Teaching can offer lots of rewards: it's never boring, you can do something different every day and there's the tremendous satisfaction of knowing you play an important role in a young person's life. But when it comes to financial rewards and other perks - along with plentiful job opportunities and job security - certain states are much more teacher-friendly than others. Here are some states where teachers are likely to get the best opportunities. (For related reading, check out 5 High-Paying, Low-Stress Jobs.)
In Pictures: 6 Hot Careers With Lots Of Jobs
The biggest problem for teachers right now is the lack of jobs in many areas. Even teachers who currently have jobs can't take their careers for granted.
"Right now we are expecting 150,000 to 185,000 educator layoffs across the country," says Michelle Hudgins of the National Education Association. In California, for example, 16,000 teachers lost their jobs last year with another 23,000 layoffs expected this year. In Connecticut, meanwhile, around 2,000 teachers may lose their jobs within the next few months, prompting the executive director of the Connecticut Education Association to call the situation, "the worst I've ever seen." (For tips on how to land your dream job, see Top 2010 Job-Hunting Tips.)
Connecticut offers teachers a very competitive starting salary of slightly over $39,000 while starting teachers in North Dakota fail to make in excess of $25,000. The salary survey at TeacherPortal.com shows that average salary for teachers at all levels in Hawaii is $49,292 which is slightly above the average in the country. However, the state ranks dead last in the "salary comfort index," probably due to Hawaii's high cost of living.
The average starting salary for new teachers here was $42,297, according to NEA stats. Maryland also has a statewide pay scale system, meaning all districts must abide by the minimum pay levels established by the state. Districts, however, are free to pay salaries above the minimums. This state also has a reputation for offering great perks for teachers. For example, they will often pay for teachers to go to school and earn advanced degrees - which will then in turn bump them up to a higher tier on the pay scale. By contrast, Texas stopped requiring higher pay rates for teachers with advanced degrees back in the 80s. (If you want to switch careers, you may not have to go back to school to do it. Find out how, in Sell Your Skills, Not Your Degree.)
NEA's figures show an average starting salary for new teachers here as $40,658, although estimates vary significantly.
"In Wyoming, teachers are paid just 90% of other college grads, which is one of the highest ratios in the country," says Hudgins.
The North Dakota Department of Education hasn't announced any belt-tightening layoffs and doesn't anticipate to do so in the coming year. Hudgins says the state is not applying for federal "Race for the Top" education grants, instead opting to use oil money to fund education.
"Although the salary might not be the most desirable, it's a good place to work if you want to know you have a job next year," says Hudgins.
The TeacherPortal.com survey shows the average starting salary in this state is $37,500, with average salary for Illinois teachers overall at $58,686. Plus, the state is number one in the site's salary comfort index rankings. Illinois also offers a special education tuition waiver program - a teacher pursuing a career in special education can qualify for full tuition exemptions at eligible institutions for up to four years.
There seem to be lots of opportunities for teachers in this state. For example, the Anchorage School District has recruiting events scheduled throughout 2010 all over the country. Plus, the state offers a $3,000 signing bonus for teachers who are qualified to teach in a world language immersion program. In addition, Alaska is one of the top paying states to their education professionals.
Teaching is Tough
While teaching jobs - along with increased salaries and benefits - may be hard to find in many parts of the country right now, you can still find some good opportunities by doing some research - especially if you have advanced or specialized qualifications, or are willing to relocate.
Feeling uninformed? Check out the financial news highlights in Water Cooler Finance: Greece Is Burning And Buffett's Under Fire.