Elementary school teachers help young students acquire the fundamental reading and mathematical skills they will need to make satisfactory progress in future grades. Teachers plan and present lessons, evaluate students, maintain discipline in the classroom and help students prepare for state-mandated assessment tests. In most settings, teachers also maintain communications with parents through phone calls, notes or open houses. Salaries for these teachers can vary based on a number of factors.


The May 2011 report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the average yearly salary for elementary school teachers was $55,270. The report also stated that 10 percent earned $81,230 or more annually and 10 percent earned $34,910 or less. Of the 1,415,590 teachers included in the report, the overwhelming majority -- 1,404,490 -- were employed by elementary or secondary schools.

Top States:

In the five best-paying states listed in the May 2011 BLS report, elementary school teachers earned salaries significantly above the national average. In Alaska, elementary teachers reported average annual salaries of $72,090, and the mean salary in Rhode Island was $71,840. New York reported the third-highest average earnings for the occupation, $69,380. Elementary school teachers received an average salary of $66,920 in Connecticut and $65,660 in California.

Top Metropolitan Areas:

Most of the top-paying metropolitan areas were in states with the highest average earnings, according to the May 2011 data furnished by the BLS. The greater Nassau, New York, area showed the highest salary, with elementary teachers averaging $90,560 annually. One Maryland area, the Bethesda-Frederick region, made the list, reporting salaries that averaged $79,740 per year. In Waterbury, Connecticut, elementary teachers averaged $76,860, and in Kingston, New York, they averaged $74,930. The average annual salary in greater Ithaca, New York, was $73,890, and it was $72,460 in the Chico, California, metropolitan area.

Top Rural Areas:

Salaries tended to average less in non-metropolitan areas, according to the BLS. As of May 2011, the best paying non-metropolitan area was California’s Eastern Sierra Region, where elementary school teachers earned an annual average salary of $67,650. In the rural areas of Northwestern Connecticut, the average was $66,910 per year. Elementary school teachers in the Nantucket Island-Martha’s Vineyard area of Massachusetts reported average earnings of $65,510. In California’s Northern Mountains Region, the average annual salary was $64,600, and in Eastern Connecticut, elementary school teachers averaged $63,050 annually.

Top Industries:

Although most elementary teachers are employed by elementary or secondary schools, some work in other settings. The best-paying industry, per the BLS’s May 2011 report, was the one providing individual and family services, where salaries averaged $59,420. Schools other than elementary and secondary paid an average of $56,740, compared to $55,290 earned by teachers at elementary and secondary schools. Institutes of higher learning paid an average of $52,870; general hospitals offered an average annual salary of $48,820.

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