compensation, benefits and job outlook in various areas of the country could help you find the right role for you. Many states offer incentives and competitive salaries for teachers, especially in periods of high demand. By looking at which states offer the best opportunities, you can decide which areas to target during your teacher job search.

In this article, we review the top 10 best states for teachers to work in, discuss the job outlook for teachers and explain why it's important to choose the right state in which to teach.

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10 best states to be a teacher

Below are the 10 best states to work as a teacher according to data from Indeed salaries. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries:

1. District of Columbia

The average salary for a teacher in the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) is $65,428 per year. Washington D.C. provides several incentives and benefits for its teachers, such as:

  • IMPACTplus, a bonus program based on performance and merit

  • Loan cancelation and deferment options

  • Employer assistance for first-time home buyers

  • Professional development programs

The average salary per specialty is:

  • Preschool teachers$56,084 per year

  • Kindergarten teachers: $56,729 per year

  • Elementary school teachers$59,736 per year

  • High school teachers$63,381 per year

Related: Early Childhood Teachers and Salaries by State

2. Alaska

The average salary for a teacher in Alaska is $64,175 per year. With 54 school districts, there's a high demand for teachers to help target a low student-to-teacher ratio. This demand could contribute to higher salaries. Public school teachers in Alaska are also members of the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS), the state's retirement benefits program.

Here's the average salary per specialty in Alaska:

  • Preschool teachers: $47,685 per year

  • Kindergarten teachers: $50,783 per year

  • Elementary school teachers: $64,814 per year

  • High school teachers: $45,030 per year

Related: How to Become a Teacher in 4 Steps

3. Rhode Island

The average salary for a teacher in Rhode Island is $58,696 per year. Rhode Island also offers signing bonuses to eligible new teachers seeking public school jobs. There are 66 public school districts in Rhode Island.

Here's the average salary per specialty for teachers in Rhode Island:

  • Preschool teachers: $49,295 per year

  • Kindergarten teachers: $43,573 per year

  • Elementary school teachers: $56,538 per year

  • High school teachers: $59,337 per year

Related: Private School Teacher Salary: How It Differs From Public

4. Maryland

The average salary for a teacher in Maryland is $58,340 per year. There are 1,427 public schools in Maryland, and benefits for teachers in Maryland include:

  • National Board Certified Teacher Incentive Program, which boosts salaries by between $10,000 and $17,000 per year

  • Teachers' pension program

  • Potential tax credits

Here are the national average salaries by specialty:

  • Preschool teachers: $49,458 per year

  • Kindergarten teachers: $39,477 per year

  • Elementary school teachers: $44,401 per year

  • High school teachers: $51,413 per year

5. New York

The average salary for a teacher in New York is $58,166 per year. With 731 school districts, the state of New York has a wide variety of educational institutions where teachers can find work. There are also opportunities for competitive salaries and professional development initiatives that allow teachers to expand their knowledge in a specialty area.

Here's the average salary per specialty for New York-based teachers:

  • Preschool teachers: $51,906 per year

  • Kindergarten teachers: $45,501 per year

  • Elementary school teachers: $57,764 per year

  • High school teachers: $63,074 per year

6. New Mexico

The average salary for a teacher in New Mexico is $54,582 per year. Benefits of teaching in New Mexico include:

  • Progressive salary structure depending on experience level

  • Financial aid for teacher training

  • Loan repayment and forgiveness options

  • Scholarship opportunities for National Board Certification

Here's the average teacher salary by specialty in New Mexico:

  • Preschool teachers: $44,659 per year

  • Kindergarten teachers: $56,262 per year

  • Elementary school teachers: $58,344 per year

  • High school teachers: $60,735 per year

Related: Teaching Elementary vs High School: Primary Differences

7. Virginia

The average salary for a teacher in Virginia is $54,538 per year. Virginia's Department of Education provides a variety of incentives to educators, including:

  • Loan forgiveness opportunities after five years of teaching

  • Opportunities to participate in instruction committees to guide the direction of coursework and learning objectives

  • Tuition assistance and financial aid opportunities

Here's the average salary per specialty for Virginia teachers:

  • Preschool teachers: $44,903 per year

  • Kindergarten teachers: $30,619 per year

  • Elementary school teachers: $49,948 per year

  • High school teachers: $53,189 per year

8. Texas

The average salary for a teacher in Texas is $54,375 per year. Texas also offers the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA), a compensation program that rewards eligible educators in areas with great needs, like rural areas.

Salary averages for Texas teachers per specialty are:

  • Preschool teachers: $40,868 per year

  • Kindergarten teachers: $35,827 per year

  • Elementary school teachers: $53,164 per year

  • High school teachers: $55,415 per year

Related: 6 States in Need of Teachers (Plus How To Get Certified)

9. Colorado

The average salary for a teacher in Colorado is $52,235 per year. The benefits of working as a teacher in Colorado include:

  • Tuition reimbursement opportunities

  • Paid professional development options

  • Paid fellowships for teachers in rural areas

  • Housing assistance for Colorado home-buyers

  • Loan forgiveness opportunities

Below are the salary averages for Colorado teachers according to specialty:

  • Preschool teachers: $53,437 per year

  • Kindergarten teachers: $47,984 per year

  • Elementary school teachers: $50,138 per year

  • High school teachers: $52,621 per year

Related: What Kind of Teacher Should I Be? Choosing a Teaching Specialty

10. Nevada

The average salary for a teacher in Nevada is $51,847 per year. Nevada offers teachers incentives such as loan forgiveness opportunities and education grants for teachers serving students in high-need fields in low-income areas.

Here are the salary averages for Nevada teachers:

  • Preschool teachers: $41,953 per year

  • Kindergarten teachers: $57,801 per year

  • Elementary school teachers: $58,522 per year

  • High school teachers: $55,634 per year

Related: How To Become a Teacher in Nevada (With a List of 5 Steps)

Job outlook for teachers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in education, training and library sciences may grow by 7% by 2031. Here's a breakdown of BLS predictions for various teaching paths:

  • Preschool teachers: 15% increase by 2031

  • Kindergarten and elementary teachers: 4% increase by 2031

  • High school teachers: 5% increase by 2031

  • Middle school teachers: 4% increase by 2031

  • Special education teachers: 5% increase by 2031

States with the highest employment for preschool teachers

According to the BLS, the states with the highest employment levels for preschool teachers are:

  • California

  • Texas

  • Florida

  • Illinois

  • New York

States with the highest employment for kindergarten teachers

The states with the highest employment levels for kindergarten teachers are:

  • Texas

  • California

  • Florida

  • New York

  • New Jersey

States with the highest employment for middle school teachers

The states with the highest employment levels for middle school teachers are:

  • Texas

  • California

  • New York

  • Florida

  • Pennsylvania

States with the highest employment for high school teachers

The states with the highest employment levels for high school teachers are:

  • Texas

  • California

  • New York

  • Ohio

  • Pennsylvania

States with the highest employment for special education teachers

The states with the highest employment levels for special education teachers are:

  • California

  • Florida

  • Texas

  • Illinois

  • Virginia

Related: What's the Job Outlook for Teachers in 2023

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Why is it important to research the best states to be a teacher?

Here are some benefits of doing your research while searching for teaching jobs:

  • Helps you maximize your earnings: Through research, you can compare salary ranges and determine which state provides you with the highest pay relative to the cost of living.

  • Allows you to narrow your job search: If you're open to moving, looking at which states offer the most opportunities can help you decide where to apply for work.

  • Gives you insights into which states offer the most specialty jobs: Doing research can help you determine the best states to pursue a teaching specialty, like special education or early childhood.

  • Helps you plan your education: Many states offer incentives like certification bonuses, loan forgiveness or tuition reimbursement, so learning about these benefits before earning your degree may help you plan your educational path.

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