If you love working with children and enjoy your summers off, then a career as an elementary teacher if for you. Teaching is one of the most common professions in the United States, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field will continue to grow through the year 2018 as teachers working in schools retire and new teachers are needed. Teachers also can command above-average salaries and an excellent range of benefits.
In 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1.5 million elementary school teachers were working in the United States. The average salary for elementary school teachers was about $53,000. The pay range for teachers was fairly wide, with the highest 10 percent of teachers earning about $78,000, while the lowest-paid teachers earned about $33,000.
Pay structure and benefit packages for many elementary teachers are negotiated by union contracts, so there is not a lot of flexibility in individual contracts. However, teachers enjoy benefits such as attractive health insurance and retirement packages, vacation days and professional development days throughout the school year, and, of course, a work schedule that allows for work-life balance. The most widely known benefit, of course, is having a summer vacation. In addition, teachers enjoy the benefit of touching the lives of the children they serve and that enjoyment has fueled the careers of generations of teachers, especially in an elementary school setting.
Teachers looking for the highest-paying jobs should look toward the northeast region of the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, four of the five top-paying states were within the northeast corridor as of 2008. Teachers earned the most, according to labor statistics, in Rhode Island at about $68,000. Teachers in Connecticut and New York averaged about $66,000 and $65,000, with New York employing over 96,000 elementary teachers. The District of Columbia has much fewer elementary teachers -- just over 4,000 -- but the average salary was about $64,000. The most surprising state for high salaries was Alaska. Elementary teachers in Alaska earned about $68,000 in 2008.
High-Paying Metro Areas
If you are looking for a city where you can command top pay as an elementary teacher, according to labor statistics, the Nassau-Suffolk district in the New York metropolitan area would be your first choice. The 16,000 teachers working in that district averaged more than $83,000 in 2008. In Waterbury, Connecticut, teachers averaged more than $74,000, while teachers in Bethesda, Maryland, in the suburbs of Washington, DC, averaged more than $72,000. On the West Coast, teachers in Napa, California averaged more than $70,000.
- teachers marking image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com