For the most part, teachers aren’t in it for the money. Despite educating the country’s future leaders and innovators, most educators work long hours for only modest compensation.
Last year, a global study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found that American elementary school teachers make around 22% less than their peers in almost every other industry. Wages for middle and high school teachers didn’t fare much better: The study found that they had largely frozen since the financial crisis in 2008.
But location can play a significant factor on how much a teacher makes.
Personal finance site WalletHub recently ranked the best and worst states to be a teacher, considering factors such as average starting salary, median annual salary, income growth potential, and average teacher pensions, as well as non-salary metrics like public school enrollment growth, school safety, and student-teacher ratio. (You can read WalletHub’s full methodology here.)
Though teachers earn less than many other professionals nationwide, when you adjust for cost of living, teachers’ salaries stretch a lot further in a few places. Here are the states where teachers earn the most, as adjusted for cost of living:
- Michigan — $70,042
- Illinois — $63,567
- Pennsylvania — $63,098
- Wyoming — $62,242
- Ohio — $60,984
Michigan’s $70,000 annual salary stands in stark contrast to the lowest-paying state, Hawaii, where teachers earn less than half as much — just $34,063 on average. This stems in part from Michigan’s lower cost of living, which allows teachers to get more out of each paycheck.