Ten school districts with the highest salaries for first-year teachers

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As school districts get ready to reopen in full next fall, hiring a strong, effective teacher workforce to help students transition back into the classroom and make up for instructional loss will be imperative. For school district leaders, a crucial strategy will be to offer competitive salaries.

When it comes to salaries, teaching has lost a lot of ground since the 1990s when it was largely on par with comparable professions. NCTQ has previously written about how teacher wages have remained stagnant over the years. In fact, starting salaries for teachers in 2016 were the same as those offered in 2000, according to research from Stanford economist Eric Hanushek.

NCTQ tracks salary-related data for 148 large school districts in the country, including the largest district in every state. Here are the ten districts that offer the highest annual salaries for a first-year teacher with a bachelor's degree, after adjusting for regional differences in cost-of-living:

  1. Corona-Norco Unified School District (CA)

      $59,373 ($63,707/unadjusted amount)

  2. Northside Independent School District (TX)

      $57,320 ($53,480)

  3. San Antonio Independent School District (TX)

      $56,109 ($52,350)

  4. Arlington Independent School District (TX)

      $55,830 ($56,500)

  5. North East Independent School District (TX)

      $55,361 ($51,652)

  6. Chicago Public Schools (IL)

      $55,122 ($56,665)

  7. El Paso Independent School District (TX)

      $55,074 ($48,300)

  8. Aldine Independent School District (TX)

      $55,064 ($56,000)

  9. Lewisville Independent School District (TX)

      $53,113 ($53,750)

  10. Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District (TX)

      $53,097 ($54,000)

With the average starting salary for teachers in our database currently at $45,422 (adjusted for cost of living), the school districts listed above offer up to a third more. It's hard to miss that eight of these districts are located in Texas, which is home to several cities that happen to offer some of the most affordable living costs in the country. Also, the Texas state minimum salary schedule does not require districts to pay teachers more for advanced degrees, so absent the typical salary bump most teachers get from earning a master's, districts may be able to provide higher pay at the outset.

Job hunters also need to consider other district policies when looking for the best paying district. Many school districts offer differential pay for educators who opt to work in high-needs schools or that teach hard-to-staff subjects, such as science, math, and special education. This type of compensation can include one-time bonus payments, annual salary supplements, increases in base salary, loan-forgiveness, mortgage assistance, or tuition reimbursement. Teacher candidates who'll soon be looking for job opportunities should pay close attention to which school districts have the highest demand and if they provide such an incentive.

To explore more of NCTQ's salary-related data analysis, check out our recent blog post Upping the ante: The current state of teacher pay in the nation's largest school districts. It takes a deep dive into teacher salary trends—from advanced degree premiums for first-year teachers with master's degrees to how pay increases are calculated—at 124 large school districts across the country.

For more data and analysis on how teachers' salaries change early in their careers and the relationship of beginning teacher compensation to retention in large school districts, check out another of our recent blog posts: The revolutionary retention strategy of investing in beginning teachers.