Salary and Job Outlook for Elementary Education Teachers

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Elementary educators teach foundational academic skills and nurture emotional intelligence in their students. These professionals must earn degrees plus teaching certifications and licenses. Elementary educators also develop classroom management skills and implement effective curricula to best serve learners.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a faster-than-average employment growth rate of 5% for all education, training, and library occupations from 2019-2029.

Careers in education are rewarding and secure. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a faster-than-average employment growth rate of 5% for all education, training, and library occupations from 2019-2029.

This page provides details about the elementary education job outlook, including salary and employment prospects. Keep reading for details about the highest-paying states and areas with the greatest growth in elementary education employment.

What Does an Elementary School Teacher Do?

Elementary teachers play a pivotal role in the educational system. In early grades, children learn academic foundations and behavioral expectations. Teaching young students requires specialized training, compassion, and patience.

Elementary teacher tasks include overseeing students’ well-being while at school. Educators must also collaborate with peers, paraeducators, instructional coaches, and administrators to create successful learning environments for elementary students.

Read More About Elementary Education Teachers A Day in the Life of an Elementary Education Teacher

How Much Do Elementary School Teachers Make?

The BLS reports a median annual salary of $60,660 for all kindergarten and elementary school teachers. Elementary teachers who want to advance in their careers can pursue master’s degrees or additional certificates. They can also obtain optional national board certification. These accomplishments may help teachers to set themselves apart in the job market.

Elementary Education Teachers

Median Annual Salary, 2021


$60,660 per year


Source: BLS

Average Elementary Teacher Salary by Experience

Classroom experience affects teachers’ salaries in most states. Many school districts supply a salary schedule dictating the pay for teachers at different levels of experience and education. New teachers should expect to gradually increase their salaries by gaining experience in the classroom along with additional credentials.

Annual Salaries by Experience for Elementary Education Teachers, August 2021

Years of Experience Average Annual Salary
Entry-Level (<1 year) $39,920
Early Career (1-4 years) $41,570
Midcareer (5-9 years) $45,940
Late Career (10-19 years) $52,440
Experienced (20+ years) $59,460
Source: PayScale

Average Elementary Teacher Salary by Education

Elementary teachers must complete continuing education to keep their teaching licenses current. Earning additional degrees can help teachers increase their salaries. The following information details the average hourly and annual wages for professionals holding associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in education.

Please note: This information is from a limited number of respondents and may not accurately represent average wages for all education levels.

Average Salaries by Education, 2021

Education Level Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Associate of Arts, Elementary Education Degree $14.10 $48,000
Bachelor of Science, Elementary Education Degree $17.24 $54,000
Master of Science, Elementary Education Degree $22.30 $58,000
Doctor of Philosophy, Education Degree $32.50 $78,000
Source: PayScale

Earning higher-level degrees may translate to specialized skills and increased pay. Advanced degrees require considerable educational investments, but the potential salary increase may offset some of those costs. Teacher salaries vary by state and region. The increased salaries for obtaining higher credentials may offer a suitable return on investment.

Explore Degrees in Education and Teaching


Average Elementary Teacher Salary by Location

Teacher salaries vary across the country because of factors like population density and cost of living. Urban areas tend to pay more than suburban areas.

California, Massachusetts, and New York employ the highest numbers of teachers with mean annual salaries ranging from $84,380-$85,110. While these states offer strong wages, each has a cost of living index well over the national average.

Top-Paying States for Elementary Education Teachers, 2020

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
California 156,920 $85,110
Massachusetts 29,900 $84,810
New York 92,700 $84,380
Connecticut 15,000 $79,610
District of Columbia 4,150 $78,840
Source: BLS

Teacher salaries also vary by city and state. Due to student population, class sizes, and teacher demand, elementary school teachers can earn higher salaries in certain metropolitan areas.

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Elementary Education Teachers, 2020

Metropolitan Area Number of Elementary Education Teachers Employed Annual Mean Wage
Merced, CA 1,630 $99,360
Kingston, NY 720 $93,780
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 21,520 $92,910
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 44,340 $90,600
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 8,940 $90,480
Source: BLS

Job Outlook and Career Prospects

A positive job outlook indicates strong employment prospects for elementary teachers. The BLS expects an increase in student enrollment for public kindergarten and elementary schools from 2019-2029. The number of teachers needed to accommodate these new students may rise in response, but demand will vary.

Elementary education job opportunities vary by region and school setting. Some states experience more growth and greater job turnover than others. Urban and rural school districts may offer more opportunities than highly competitive suburban districts.

The BLS projects a 4% growth rate in elementary education teacher jobs from 2019-2029. While this growth rate reflects the national average, specific states’ and regions’ growth figures vary.

Elementary Education Teachers

Change in Projected Employment


+4% from 2019-2029


Source: BLS

Best Locations for Elementary School Teachers

Elementary teachers work in every state to serve the educational needs of school children. Some states like California, Texas, and New York employ more teachers because of their large populations and school districts.

Additional factors like the growing teacher shortage in California can affect demand and salary figures for elementary teachers. High birth and immigration rates in many states also correspond with a greater need for teachers.

Top States

The best states for elementary education teachers offer high salaries and ample employment opportunities. Some states may offer more openings due to their geographic size, while others may require higher demand due to high population density.

Top-Employing States for Elementary Education Teachers, 2020
Top-Employing States Number of Elementary Education Teachers Employed Annual Mean Wage
California 156,920 $85,110
Texas 131,370 $56,760
New York 92,700 $84,380
Florida 73,840 $57,520
Illinois 57,880 $66,140
Source: BLS
States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Elementary Education Teachers, 2018-28
State Percent Projected Change, 2018-28 Average Annual Openings
Greatest Projected Percentage Increase
Washington 17.4% 3,910
Utah 16% 1,350
Georgia 15.8% 5,070
Colorado 15.5% 2,370
Maryland 14.4% 2,810
Most Projected Average Annual Openings
California 4.9% 15,070
Texas 10.8% 11,980
New York 8% 7,090
Florida 7.2% 6,200
Georgia 15.8% 5,070
Source: Projections Central
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Top Cities

Living in an urban metropolitan area offers perks like access to entertainment and public transportation, along with greater job prospects. Elementary teachers in metro areas can often pursue abundant employment opportunities.

Furthermore, teachers working in large cities may earn higher salaries. School districts in the greater New York and Los Angeles metro areas offer especially high pay. The table below includes details about employment and wages in the top metropolitan areas.

Top-Employing Metropolitan Areas for Elementary Education Teachers, 2020
Metropolitan Area Number of Elementary Education Teachers Employed Annual Mean Wage
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 90,750 $85,740
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 45,180 $69,560
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 44,340 $90,600
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 34,740 $58,010
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 32,450 $58,930
Source: BLS

Best Industries for Elementary School Teachers

Although schools are the most common workplace for elementary educators, other industries also employ individuals with education credentials. These sectors include government agencies, advocacy groups, and postsecondary institutions.

Top-Paying Industries for Elementary Education Teachers, 2020

Top-Paying Industries Employment Annual Mean Wage
Elementary and Secondary Schools 1,356,460 $65,470
Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals 620 $64,290
Social Advocacy Organizations 110 $60,640
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools 690 $59,290
Educational Support Services 510 $56,620
Source: BLS

Employment by Industry for Elementary Education Teachers, 2020

Industries with Highest Employment Employment Annual Mean Wage
Elementary and Secondary Schools 1,356,460 $65,470
Child Day Care Services 1,620 $36,830
Religious Organizations 1,420 $51,270
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools 690 $59,290
Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals 620 $64,290
Source: BLS

Upward Mobility for Elementary School Teachers

Elementary education teachers possess transferable skills that can help them earn promotions later in their careers. Education degree-holders can pursue the following career prospects:

  • Curriculum Developer: These professionals create academic material and develop coursework for education levels. Elementary educators can use their knowledge to make recommendations and implement change in the educational industry. Curriculum developers earn an average annual salary of $64,670 as of August 2021.
  • Assistant Principal: These administrators take on management roles in elementary, middle, and high schools. They oversee aspects of education like curriculum, discipline, and organization. Assistant principals earn an average annual salary of $74,480 as of August 2021.
  • Principal: School principals hold the highest responsibilities in school buildings. They evaluate teacher performance, identify student needs, and create action plans with other educational leaders. Principals earn an average annual salary of $87,220 as of August 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What can I do with a degree in elementary education?

    Professionals who hold degrees in elementary education can apply their skills in school classrooms, social advocacy settings, and curriculum development roles.

  • Where can certified elementary school teachers teach?

    Certified elementary school teachers can teach in public and private schools, child daycare, and educational support services.

  • What are the highest elementary school teacher salaries by state?

    The top-paying states for elementary school teachers include California, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and District of Columbia. Teacher salaries in these states range from $85,110-$78,840.

  • Will teaching be in demand in the future?

    Yes. According to BLS projections, employment for kindergarten and elementary school teachers will grow by 4% from 2019-2029. Some states, like Washington, will have greater demand for teachers.


Featured Image: Solskin / DigitalVision / Getty Images

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