our everyday life

The Average Teacher's Salary Plus Benefits in the US

by Candice Mancini

Teacher salaries and benefits have been contentious topics of debate between teachers' unions and the public. Whereas unions have long argued that teacher pay is too low, 2011 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics disclosed higher numbers than otherwise believed, especially when accounting for retirement and other benefits. According to the BLS, in 2012, median teacher salary and benefits averaged between $68,613.60 and $72,666.

The Benefit Debate

In 2011, statistics published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics caused the public to question the long-held belief that teachers were underpaid. As reported by "Forbes," the statistics revealed that public school teachers earned over twice as much as private-sector employees in combined hourly wages and benefits: $56.59 versus $28.24. Public school teachers also earned more than other state and local government workers, who averaged $40.76 per hour in wages and benefits. "Education Next" reported that total teacher benefits added 32 percent to salaries.

Elementary Teachers

Median salaries for elementary teachers were $53,400 in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using "Education Next's" estimate that benefits added 32 percent more to salaries, this amount equaled $17,088, for a combined salary and benefits of $70,488. Pay varied widely by state, with a mean salary of $74,310 in Rhode Island; $71,270 in New York; $69,690 in California; and $67,110 in Alaska. On the flip side, 12 states paid a mean salary between $31,650 and $47,290, including Montana, Arizona, North Carolina and Oklahoma.

Middle School Teachers

The median salary for middle school teachers was $53,430 in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using Education Next's estimate that benefits added 32 percent more to salaries, this amount equaled $17,097.60, for a combined salary and benefits of $70,527.60. Pay varied by state, with a mean salary of $74,550 in New York; $68,680 in California; $68,400 in Rhode Island; and $68,190 in Connecticut. Meanwhile, 10 states paid a mean salary between $22,850 and $47,600, including South Dakota, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

High School Teachers

Median salaries for high school teachers were $55,050 in 2012, reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using Education Next's estimate that benefits added 32 percent more to salaries, this amount equaled $17,616, for a combined salary and benefits of $72,666. Pay varied by state, with top mean salaries in New York, $74,130; Rhode Island, $69,780; New Jersey, $69,640; California, $69,330; and Alaska, $67,990. Mean salaries were between $31,090 and $46,850 in 12 states, including Kansas, North Dakota, Missouri and Iowa.

Special Education and Other Teachers

The median salary for special education and other teachers was $51,980 in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using Education Next's estimate that benefits added 32 percent more to salaries, this amount equaled $16,633.60, for a combined salary and benefits of $68,613.60. Pay varied by state, with the highest mean salaries paid in Virginia, $82,460; District of Columbia, $76,960; Delaware, $67,390; New Jersey, $66,860; and Rhode Island, $66,500. The lowest mean salaries included the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Texas, which were among eight states that paid between $28,840 and $43,180. However, the BLS statistics for special education teacher pay was incomplete, as they had no data for 10 states.

About the Author

Candice Mancini has always loved matching people with career paths. After earning her master's degree in education from the University at Albany, she spent a decade teaching and writing before becoming a full-time writer. Mancini has published articles and books on education, careers, social issues, the environment and more.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images