Back to School Spotlight: Teacher Shortages, Salaries and Solutions

We all have that teacher who made a positive impact on our liveswhether they coaxed us out of our shells, believed in us, or inspired us to pursue our dream career.

Great teachers exercise a powerful influence on the lives of students and so have the potential to shape the future. As such, education is an excellent field for someone with a strong sense of purpose who wants to make a difference in the world.

But as the headlines remind usit’s not always easy to fill teaching roles. In fact, one thing we are not short of is information about the teacher shortage, which is said to be at its most challenging in decades.

Demand is up, but not enough people are entering the profession, and others are leaving. So as the new school year kicks into gear, we at Indeed decided to shine a spotlight on this most essential of jobs—what it pays, the extent of the shortages, and what can be done about it.

Where it pays most to be a teacher in the US

First, let’s take a look at salaries. Although teaching is not as well paid as some other professions requiring a college degree, this doesn’t mean that conditions are the same across the country.

To find out where it pays most to be a teacher, our data science team used Indeed salary data to identify the cities (among the 25 largest) with the highest average salaries, then adjusted for cost of living using the most recent information from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).  

It turns out the city where it pays most to be a teacher is Riverside, California (one of five California cities in the top 15). Here, the adjusted average annual salary is $58,025. This is slightly lower than the “on paper” unadjusted salary of $62,192 and so illustrates how state-hopping job seekers need to be careful when assessing salaries on offer outside their home region. Those numbers are not always what they seem.

In second place is Sacramento, the state capital of California, which was identified by Indeed as one of the best cities in the U.S. for job seekers earlier this year. Here, teachers have an average adjusted salary of $55,785. Meanwhile, Seattle, WA, Richmond, VA, and San Antonio, TX round out the top five spots.

Interestingly, San Jose, the unofficial capital of Silicon Valley places sixth, while San Francisco lands just outside the top 10 in eleventh place. Considering the notoriously high cost of living in these cities, these are surprisingly strong results. A teacher’s salary still goes relatively far in these cities, compared to some others in the US.  

That said, we don’t always see such a good deal for teachers working in high cost areas. For instance, New York ranks 23rd with an average adjusted salary of $40,233—more than $10,000 lower than San Jose and $18,000 lower than Riverside.

The teaching shortage is not a “one size fits all” problem

So if teachers want to have a rewarding career and get paid more and enjoy sunny weather the solution is obvious—they should pack their bags and head west, right?

After all, according to media reports, the sunshine state is still experiencing…

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