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 they need 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 take a look at a study conducted by WalletHub. This study looked at 22 indicators including safety and income growth potential to determine which states are the most teacher-friendly.
Teacher salaries are based on data from the 2017-2018 school year.
10 Best States for Teachers
North Dakota is the best state for teachers in the United States according to WalletHub’s findings. North Dakota ranked 11th for “Opportunity & Competition” and third for “Academic & Work Environment.” North Dakota has the second-lowest pupil-to-teacher ratio of any state, which is important because it allows teachers to better manage their classes and provide individual attention to each student. The average teacher salary in North Dakota is $54,421 per year.
New Jersey is the second-best state for teachers in the nation, ranking first for “Academic & Work Environment.” New Jersey has the third-lowest pupil-to-teacher ratio and the fourth-highest public school spending per student, spending about $21,866 per student. New Jersey’s public school systems are also ranked second in the U.S. The average teacher salary in New Jersey is $69,917, the sixth-highest in the country.
Pennsylvania is the third-best state for teachers in the U.S. Pennsylvania ranks second for “Opportunity & Competition” and 10th for “Academic & Work Environment.” Pennsylvania has the ninth-highest teacher salary of any state of $67,398, which is the second-highest when adjusted for cost of living. Pennsylvania teachers believe the state needs to work on teacher starting salaries and pensions as areas of improvement.
Wyoming is the fourth-best state overall for teachers, ranking fourth for “Academic & Work Environment” as well. The state has the sixth-best pupil-to-teacher ratio among all 50 states and the seventh-highest amount of public funding per student. Additionally, Wyoming teachers have the highest average starting salary for new teachers and one of the lowest staff turnover rates. The average teacher salary in Wyoming is $58,578.
Connecticut ranks fifth for the best states for teachers. Connecticut ranks second for “Academic & Work Environment” and ranks third for the best school systems behind New Jersey and Massachusetts. The state is also known for having small class sizes, some of the best-paid teachers, and full retirement benefits that are favorable enough to incentivize about 55% of teachers to continue working until they qualify for a pension. The average teacher salary in Connecticut is $73,113
Illinois is the sixth-best state for teachers in the U.S. overall and also ranks sixth for “Opportunity & Competition,” with the second-best income growth potential for teachers among all 50 states. Additionally, Illinois school systems rank 12th for public school spending per student. The average teacher salary in Illinois is $65,776.
Minnesota is ranked both seventh-best overall for teachers and seventh for “Academic & Work Environment.” Minnesota’s public schools are ranked as some of the best in the country, with the second-highest math and highest median SAT scores of any state. The average teacher salary in Minnesota is $57,782 per year.
The eighth-best state for teachers in the United States is Massachusetts. Massachusetts is ranked fifth for “Academic & Work Environment.” Massachusetts has the best public school systems in the U.S. The state is also the fifth-biggest spender per student. Massachusetts is also the most educated state in the country. The average teacher salary in the state is $79,710.
Utah is the ninth-best state for teachers in the U.S. Utah is ranked eighth for “Opportunity & Competition.” Despite being one of the best states for teachers, Utah has the second-lowest public school spending per student and the third-highest pupil-to-teacher ratio, which is likely because the state has a teacher short of about 1,600. The average annual teacher salary in Utah is $47,604, the fourth-lowest in the country.
10. New York
New York finishes the ten best states for teachers. New York is ranked sixth for “Academic & Work Environment” with the fourth-lowest projected teacher turnover. New York has the highest public school spending per student of $23,091. New York also has the highest average annual teacher salary of $83,585.