Skip Navigation
We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, provide ads, analyze site traffic, and personalize content. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.
three educators in a school hallway, two women and one man.

The State of Educator Pay in America

NEA's 2023 review quantifies teacher salary, education support professional pay, and student spending in every state.
Published: April 24, 2023

Key Takeaways

  1. Average educator pay has failed to keep up with inflation. Teachers are making $3,644 less, on average, than they did 10 years ago, adjusted for inflation.
  2. Nearly 40% of all education support professionals working full-time in K-12 schools earn less than $25,000 per year. More than a third of all education support professionals (K-12 and higher education combined) working full-time earn less than $25,000 annually.
  3. Teachers earn 25% more, on average, in states with collective bargaining, and school support staff earn 15% more. In addition, higher education faculty in unions earn about $4,000 more than non-union faculty in the same states.


Average starting teacher salary, a 2.5% increase from the year prior.


Average public school teacher salary, a 2% increase from the previous year

2023 Reports

Annual reports from NEA examine educator pay and school funding from pre-K through college. They reveal an alarming trend of decreased educator pay and inadequate investment in public schools and universities as teacher turnover has hit historic highs.

The reports, released by the National Education Association, show a perfect storm brewing as educator shortages continue to grip schools nationwide. 

Educator Pay in Your State

Section with embed

Key Findings

K-12 Teachers
  • The national average public school teacher salary in 2021-22 of $66,745 represented a 2.0% increase from the previous year.
  • The average classroom teacher salary for 2022-23 is projected to increase by 2.6% over 2021-22 to $68,469.
  • When adjusted for inflation, the average salary of classroom teachers declined by an estimated 6.4% over the past decade.
  • U.S. public schools employed 3,192,475 teachers in 2021‒2022. The number of teachers is expected to decrease slightly by 0.3% from 2021-2022 to 2022-23.
  • The national average per-student expenditure in 2021‒2022 based on fall enrollment was $15,368, a gain of 5.9% from 2020‒2021.
  • Per-student expenditure is projected to increase by 4.6% to $16,080 in 2022‒2023.
  • In fall 2021, U.S. public schools enrolled 48,867,123 students, a decline of less than 1.0 % from fall 2020. From 2020-2021 to 2021-2022, enrollment is projected to decrease by an estimated 0.1%.
Education Support Professionals (ESP)
  • There are over 3.0 million education support professionals (ESPs) working in public education. Of these, three-quarters work in K–12 schools.
  • In K–12 schools, the most common career family for ESPs is paraeducator, 40.3% of the K-12 workforce.
  • More than three-quarters of all ESPs (75.7%) work full-time, which is defined as 30 or more hours per week. This is slightly higher for those working at K–12 schools (79.6%) and slightly lower in higher education (64.4%).
  • For 2021-22, the overall ESP earnings were $35,401. K–12 ESPs working full-time (at least 30 hours per week) earned an average of $33,177. During the same school year, higher education ESP working full-time earned an average of $44,292.
  • More than a third (34.6%) of all ESPs working full-time earn less than $25,000 per year, and 11.7% earn less than $15,000. Among K-12 ESPs working full-time, 13% earn less than $15,000 and 26.6% earned between $15,000 and $24,999. Within higher education, 16.4% earned less than $25,000, and 6.9 percent earned less than $15,000.
  • The average earnings for ESP has risen from $31,905 in 2012-13 to $35,401 in 2021-22. When adjusted for inflation, the salary for ESP in 2013 dollars has fallen from $31,905 to $28,734.
Higher Education
  • The average salary for full-time faculty on 9/10-month contracts was $93,914 in 2021-22, a 2.1% increase over 2020-21. The average salary was slightly higher for faculty at public, four-year institutions ($96,414) and much lower for those at public, two-year institutions ($74,173).
  • Adjusting for inflation, faculty lost $4,837 in purchasing power from the prior year.
  • In 2021-22, women earned 85 cents to every dollar earned by men in public higher education institutions.
  • In 2021-22, the faculty of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) earned $24,000 less, on average, than their colleagues at other institutions, or 75 cents to the dollar.

The Collective Bargaining Advantage

what are teachers paid?

Educator Pay Not Keeping Up With Inflation, NEA Reports Find

The average public school educator is making thousands of dollars less than a decade ago. But educator activism has notched key legislative wins in 2022-23, and significant pay increases could be around the corner.

Our Reports

Kelly McMahon

Rankings & Estimates

Comparative state data and national averages on a host of important public education statistics, teacher salaries, student enrollment, and revenue and expenditures each year.

Teacher Salary Benchmark Report

Information from 12,000 local school districts on starting teacher salaries and salaries at other points of the teaching career continuum.
Andre Mathis

Educator Support Professional Earnings

Educational support professional (ESP) earnings for K-12 and higher education.
Aruna Krishnamurthy

Higher Education Faculty Salary Analysis

Faculty and graduate assistant salaries at the national, state, and institutional level.
Teachers Just Want to Have Funds sign

Raise Educator Pay

Two bills in Congress would raise starting teachers’ salaries to at least $60,000 a year.
Kelly McMahon
Teacher Pay & Per Student Spending

Rankings & Estimates

Start Reading
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.