Looking to Teach? Here Are the Top Cities Where You Can Actually Make Bank

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, which means gifts from overachieving students and freebies and discounts at restaurants.

But given the rash of walkouts and strikes in certain pockets of the country lately, it’s clear that many teachers feel overworked and undercompensated. In a recent interview with former public school teacher Jennifer Ross, she acknowledged working more than 60 hours most weeks and spending off time planning classroom activities.

And, according to an annual report from the U.S. Department of Education, dozens of districts across the country are facing teacher shortages (some are even begging retirees to come back to the workforce to fill the void).

But some places are bucking the trend. What about the cities that pay their teachers what they’re actually worth?

For Riverside County Superintendent Dr. Judy D. White, it’s simple: To prepare more students for college — and raise what were less-than-stellar college graduation rates — the district needed stellar teachers.

“When study after study reveals that great teachers have an enormous impact on student success, it becomes a priority for schools to focus on teacher compensation, professional development and retention strategies,” White said in an email.

Last year, White’s administration negotiated a 10% raise for about 650 teachers with the local union. Though that’s a fraction of the more than 20,000 teachers in the Riverside metropolitan area, it demonstrates why Riverside is one of the top paying metros for teachers.

For Teacher Appreciation Week, we wanted to find the top cities for teachers — elementary, middle and high school — when it comes to annual pay. So we pulled the most recent median annual salary numbers for the 50 metropolitan areas with the most teachers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (We used the median to avoid the effect of outliers, such as a 30-year veteran making more than six figures.)

But we ran into one big problem: Teachers in New York City obviously get paid more than those in Cincinnati, Ohio — because the rent is too dang high in NYC.

So we adjusted for the local cost-of-living to find the real pay in the top cities for elementary, middle and high school teachers using the latest regional price parities from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Metro areas in California and Ohio dominate the list, mainly due to competitive teacher pay in the former and the cheap cost of living in the latter.

Here’s the full list of the 30 best places for elementary, middle and high school teachers.

Note: We’ve only listed the name of the largest city in each metro area.

The 10 Best Cities for Elementary School Teachers

Teaching elementary school has its ups and down. You get to begin molding young minds, but also have to deal with the occasional “accident.” Then again, there’s nap time, which affords you some quiet to reflect on your life choices.

Here are the top 10 cities for elementary school teacher salaries:

1. Riverside, California

Real Pay: $80,412.37

Total Teachers: 20,180

2. Anaheim, California

Real Pay: $74,923

Total Teachers: 11,520

3. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Real Pay: $69,745

Total Teachers: 6,780

4. Cincinnati, Ohio

Real Pay: $69,552

Total Teachers: 8,620

5. Sacramento, California

Real Pay: $69,103

Total Teachers: 7,850

6. Boston, Massachusetts

Real Pay: $68,776

Total Teachers: 12,270

7. Los Angeles, California

Real Pay: $68,673

Total Teachers: 31,040

8. Columbus, Ohio

Real Pay: $67,261

Total Teachers: 9,320

9. Detroit, Michigan

Real Pay: $66,025

Total Teachers: 5,920

10. Cleveland, Ohio

Real Pay: $65,942

Total Teachers: 7,400

The 10 Best Cities for Middle School Teachers

Middle school is a transformative time for students — mostly thanks to puberty, which can make for quite a chaotic teaching environment. But that’s why middle school teachers are so important.

Here are the top 10 cities for middle school teacher salaries:

1. Portland, Oregon

Real Pay: $80,059

Total Teachers: 3,320

2. Hartford, Connecticut

Real Pay: $79,802

Total Teachers: 3,050

3. Riverside, California

Real Pay: $78,997

Total Teachers: 3,430

4. Sacramento, California

Real Pay: $71,208

Total Teachers: 2,760

5. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Real Pay: $69,959

Total Teachers: 3,490

6. Boston, Massachusetts  

Real Pay: $68,957

Total Teachers: 8,350

7. Cincinnati, Ohio

Real Pay: $67,769

Total Teachers: 5,680

8. Cleveland, Ohio

Real Pay: $66,856

Total Teachers: 7,470

9. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Real Pay: $65,734

Total Teachers: 5,600

10. Columbus, Ohio

Real Pay: $65,403

Total Teachers: 4,680

The 10 Best Cities for High School Teachers

High school teachers are the last to instruct students before they head off to college or into the workforce (or into their parents’ basement — we’re not judging.) It’s largely up to them to prepare students for the real world.

Here are the top 10 cities for high school teacher salaries:

1. Buffalo, New York

Real Pay: $75,389

Total Teachers: 4,160

2. Anaheim, California

Real Pay: $75,349

Total Teachers: 7,460

3. Hartford, Connecticut

Real Pay: $74,653

Total Teachers: 5,050

4. Cleveland, Ohio

Real Pay: $73,746

Total Teachers: 8,930

5. Sacramento, California

Real Pay: $73,577

Total Teachers: 6,440

6. Riverside, California

Real Pay: $71,987

Total Teachers: 10,560

7. Portland, Oregon

Real Pay: $70,914

Total Teachers: 6,210

8. Providence, Rhode Island

Real Pay: $70,050

Total Teachers: 4,660

9. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Real Pay: $69,316

Total Teachers: 4,660

10. Boston, Massachusetts

Real Pay: $69,184

Total Teachers: 11,620

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. If he wasn’t a reporter, he’d probably be a math teacher.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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