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Job Outlook for Teachers

by George Lorenzo

There is always a need for K-12 teachers. Currently, some of the greater needs and more lucrative job opportunities for K-12 teachers are in math, science, and bilingual education. However, opportunities for teachers of all subjects are regularly available and usually dependent upon geography. For instance, there is a significant need for teachers in what the bureau of labor statistics refers to as “less desirable” urban and rural districts.

Average Salaries for K-12 Teachers

From the perspective of some of the major cities in the U.S., a beginning teacher in New York City, with a bachelor’s degree, can expect an annual starting salary of $43,436. A master’s degree teacher candidate can expect a starting salary of $48,747. In Los Angeles, a beginning teacher with a bachelor’s degree can expect an annual staring salary of $49,497 and $55,124 for those with a master’s degree. In Philadelphia, it’s $39.914 and $41,088 respectively. In Atlanta, it’s $43,231 and $47,554. In Chicago, it’s $43,233 and $46,228. In Houston, it’s $42,745 and $43,745.

Overall, projected enrollment figures by geographic regions are excellent indicators of where new teacher opportunities exist. Through 2016, enrollments in K-12 schools are expected to slow down as children of baby boomers leave the system. Fast-growing states, such as Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Georgia, will experience the largest enrollment increases. Enrollments in the Midwest are expected to be steady, while those in the Northeast are expected to decline. Teachers who are mobile and earn licensure in multiple subjects have the most job opportunities available to them.

According to the most recent reports published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual earnings for kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers range from $43,580 to $48,690; the lowest 10 percent earn $28,590 to $33,070; the top 10 percent earn $67,490 to $76,100. Median earnings for preschool teachers are $22,680.

According to recent reports from the American Federation of Teachers, beginning teachers with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $31,753. The estimated average salary of all public elementary and secondary school teachers is $47,602.

Jobs in Educational Leadership
To state what seems like the obvious, there is always a need for effective leaders in any occupation. School principals, vice principals, and other high-level administrative jobs in the K-12 sector are available to practicing teachers who aspire to advance their careers and ultimately earn higher incomes in the more challenging field of educational leadership.

Educational leaders are responsible for both the financial and intellectual capital of the institutions they help to manage on a day-to-day basis. In K-12, educational administrators set the academic tone and work with teachers to develop high academic standards. They also interact with students, parents and community organizations. In addition, preparing budgets and reports and overseeing the allocations of supplies and services are all part of an educational administrator’s duties.

A master’s degree in educational leadership, coupled with significant experience as a teacher, can lead to positions that range in salary from an average of $67,735 as an elementary school assistant principal to an average of $92,965 for a senior high school principal. Job opportunities for education administrators should be excellent as the number of retired administrators rises over the next ten years.

Jobs in Special Education
Special education teachers work with students who have some form of a disability, from mild to moderate to severe. As schools become more inclusive, special education teachers and general education teachers increasingly work together. In addition to leading classes comprised of special education students only, special education teachers are responsible for showing other teachers at their school how to adapt their curriculums and techniques to meet the needs of students with disabilities.

The need for special education teachers is expected to increase faster than need for most other teachers because the number of students with disabilities entering school systems continues to increase.

According to recent information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual earnings for special education teachers in preschools, kindergartens, and elementary schools is $46,360. The median annual salary of middle school special education teachers is $47,650. The median annual salary of special education teachers in secondary schools is $48,330.

Jobs in Mathematics or Science
According to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), there are too many teachers who teach outside of their areas of specialization. This is particularly true for math and science teachers who, in many schools today, are lacking the right amount of academic preparation in these subjects. For example, in low-income schools, many math teachers did not minor or major in math when they attended college. NCTM says that there is less than a 50 percent chance that students in low-income schools have a math teacher who earned both a license and degree in math.

The same holds true for science teachers. A recent report published by the Business Higher Education Forum (BHEF), points to a projected national shortfall of more than 280,000 new mathematics and science teachers by 2015.

Many states and school districts are coming up with new incentives and strategies to increase the number of math and science teachers. In California, there is a senate bill geared toward providing a means to authorize certain school districts to offer extra pay for math and science teachers. The bill also seeks to allocate funds and resources to improve the quality of instructional materials and physical infrastructure at those schools that have a high percentage of under-prepared math and science teachers.

Jobs in Social Sciences
Psychology, anthropology, archaeology, economics, sociology, and political science are some of the subjects that can fall under the category of social science. For the most part, a social science teacher will cover the history of world cultures, behaviors and politics, informing students about the skills they will need to form opinions and take action to become active citizens.

Jobs in English Language Learning (ELL) and English as a Second Language (ESL)
The number of non-English-speaking students is expected to grow, creating a demand for ELL and ESL teachers. English language learners are the fastest growing segment of the K-12 student population. Students who speak other than English at home account for almost 19 percent of all K-12 students in the U.S., and it is estimated that these students will comprise over 40 percent of all K-12 students in the U.S. by 2030.

California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois enroll 68 percent of ELL elementary school students. However, many ELL students and their families are starting to move to other parts of the country, where immigration populations have traditionally been very small. Such changes in population migrations are bringing about an increased demand for ELL and ESL teachers throughout the U.S.

Jobs in Instructional Design

It’s no secret that more K-12 instruction is going online, with students and teachers utilizing a vast array of Internet resources, social networks and new educational technologies more than ever before. Consequently, there’s a demand for graduates who have the necessary skills to integrate such technologies into the classroom, as well as for fully online or partially online (blended or hybrid) teaching and learning environments that are growing in numbers and sophistication.


Today’s digital and information age has brought about a new and growing demand for educators who understand how use educational technologies to enhance teaching and learning as well as to develop and sustain assessment and data analysis systems that effectively measure student learning outcomes in order to inform strategic goals.


In addition to implementing new technologies, professionals in the field of instructional coordination and design are often responsible for helping to select textbook and other materials, training teachers and assessing educational program for quality and adherence to regulations and standards.


Overall, education-oriented information technologists and instructional designers and coordinators play a large role in improving the quality of education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for such positions, which requires a master’s degree, typically start at around $52,790. The number of instructional coordinators is expected to grow by 22 percent through 2016.




Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, “Education Administrators,”


Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, “Instructional Coordinator,”


Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, “Teachers - Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle, and Secondary,”


Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, “Teachers—Special Education,


Business Higher Education, “An American Imperative: Transforming the Recruitment, Retention and Renewal of Our Nation’s Mathematics and Science Teaching Workforce,” June 2007,


California Council on Science and Technology, “Math and Science Teacher Pay Incentives,” Capitol Happenings, May 2008,


College Board, Social Science Teacher Education,


Kathleen Flynn & Jane Hill, “Policy Brief: English Language Learners: A Growing Population,” Mid Continent Research for Education and Learning, December 2005,


National Council of Teachers of Mathematics,

The Apple: Where Teachers Meet and Learn, “6 High Paying Cities for K-12 Teachers,”

Copyright 2011. Lorenzo Associates, Inc., All Rights Reserved