According to the U.S. Department of Education, an average public school teacher is responsible for a class size of 16 pupils. That’s a lot of young minds to supervise, a task that requires considerable commitment, knowledge, and patience. But not all teacher positions are proving financially viable. A recent New York Times report indicated that insufficient wages in Arizona and other states have led to teacher shortages and walkouts.
To better understand educator salaries, the financial website howmuch.com compiled a series of maps that illustrate how compensation varies by state and according to the learning level of students. Data was taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s how the numbers compare.
For many states, there isn’t a large variation in wages between elementary, middle, and high school teacher salaries; for others, including Oregon, shifting from elementary to middle school can provide a nearly $8000 boost in income. There is also a tremendous shift in wages depending on region. Teachers in New York earn an average $81,613 annually, with Alaska, Connecticut, and California trailing closely behind. That’s significantly more than the national average of $49,000.
While these maps offer some intriguing insight into the financial landscape of teaching, curing shortages in some areas may not simply be a matter of raising salaries. Some critics have argued that teachers are often thrust into classrooms without proper training, leading to frustration and burnout. Fewer college students are majoring in education than in years past, down to 4.1 percent from a high of 10 percent in the 1970s.