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What Factors Influence Teacher Salary?

Autumn Rivers
Updated May 17, 2024
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Teacher salaries tend to differ depending on various factors, which is why it is often difficult to determine an average income for this profession. One of the most important details is the level of education that the teacher has, as higher levels of education often lead to the ability to teach older students. Of course, the number of years of experience also often matters, as a starting teacher salary is usually much lower than that of a seasoned educator. Finally, teacher salaries tend to vary by location, as cost of living and the wealth of the school district can influence them.

The majority of teaching jobs require at least a bachelor's degree, which usually takes an average of four years to get. This type of education usually allows teachers to get a job at an elementary, middle, or high school. Of course, those who pursue a master's degree in a particular subject can typically start out at a higher teacher salary since they are thought of as more knowledgeable about the topic. Perhaps not surprisingly, becoming a college professor tends to be the highest paying teaching position, but it also requires more schooling. For example, entry-level jobs alone require a master's degree, while becoming a tenured professor typically requires a Ph.D.

Regardless of the level of education acquired by teachers, those without any experience usually get the lowest salary. Of course, the more educated teachers tend to get promoted faster, or at least offered incremental pay raises sooner than those with the basic college education. Either way, though, the average teacher salary typically increases every few years, which may offer hope to those wondering whether to stay in this profession despite an often low starting salary.

One of the biggest factors in determining teacher salary is the location of the job. This is because some school districts, as well as specific colleges or universities, have more money than others, especially if they get private funding, such as from parents or local businesses. Of course, wealthier districts tend to expect their teachers to be more experienced and educated than the typical districts do, which can make the competition fierce when it comes to getting these positions. An additional factor is the cost of living in the area, as the average teacher salary tends to be higher in cities that are expensive to live in. Thus, it is often helpful to compare the income to the costs associated with the area before taking a teaching job based solely on the higher salary.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGeek, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
Discussion Comments
By Glasis — On Feb 08, 2014

New educational guidelines established in the last decade or so require all teachers to earn a master's degree within a set number of years after being hired.

Many districts will help teachers working in their schools find or pay for appropriate master's degree programs that can be completed while working full time.

By Certlerant — On Feb 07, 2014

Teachers who work in inner-city schools often make more than their counterparts with the same experience and education level do in suburban or rural districts.

This may stem from a perceived higher security threat in urban schools. Public inner-city schools also often produce lower test scores and graduation rates than in suburban schools.

Although pay scales vary based on funding, more money may be awarded to these schools in an effort to improve grades and test scores. In turn, teachers earn more.

By Rundocuri — On Feb 06, 2014

This makes sense talentryto, but location does also play a major role in teacher salary. The average teacher salary varies by state, and some areas pay pretty decent money for a bachelor's degree.

By Talentryto — On Feb 05, 2014

If you love teaching and plan to go into the field, the best advice is to plan to advance your degree as much as possible. Though location is important, the higher the level of your degree, the more money you will make. You will also have many more doors open to you with a variety of teaching options that someone with a bachelors degree will not have.

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGeek, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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