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 $92,222 per year. Massachusetts comes in behind New York as the state with the second-highest salary for teachers. Connecticut, California, and Washington also have high average salaries for educators.
However, this doesn't show the full picture. Many of these states, including California 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 202122–2019 school year.
New York's overall score of 60.86 makes it the best state in the U.S. for teachers, ranking third for Opportunity & Competition and third for Academic & Work Environment. Teachers in Washington make an average of $92,222 a year, the highest in the country.
Utah is the second-best state for teachers in the U.S. Utah is ranked first 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 $58,619.
With an overall score of 55.41, Washington is the third-best state for teachers in the nation. Washington ranks fourth for Academic & Work Environment. The average teacher salary in Washington is $81,586, the fifth-highest in the country.
Coming in at fourth is Pennsylvania, ranking fifth for Academic & Work Environment.. Teachers in Pennsylvania make an average of $72,428, the 11th-highest in the United States.
With an overall score of 54.53, New Jersey is the fifth-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 $79,045.
Virginia is ranked sixth-best overall for teachers, ranking 7th for Opportunity & Competition and ninth for 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 $59,965.
The seventh-best state for teachers in the United States is Maryland. Maryland is ranked second 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 ninth-highest in the U.S. at $75,766.
Coming in at eighth 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 $65,647, the 16th-highest in the United States. Unfortunately, teacher salaries in Delaware have decreased by over 6% since 1999-2000.
With a total score of 51.88, Illinois is the ninth-best state in the country for teachers. Illinois is sixth in Opportunity & Competition and has an average annual salary of $72,301.
Connecticut finishes the top ten list of the best states for teachers. Connecticut ranks sixth for Academic & Work Environment. With an annual average salary of $81,185, Connecticut also has the sixth-highest pay for teachers in the country.