Being an educator is one of the most important jobs a person can hold. After all, without teachers, children wouldn't gain the crucial skills and knowledge to become successful adults.
However, in many states across the nation, teachers have low salaries, no support from school administrators, and work high-pressure jobs. A study from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that nearly one-fifth of teachers don't last more than one year in their job due to the high stress and low pay. The study further indicates that almost half don't make it to five years. Fortunately, though, there are states that recognize the value of educators.
Several studies have been conducted to find the best states for teachers. In terms of income, the top state is New York, which pays teachers an average of over $76,000 per year. Alaska comes in behind New York as the state with the second-highest salary for teachers. Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts also have high average salaries for educators.
However, this doesn't show the full picture. Many of these states, including Alaska and New York, have a cost of living that is higher than the national average. Even though these teachers are making more money, the price of everything from housing to utilities and groceries is much higher than in other states.
To get a more comprehensive look at the best states for teachers, we can look at a study conducted by WalletHub. This study looked at 25 indicators, including safety and income growth potential, to determine which states are the most teacher-friendly. Indicators were categorized into Opportunity & Competition and Academic & Work Environment. Teacher salaries below are based on data from the 2018-2019.
Best States for Teachers
Washington's overall score of 56.28 makes it the best state in the U.S. for teachers, ranking second for Opportunity & Competition and tenth for Academic & Work Environment. Teachers in Washington make an average of $72,965 a year, the sixth-highest in the country. The average pupil-to-teacher ratio in Washington is 18:1, which is higher than the national average of about 16:1 but is still lower than in other states.
Utah is the second-best state for teachers in the U.S. Utah is ranked third for Opportunity & Competition. Despite being one of the best states for teachers, Utah has a high pupil-to-teacher ratio of 22:1, with many high school teachers reporting as many as 40 students in their classes. This is likely because the state has a teacher shortage. The average annual teacher salary in Utah is $50,342, the ninth-lowest in the country.
3. New Jersey
With an overall score of 54.03, New Jersey is the third-best state for teachers in the nation. New Jersey ranks fourth for Academic & Work Environment. New Jersey has the fourth-lowest pupil-to-teacher ratio at 12:1 and the second-highest public school spending per student, spending about $21,866 per student. New Jersey's public school systems are also ranked third in the U.S. The average teacher salary in New Jersey is $70,212, the ninth-highest in the country.
Coming in at fourth is Delaware, ranking first for Academic & Work Environment. The pupil-to-teacher ratio in Delaware is 15:1, below the national average of 16:1. Delaware spends about $17,666 per pupil, above the national average. Teachers in Delaware make an average of $62,308, the 14th-highest in the United States. Unfortunately, teacher salaries in Delaware have decreased by over 6% since 1999-2000.
Pennsylvania ranks fifth for the best states for teachers. Pennsylvania ranked fifth for Opportunity & Competition. The average pupil-to-teacher ratio is 15:1, below the national average. The state spends about $16,395 per student, and the average teacher salary is $68,141 a year, the tenth-highest in the U.S.
6. North Dakota
North Dakota is the sixth-best state for teachers in the United States, according to WalletHub's findings. North Dakota ranked seventh for Academic & Work Environment. North Dakota has one of the lowest pupil-to-teacher ratios of any state of about 12:1. The average teacher salary in North Dakota is $53,434 per year, ranked 30th among states. Luckily, the North Dakota teacher salary has increased by 19.6% since 1999-2000.
Virginia is ranked seventh-best overall for teachers, ranking 11th for Opportunity & Competition and Academic & Work Environment. Virginia's public schools are ranked fourth overall in the country. The state spends about $12,216 per student, around the national average. The pupil-to-teacher ratio is below the national average at 14:1. Virginia teachers get paid an average of $52,466, which is the 19th-lowest in the U.S.
The eighth-best state for teachers in the United States is Maryland. Maryland is ranked third for Academic & Work Environment. Maryland has the tenth-best public school systems in the U.S. The state spends about $14,206 per student, above the national average. Maryland is also the second-most educated state in the country. The average teacher salary in the state is the seventh-highest in the U.S. at $70,463.
9. New York
Coming in at the number nine spot is New York. New York is ranked second for "Academic & Work Environment" with the fourth-lowest projected teacher turnover. New York has the highest public school spending per student of approximately $24,040. New York also has the highest average annual teacher salary of $83,889.
Oregon finishes the top ten list of the best states for teachers. Oregon ranks fourth for Opportunity & Competition. When it comes to the lowest projected competition in 2028, Oregon ranks fifth. Oregon's average teacher salary is the 13th-highest in the country, at $64,385 a year. While Oregon is the 14th-most educated state, its per-pupil spending is a little below the national average at $11,920 per student.