By the numbers: Average pay in nation, state for teachers and support staff

The average teacher salary in 2022–23 was $69,544, but even with record investments in some states, pay has not kept up with inflation, according to the National Education Association’s latest report on educator pay in the U.S.

Up 4.1 percent from the prior year and expected to grow another 3.1 percent in 2023–24, “adjusted for inflation, on average, teachers are making 5 percent less than they did 10 years ago,” the NEA said of the 2022–23 number.

The average starting salary for teachers was up 3.9 percent year-to-year to $44,530 — the largest increase in the 14 years that NEA has tracked salary benchmarks. Adjusted for inflation, the starting wage for a teacher in 2022–23 was $4,273 less than it was in 2009–09.

“The data shows that a combination of elected leaders in some states stepping up and the tireless advocacy of educators and their unions has resulted in the largest year-over-year teacher pay increase in over a decade,” according to the report. “However, despite this progress, much work remains to close the teacher pay penalty and address inadequate pay for all educators, and finally make the investments necessary at the state and local levels to attract and retain quality educators into community public schools.”

Starting salaries for K-12 teachers in collective bargaining states were $1,653 more than those in states without such a law, according to the report.

Low pay is causing issues related to recruitment and retention in the profession. “A staggering 77 percent of U.S. school districts still pay a starting salary below $50,000 (28.6 percent start out teachers at less than $40,000), while teacher salaries top out over $100,000 in only 16.6 percent of districts,” the NEA noted.


Education support professionals (ESPs) working full-time in K-12 settings earned an average of $33,756 in 2022–23, but nearly 38 percent earned less than $25,000 annually.

“Top pay is $12,998 higher in states with a bargaining in states where there are bargaining laws covering ESPs, the average earnings is $38,167, compared to states where bargaining is prohibited, the average ESP earnings is $32,308,” the NEA found.


The Golden State had the highest average teacher salary in the country at $95,160 in 2022–23 and the average starting salary for teachers ranked fourth in the nation at $55,283.

Average earnings for ESPs was $39,877 with California ranking sixth in the U.S.

The minimum living wage (income required for a family of one adult and one child to have a modest but adequate lifestyle in the most affordable metro area) was listed at $68,182.

Compared to other college-educated professionals with similar experience, the teacher pay gap was 81 cents.

Per student spending was $17,869 — the 17th highest in the country.