Elementary school teacher salary & career outlook

Elementary school teachers work in classroom settings with students aged anywhere from 6 to 12 years. Typically, elementary school teachers typically cover multiple subjects with their students, so comprehensive knowledge of basic math, science, social studies and grammar is often required. Although each school may have a slightly different overall program for teachers to follow, there are a few basic duties that elementary school teachers will likely be expected to perform throughout the course of an ordinary school year:

  • Planning lessons and presenting them in class
  • Assigning home-study tasks to reinforce classroom lessons
  • Grading assignments and monitoring student progress
  • Assisting students individually or in small groups with specific challenges
  • Preparing students for and administering standardized testing materials

Many teachers work a traditional nine- or 10-month school year with breaks during the summer, although some may have year-round schedules or teach summer programs as well. Typical work weeks include home-based preparation for classroom lessons and may exceed 40 hours.

Elementary school teacher salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual elementary school teacher salary was $56,320 in 2013. The bottom 10 percent took home $35,760 or less in the same year, and the top 10 percent made $83,600 or more.

The mid-Atlantic, New England, Great Lakes and West Coast regions of the U.S. were home to the highest-paying states for elementary school teachers in 2013, ranging from $59,680 to $73,040 for the year. Specifically, the five highest-paying states for elementary school teachers in 2013, as reported by the BLS, are:

  • Rhode Island: $73,040 mean annual salary
  • New York: $72,840 mean annual salary
  • Alaska: $70,190 mean annual salary
  • California: $69,320 mean annual salary
  • Connecticut: $68,580 mean annual salary

As with any job, a teacher's salary could be expected to go further in some places than others, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center's 2014 cost of living survey. In Louisville, Ky., for example, which ranked third in affordability at the state level, the mean annual salary for elementary school teachers was $55,300 in 2013. Elementary school teachers in Corpus Christi, Texas, earned a 2013 mean annual figure of $56,760, but the state ranked 12th nationally by comparison.

Elementary school teacher education online and on campus

Public and private elementary school teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree, and graduates with a major concentration in elementary or early childhood education may be preferred by some employers. Public school teachers must also be licensed in the state where they wish to teach, and states may require prospective teachers to earn a nondegree certificate in addition to their degree before licensure can be awarded. Check with your state board of education for more information about local requirements.

Employment outlook and job prospects for elementary school teachers

According to the BLS, employment of elementary school teachers is expected to grow by about 12 percent nationally between 2012 and 2022, leading to around 168,000 new jobs in the field. While student enrollment in the U.S. is expected to grow during the period, regional variation can be expected, and job gains may not occur in equal number across all states and regions.

According to Projections Central's aggregated state labor data, the states with the best projected growth between 2010 and 2020 include:

  • Georgia: 32.8%
  • Utah: 29.4%
  • New Mexico: 27.6%early
  • Arizona: 22.7%
  • Florida: 22.4%

An overwhelming majority of elementary school teachers were employed by elementary and secondary schools in 2013, according to the BLS, but employment services firms and religious organizations also furnished several thousand job opportunities for graduates of elementary school teacher education programs. States reported by the BLS to have employed the highest concentration of elementary school teachers per thousand jobs in 2013 included:

  • Mississippi
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • North Dakota
  • Maine


  1. Cost of Living Data Series: First Quarter 2014, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Missouri Department of Economic Development, http://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/index.stm
  2. Occupational Employment and Wages: Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252021.htm
  3. Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, "Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014, www.bls.gov/ooh/Education-Training-and-Library/Kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm