Teaching is an inviting opportunity for those who feel a calling to influence future generations, and the occupation offers the benefit of regular vacations. Starting pay for teachers varies considerably by state, and the actual worth of the salary may vary by the local cost of living.
National Pay Scale:
According to industry website Teacher Portal, the average starting salary for teachers was $33,950 as of 2011. During the first one to four years, average pay increased to $35,873, while teachers with five to nine years of experience reported annual salaries that averaged $41,391. Teachers who had been working for between 10 and 19 years earned salaries that averaged $48,088 annually, and those who had worked in the profession for 20 years or more reported annual pay that came to an average of $56,055. In addition to annual salaries, many teachers receive state benefits and access to retirement packages.
States with High Starting Salaries:
According to Teacher Portal, the state with the highest starting pay in 2011 was Connecticut, where the average teacher salary started at $39,259. Alaska ranked second, with an average starting salary of $38,657. First-year teachers in New Jersey averaged $38,408 per year, those in Illinois reported starting salaries averaging $37,500, and New York ranked fifth with an average starting pay of $37,321. Maryland, Deleware, Hawaii, California, Michigan, Massachusetts and Colorado also reported average starting salaries of $35,000 or more.
States With Low Starting Salaries:
As of 2011, 20 states reported average starting salaries for teachers that were less than $30,000. First-year teachers in Oklahoma, Missouri and Nebraska averaged between $29,000 and $30,000. Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Arkansas reported starting salaries of between $28,000 and $29,000. States with average starting salaries between $27,000 and $28,000 included Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, North Carolina and Nevada. South Dakota, Vermont, Utah, Maine and West Virginia's first-year teachers averaged salaries of between $26,000 and $27,000. Starting teachers in Montana earned an average of $25,318, and those in Wisconsin averaged $25,222. North Dakota offered the lowest starting wages on average, $24,872.
Salary and Local Cost of Living:
To assist aspiring teachers deciding where to practice, Teacher Portal has compared the average salary and cost of living to determine the salary comfort rating of each state. By this index, Illinois is ranked as the most comfortable state for teachers. Other states where your salary will go further than the national average include Deleware, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Teacher portal ranks Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Hawaii as the four states in which the average teacher salary compares least favorably to the cost of living.