Teachers’ salaries are always a hot topic both in the United States and in the United Kingdom. With educators leaving the profession in droves and even planned strike action, what can teachers in the US and the UK expect in terms of salary in 2023?
Currently, the average salary for teachers in the US ranges from $38,000 to $58,000, and in the UK, the average salary for teachers is £30,000 to £40,000. Factors such as location (city or state), experience, and subject or grade level affect teacher salaries in both countries. In 2023, it is projected that teacher salaries in the US will increase by 2% to 3% and in the UK will increase by 1% to 2%.
This article will examine the current state of teacher salaries in the US and UK, project changes in teacher salaries in 2023, and consider the implications for teachers and policymakers.
Average Salary Comparison in the US: High School vs. Middle School Teachers
As a prospective teacher, one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a grade level to teach is the annual earnings. While a teacher’s passion for the subject and the students is the primary driver, it’s also important to make sure that the financial aspect is taken into consideration. So, do high school teachers make more than middle school teachers?
The average salary of a high school teacher is about $62,700, while the average salary of a middle school teacher is about $62,690. This may not seem like a significant difference, but when you factor in the long-term earning potential, the gap does widen.
However, it’s important to note that these are just averages and the actual salary can vary based on factors such as education level, experience, and location.
Education level, in particular, can have a significant impact on a teacher’s salary. According to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), educators who hold advanced degrees, such as a master’s or Ph.D., earn an average of $5,285 more per year than those who only hold a bachelor’s degree. This means that over the course of a career, advanced degree holders can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more than those with just a bachelor’s degree.
Experience is another important factor that can affect a teacher’s salary. As a teacher gains more experience, their salary generally increases. This is not just because of the years of service, but also because experienced teachers are often given additional responsibilities, such as department head or mentor roles, which come with higher pay.
Location is also a key factor in determining a teacher’s salary. Teachers in urban areas tend to earn more than those in rural areas. This is because the cost of living in urban areas is generally higher and schools in urban areas often have more resources to pay their teachers a higher salary.
When it comes to the specific earnings of high school and middle school teachers, it’s important to keep in mind that the national average salary for both positions is not always the best indicator of what you can expect to earn.
Other factors, such as the grade level you teach, the school’s location, and additional responsibilities you hold can also affect your salary.
A Closer Look
Let’s take a closer look at the average salary of high school and middle school teachers. According to Salary.com, high school teachers in the US earned an average of $62,700 in 2022. This is slightly lower than the average given by U.S. News & World Report for high school teachers in 2020, which was $62,870.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also reports that the median pay for high school teachers in 2021 was $61,820 per year. The lowest-paid instructors earned less than $42,000 annually, while the highest-paid high school teacher earned about $100,000 annually.
When it comes to middle school teachers, the salary-tracking website Salary.com states that they earned an average of $62,690 annually in 2022. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average pay for middle school teachers in 2020 was $60,810.
The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook also maintains that the average salary for middle school teachers in 2021 was $61,320 per year. The lowest-earning middle school teachers made less than $45,000, while the highest-earning instructors earned more than $99,000.
As we can see, the difference in salary between high school and middle school teachers is not very large.
Factors that Affect High School and Middle School Teacher Salaries
Another important factor that can affect a teacher’s salary is the subject they teach. High school teachers who specialize in subjects such as math, science, and special education tend to earn more than those who teach subjects such as English and social studies. This is because there is often a higher demand for teachers in these subjects, leading to higher salaries.
When it comes to working conditions, high school teachers may also have an advantage over middle school teachers. High school teachers often have their own classrooms and may have more autonomy over their curriculum and teaching methods.
On the other hand, middle school teachers may have to share classrooms and may have less control over their curriculum.
Current State of Teacher Salaries in the US
In the US, the average salary for teachers is $50,000 per year. However, this varies depending on location, experience, and subject area. For example, teachers in states such as New York and California tend to earn higher salaries than those in states such as Mississippi and West Virginia.
In addition, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the average salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience is $38,000, while the average salary for a teacher with a master’s degree and 20 years of experience is $58,000.
When compared to other countries, US teacher salaries are lower than those in countries such as Canada and Australia but higher than those in countries such as Mexico and New Zealand.
Despite this, the US still faces a teacher shortage, particularly in rural and high-poverty areas. This is due to a combination of factors such as low salaries, lack of resources, and poor working conditions.
One of the main reasons for the low teacher salaries in the US is the lack of funding for education. In the US, education funding primarily comes from state and local taxes. However, states with lower income and property taxes tend to have lower levels of education funding. This results in lower teacher salaries and fewer resources for students.
Additionally, teacher salaries in the US are not on par with other professions requiring similar levels of education and experience. According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, the average teacher salary in the US is 18% lower than the salaries of other college-educated professionals.
When it comes to different levels of education, the average salary for elementary school teachers in the US is $57,980, for middle school teachers is $58,600 and for high school teachers is $60,320.
However, it’s worth mentioning that the salary expectations for elementary school teachers are lower than those of middle and high school teachers, due to the lower level of specialized education required to teach in elementary schools.
Another factor affecting teacher salaries in the US is the lack of support for teacher professional development. In the US, teachers are not required to continue their education or professional development after they are licensed. This means that many teachers are not up to date with the latest teaching methods or technology, which can negatively impact student learning.
This is also a contributing factor to the teacher shortage in the US, as many teachers leave the profession due to a lack of career advancement opportunities.
Current State of Teacher Salaries in the UK
In the UK, the average salary for teachers is £35,000 per year. However, like in the US, this varies depending on location, experience, and subject area. Teachers in London tend to earn higher salaries than those in other regions.
According to the National Union of Teachers, the starting salary for a teacher in London is £32,157, while the starting salary for a teacher in other regions is £26,662. In addition, teachers with more experience and those who teach in high-demand subject areas tend to earn higher salaries.
When compared to other geographically close nations, teacher salaries in the UK are lower than those in countries such as Germany and Denmark but higher than those in countries such as Greece and Portugal. Similar to the US, teacher salaries in the UK are not on par with other professions requiring similar levels of education and experience.
In the UK, the main reason for the lower teacher salaries is the lack of funding for education. The UK government has been cutting education funding since 2010, which has led to lower teacher salaries and fewer resources for students. This has also led to an increase in class sizes and a decrease in resources such as textbooks and technology.
The salary you can expect also varies depending on the age group of students taught. The average salary for elementary (primary) school teachers in the UK is between £28,000 to £35,000, while for high school (secondary) teachers, the figure ranges from £37,000 to £42,000.
Projected changes in teacher salaries in the US and UK in 2023
The projections for teacher salaries in the US and UK in 2023 are influenced by factors such as economic growth, budget constraints, and changes in government policy.
In terms of the impact of the current economic conditions and the effects of the pandemic on teachers’ salary expectations, it is likely that the economic downturn will have a negative impact on teacher salaries in both the US and the UK.
With budget constraints and decreased funding, teacher salaries will not see a significant increase in 2023. Furthermore, the uncertainty caused by the pandemic has affected education budgets and led to a decrease in school enrollment, which could negatively impact teacher salaries.
In the US, it is expected that teacher salaries will increase by 2% to 3% in 2023 in an effort to increase demand for teachers and the need to retain experienced teachers.
In the UK, it is expected that teacher salaries will increase by 1% to 2% in 2023. This is due to the government’s commitment to increasing teacher pay in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is also worth noting that in both the US and UK, teacher benefits and compensation also play a significant role in the overall compensation package for teachers.
In the US, benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans are often provided by the state or local government. On the other hand, in the UK, benefits such as pension plans and longer paid vacation are generally standardized across the country.
The projected increases are significantly below the rate of inflation experienced in both the US and the UK. This means that, even after the projected increase, teacher salaries are expected to decline in real terms when adjusted for inflation.
Teacher salaries in the US and UK vary depending on location, experience, and subject area. Currently, the average salary for teachers in the US is around $50,000 per year and in the UK is around £35,000 per year.
In 2023, it is projected that teacher salaries in the US will increase by 2% to 3% and in the UK will increase by 1% to 2%. These projections are a response to the high number of educators who have left or are planning to leave the profession.
However, it is important to note that these increases will not necessarily address the underlying issues of low funding and lack of support for professional development.
In order to ensure a sustainable and effective education system, addressing the issue of low teacher salaries is crucial. Teachers are the backbone of the education system, and they deserve to be compensated fairly for the important work they do. With the right support, teachers can continue to make a positive impact on the lives of students and the communities they serve.
For a more in-depth comparison between the experiences of a US teacher vs a UK teacher, check out this video:
- “UK teachers announce strike, adding to wave of industrial action” (Reuters, 2023)
- National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “Average Salary of Public School Teachers” (2019)
- National Union of Teachers (NUT), “Teacher Pay and Conditions” (2020)
- Economic Policy Institute (EPI), “Teacher Pay Gap” (2019)
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “Education at a Glance” (2019)
- American Federation of Teachers, “Teacher Shortages in the U.S.” (2018)
- “Why America’s Teachers are So Underpaid” (The New York Times, 2017)
- “UK education funding crisis: The evidence” (The Guardian, 2017)
- “The State of Education in the UK” (TED Talk by Andreas Schleicher, 2018)
- “The Impact of Covid-19 on Education” (UNESCO, 2020)
- “Economic Impact of Covid-19 on Education” (Education International, 2020)
- YouTube: The Infographics Show – US Teachers vs UK Teachers – How Do They Compare? Hours & Salary Comparison