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Teacher salaries vary depending on geographic location and grade level. Your level of education also has a significant effect on the level of pay you receive. Generally, school districts reward higher education with greater pay. If you start your teaching career after earning an advanced degree, your starting pay will likely be higher than that of your counterparts. If you return to school while already employed, consult with your school district to inquire about pay increases.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a kindergarten teacher with a bachelor's degree earns an average of $48,800 per year. Annual salaries increase to $51,660 for elementary school teachers with the same education and they further increase to $53,230 for high school teachers. Teachers with bachelor's degrees are also employed in the school system as paraprofessional teaching assistants. The BLS lists the median salary as $23,220 for these positions.
Most school districts provide salary differentials for educators with advanced degrees. In New York City, beginning teachers with a master's degree earn $51,425 per year, about $6,000 more than starting with a bachelor's degree. New York City teachers with a master's degree and seven years of experience can earn a salary of $74,796. According to the website Masters in Education, a master's degree can result in an increase of salary ranging from five to ten percent. Earning a master's degree also enables you to move into the arena of post-secondary education. Most community colleges and some four year colleges allow teachers with master's degrees to teach undergraduate classes. According to a community college salary survey, these instructors earn an average of $55,833 per year.
Earning A Doctorate
Salary differentials apply for teacher's with doctorate degrees. Though the majority of educators with doctorate degrees work in administrative capacities, many teachers continue to provide instruction after earning their PhD. In Virginia's Fairfax school district, new teachers with a doctorate degree earn an annual salary of $55,062. This is $5,000 more per year than their master's level counterparts and almost $10,000 more than beginning teachers with a bachelor's degree. With years of service, a doctorate level teacher can earn up to $98,000 per year in Fairfax County.
Professional degrees are awarded in specialized areas of study. A J.D. and an M.D. are examples of professional degrees that are often treated differently than a general masters or doctorate. Teachers with these degrees are eligible for increased salary steps. However, your individual school system's classification method determines whether the increase is on a masters level or a doctorate level. With a professional degree, you are also able to work as a college professor, teaching students within your particular specialty. According to the BLS, college professors earn an average salary of $62,050 per year.
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Erika Winston is a Washington, D.C.-based writer, with more than 15 years of writing experience. Her articles have appeared in such magazines as Imara, Corporate Colors E-zine and Enterprise Virginia. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Regent University and a Masters in public policy from New England College.