50 Highest Paying School Districts for First Year Teachers

The following is a list of the top 50 paying school districts in the United States for first year teachers.  By first year it is assumed that the person has never taught in a school setting prior to their hire date.  We believe this list will be helpful for those entering the teaching field to make an informed decision about what the teaching field offers in terms of pay and benefits.  This list can also serve as a way of navigating through a very confusing maze of salaries and benefits for teachers.  The data used for this listing was compiled using a variety of sources and in most cases is current as of August 2014.  An effort is made to be as accurate as possible but we realize that given the ever changing budgets and allocations that districts go through some listings may be outdated. We apologize for any misrepresentations and welcome comments or updates. We have included website links for all school districts on this list for your convenience.  Happy job hunting!

#1. Katonah-Lewisboro School District, Katonah, NY ($84,407)

If you ever wondered if a teacher could really make a good salary, head north of Long Island, New York.  This area has some of the best paid school districts in the nation.  In fact, the salaries are so competitive in the region that it was difficult to come up with the top ranked district.  Katonah-Lewisboro School District made the cut due to overall cost of living as compared to wages and opportunity for employment.  This district has just over 3,000 students and only three elementary schools, one middle and one high school. .

#2. North Slope Borough School District, Barrow, AK ($55,729)

If hiking and lots of snow is your thing, then you will be making the most of your breaks as a first year teacher in a district that pays its beginning teachers over $10,000 above the state average for first year teachers.  Alaska might be a bit far flung for some but given the natural beauty and outdoor opportunities it is doubtful you will be bored.  If you are wondering where the North Slope Borough school district is, put your education to good use and test your orienteering skills.  Here are the coordinates: 71.2956° N, 156.7664° W

#3. Palo Alto Unified School District, Palo Alto, CA ($55,084)

Silicon Valley is not a cheap place to live.  Thankfully, the Palo Alto Unified School District pays over $10,000 above the state average for first year teachers who hold a bachelor’s degree.  PAUSD currently has twelve elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools.  The average SAT scores for a high school student in this district range from 100 to 200 points above the national average.  Even without the higher pay standard, this makes PAUSD a district that many first year teachers will find appealing.  Palo Alto is perfectly placed between two major metropolitan areas, San Jose and San Francisco.  This gives residents plenty of options for air travel at competitive rates.  There is of course the Pacific Ocean at your door step and northern California forest options nearby.

#4. Nantucket Public Schools, Nantucket, MA ($54,646)

For a unique first teaching assignment, one might look into Nantucket Public Schools.  The three public schools: one elementary, one middle and one high school, serve the 1,300 children who live on this small island thirty miles south of Cape Cod.  As the principal of Nantucket High School states, “The island is our campus.”  As a National Historic Landmark District, Nantucket Island itself provides an environmental, architectural, and historical education that few outside that setting could imagine.  Along with the unique educational opportunities and the beauty of the Island, a first year teacher can earn $14,000 more starting his or her career on the Island than in other parts of the state.

#5. Greenwich Public Schools, Greenwich, CT ($53,645)

Greenwich is a quick train ride from New York City and several other major eastern cities.  Though the cost of living in this beautiful community is nearly double the U.S. average, a starting salary in the mid $50,000 range helps cushion the blow.  Additionally a college attendance rate in the high 90’s and a preschool participation of 97% mean that educational excellence is paramount for this district.  Greenwich is a a perfect place for those who want to live near New York city but would rather not pay the cost of living prices of that large metropolis.

#6. Newark Public Schools, Newark, NJ ($52,273)

Located just west of New York City, Newark, New Jersey is a city that has faced many challenges over the past years but which finds itself as an up and coming city with strategic plans to better its educational institutions.  Newark Public Schools are some of the oldest in the Nation dating back to 1676.  The rich history and ethnic diversity of this community will prove to be a positive environment for first year teachers committed to the education of all children.

#7. Southwest Independent School District, San Antonio, TX ($50,452)

Deep in the heart of Texas is a sleepy little town of almost two million people which is home to eighteen school districts and the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs.  Voted the most visited city in Texas by a number of travel sites including Travelocity and Expedia, San Antonio is also home to the Southwest Independent School District where first year teachers will make over $15,000 above the state average. *This is a corrected post.

#8. Brentwood School District, Brentwood, MO ($49,380)

Brentwood Missouri, home of the Brentwood School District, is an inner ring suburb of St. Louis.  This small Missouri suburb boasts outstanding schools with two of the 5 schools receiving the National Blue Ribbon award.  In addition to strong schools, the immediate area offers parks, an ice rink and an aquatic center to meet your recreational needs, not to mention all of the perks of living close to a major city like St. Louis.

#9. Laramie County School District, Cheyenne, WY ($48,132)

Cheyenne WY is a mere hour and forty minute drive from Denver which can come in handy if you want a more affordable airport to fly into your new home out on the range.  LCS is divided into triads with a central, eastern and southern triad.  There are twenty seven elementary schools, three middle schools and four high schools.  Given the natural beauty of this area anyone who loves the outdoors will be happy to know that you can do so in one of the highest paying school districts in the west.

#10. Alexandria Public Schools, Alexandria, VA ($47,241)

It should come as no surprise that another Washington DC area school district ranks among the top paying school districts in the country.  This district is made up of twelve elementary schools, two K-8 academies, two middle schools and two high schools, including the famous TC Williams high school memorialized by the movie Remember the Titans.  Given the district’s proximity to our nation’s capital and the center of the South,  there will definitely be many ways to spend the above average salary a first year teacher can make in the state of Virginia.

#11. Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, MD ($47,106)

As a metropolitan area of both Washington D.C. and Baltimore, MD, residents of Montgomery County have access to the perks of two of the country’s most influential cities.  Montgomery County’s Public School district is the largest in Maryland with over 140,000 students in 200 schools.   Named the tenth wealthiest county in the U.S., Montgomery County school district has access to significant resources, making it one of the best funded school districts in a state that has ranked number one on Education Week’s report card for five years in a row.

#12. Springdale Public Schools, Springdale, AR ($45,820)

The Springdale Public Schools are at the top of the Arkansas pay scale for all teachers.  Nestled between Fayetteville and Bentonville,  this school district offers the first year teacher a decent salary and great amenities, including the University of Arkansas and a major regional airport.  Although Springdale has earned the title of the Poultry Capital of the world due to the presence of Tyson Foods, the beauty of this growing town nestled in the Ozarks offers excellent educational opportunities for students and teachers alike.

#13. Warren Consolidated Schools, Warren, MI ($45,398)

The Warren Consolidated School District is situated in the Northeast Detroit suburbs of Warren, Sterling Heights and Troy.  Of the district’s twenty-five schools, sixteen have earned the recognition of being Michigan Blue Ribbon Exemplary Schools which has added value and appeal to the community.  Unique to this district are two partial day schools which draw students from the surrounding area, one which focuses on career preparation and another on mathematics, science and technology.  Serving Metro Detroit’s largest suburbs places you in a region of the country that has drivable access to Southern Ontario and the growing Great Lakes Megalopolis.

#14. The School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA ($45,360)

The City of Brotherly Love lives up to its name for all first year teachers with a starting salary in the top ten percent of the nation.  Given its proximity to Washington DC, New York City and the eastern Atlantic, there are plenty of options for enrichment for teachers and students alike.  The SDP is the eighth largest school district in the U.S. and is primarily urban.  The last several years have been a challenge for this district with some school closings and layoffs, but a recent restructuring promises a brighter future.

#15. School District 65 Evanston/Skokie, Evanston, IL ($44,900)

North of Chicago along the CTA’s Purple Line you will find the city of Evanston,  Illinois,  home of the highest paid first year teachers in the state.  Serving Evanston and Skokie, this district is comprised of one early childhood center, ten elementary schools, two K-8 academies, three middle schools and two campuses to meet students specific needs.  Given this district’s close proximity to Chicago and a salary that starts $8,000 above the average for Illinois, this district has much to offer a novice teacher.

#16. Woodford County Schools, Versailles, KY ($44,600)

This small district, made up of one high school, one middle school and four elementary schools, is nestled in beautiful Woodford County, KY.  Known for its Bourbon trail and beautiful horse farms, Woodford offers a small-town feel with easy access to larger urban areas such as Lexington, Frankfurt and Louisville.  Focused on the five values of Partnership, Respect, Integrity, Determination and Excellence, Woodford County School District has taken steps to be relevant in today’s society by integrating Chinese language acquisition and orchestra in its schools.  Those drawn to rural lifestyle in a community that boasts some of the world’s finest agricultural land will thrive in this outstanding and well-paying school district.

#17. St. Tammany Parish Schools, Covington, LA ($44,284)

St. Tammany Parish, the most affluent Parish in Louisiana, is located just north of New Orleans and is commonly known as North Shore due to its location on Lake Pontchartrain.  With the unique culture of New Orleans and the beauty of the Gulf Coast in its backyard, this Parish which pays its first year teachers on average $6000.00 more than other districts is sure to be a draw for novice teachers.  Additionally St. Tammany Parish schools are consistently ranked at the top of all school districts in the state.

#18. West Des Moines Community Schools, West Des Moines, IA ($43,437)

If you have always wanted to live close to the country and enjoy all the great freedom that comes with that, West Des Moines Community Schools is a great fit.  Cost of living in this community is just below the national average and with a starting salary well above the state average this could be a wonderful start.  WDMCS boasts an enrollment of just over 9,000 students that populate its 13 schools.  This is a primarily suburban district that borders Des Moines the capital of Iowa which was named one of the top 100 places to live by Money Magazine and Business Weekly.

#19. Bismarck Public Schools, Bismarck, ND ($42,605)

With the recent oil boom in North Dakota chances are you or a loved one might be heading to North Dakota.  This district of fifteen elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools and one alternative high school is the perfect place to find your own oil fortune.  With a cost of living well below the national average and a starting pay higher than half the states in the country, Bismarck might be a good place to plant roots.

#20. Shelby County Schools, Memphis, TN ($42,343)

NSYNC and Elvis references aside, Memphis has been a pivotal cultural mecca for decades.  Coupled with a history of Civil Rights and the sacrifice that came with that, this community has much to offer a first year teacher that goes beyond a pay check.  That being said, a first year teacher will stand to make more than $9,000 above the state lowest paid novice teachers.  This mostly urban district is comprised of nearly thirty elementary schools, fifteen middle schools and eight high schools.

#21. Boulder Valley School District, Boulder, CO ($41,901)

Beautiful vistas and mountain ranges will greet you as you start your first year teaching if you come to Boulder Valley School District.  The average pay for a first year teacher in other parts of Colorado is $11,000 lower than what you will earn in BVSD.  The district serves several communities including Boulder, Nederland, and Superior along with all or parts of eight smaller communities.  This consolidation makes BVSD a rather large district with almost forty elementary schools, sixteen middle schools and a dozen high schools.

#22. Blue Valley Public Schools, Overland Park, KS ($41,900)

Blue Valley Public School District is located in Overland Park, a suburb a quick thirty minute drive from Kansas City which is touted as the hottest tourist attraction in the Midwest.  This school district, which is home to over 20,000 students housed in 34 schools, boasts significant academic progress as measured by NCLB’s Annual Yearly Progress.  For those nature enthusiasts, Blue Valley offers a unique educational experience for all ages in its Wilderness Science Center located on the Blue River.  Because of the top ratings of this school district and the low cost of living and low crime in the area, Overland Park is one of only three cities in the nation to make the list of the top ten places to live – especially for families and children – since 2006.

#23. Minnetonka Public Schools, Minnetonka, MN ($41,564)

Minnetonka Public Schools serve over 9,500 students from ten communities west of Minneapolis and touts some of the highest school rankings in Minnesota and the nation.  With very high graduation rates and college bound students, in addition to a starting salary $7000.00 over the state average, Minnetonka schools would be an ideal destination for first year teachers.  In addition to quality schools, the region is abundantly rich in water with many lakes, rivers and waterfalls which adds beauty and excellent recreational opportunities for the residents.

#24. York School District, York, ME ($41,555)

This southern County in Maine has it all – beaches, mountains and rich history dating back to 1624.  It is also a quick one hour drive from Boston  – the urban hub of the upper Northeast. The beauty of the region has made it a fashionable summer resort location.   With starting teacher salaries $10,000 more than Maine’s average, this coastal area could easily be your home year-round.  Being a small district with two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school, a new teacher will be less likely to get lost in the system and receive the support needed to start a successful teaching career.

#25. Blaine County School District, Hailey, ID ($40,918)

If the great outdoors is your preference, the beautiful community of Hailey, Idaho is what have been looking for.  Blaine County School District pays almost $8,000 above the average pay rate for a first year teacher in Idaho.  Given the better than average pay and affordable cost of living this could be a match made in heaven.

#26. Vermont- School Administrative Unit 70, Norwich, VT/Hannover, NH ($40,541)

Touting itself as the nation’s first interstate school district, this school district connects both Norwich Vermont and Hanover New Hampshire.  With the esteemed Dartmouth College nearby, one can expect a school district with a great academic record.  A plethora of arts and cultural activities can be found in this Upper Valley community along the Connecticut River.  A respectable salary in the low $40,000 range also helps.  This district has only four schools two elementary, on middle and one high school so keep you eye out for openings; the link below will help on that journey.

#27. Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami, FL ($40,500)

Palm trees and mojitos will greet you in this lush community in south Florida and so will a job at the highest paying school district for first year teachers in the state.  Though the cost of living is a bit higher than the national average,  the pay at this district is very competitive as compared to other industries.  Primarily an urban school district, Miami Dade County Public Schools is one of only a few school districts in the country to offer international study programs and a focus on bilingual education.

#28. Fulton County School District, Atlanta, GA ($40,308)

Fulton County School District serves a primarily suburban community comprised of several communities north of the Atlanta City limits.  All in all, this school district serves 94,000 students and employs roughly 7,500 teachers along with approximately 4,000 other staff members.  Given its proximity to Atlanta, a lower than average cost of living and the highest pay rate for all teachers in Georgia, the FCSD is a prime spot for a first year teacher to get his or her start.

#29. Capital School District, Dover, DE ($40,228)

The Capital School District is small in size with seven elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school.  But what it lacks in size, it makes up with its core values of collaboration and respectfulness.  If your loved one is in the Air Force, chances are Dover will be your home at one point.  This district has had some academic success in the recent past and continues to strive for higher achievement.  Why not join a great district with a solid foundation?

#30. Park City School District, Park City, UT ($40,000)

Nestled in the South Snyderville Basin is the beautiful community of Park City, Utah.  With a starting salary several thousand dollars above the state average one can almost see themselves taking a quick snow trip during school breaks.  PCSD has a state recognized high school for its Advanced Placement achievements and consistently ranks among the top in terms of performance for the state of Utah.

#31. Janesville School District, Janesville, WI ($39,960)

Janesville, WI is just south of both Madison and Milwaukee.  This places a first year teacher in a community with the amenities that both a college town and a large metropolitan city have to offer.  It doesn’t hurt that Janesville is among the top paying school districts in the state.  The SDJ is a decent sized district of roughly 10,400 students with twelve elementary schools, four early childhood centers, three middle, and two high schools.

#32. Tacoma Public Schools, Tacoma, WA ($39,473)

Tacoma, Washington might be next to the economic powerhouse of the Pacific Northwest, but its starting teachers make several thousand more dollars than their counterparts in Seattle.  TPS has thirty-three schools that have earned the Innovative School Designation by the state of Washington.  Additionally TPS has thirty five elementary schools, ten middle schools and five high schools.  This district is big enough to need a new crop of teachers yearly and if living in an affordable part of the northwest is what you’re looking for, look no farther.

#33. Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, NE ($39,143)

Lincoln Public Schools is the sole public school district in Lincoln, Nebraska making it the 2nd largest in the state educating over 35,000 students at 57 schools.  As the state capitol and 2nd most populous city in the state, residents enjoy deep school pride in the University of Nebraska, good food, and a night life rooted in the diversity of a major college town.  The low cost of living and low unemployment contribute to the distinction of the city being the Healthiest and Happiest City according to a 2013 Gallop Poll.  With first year teachers earning over $9,000 more than their peers throughout the state, they too could find themselves rooted and happy in the Cornhusker state.

#34. Phoenix Union High School District, Phoenix, AZ ($38,828)

If you like it hot, you will want to consider starting your teaching career at the Phoenix Union High School District.  The district recently received great news as eight of its fourteen schools received either the highest or second highest ratings possible.  As the name suggests, this district is comprised of all high schools and pays its first year teachers about $7,000 above the state average for first year teachers.  In terms of lifestyle options Phoenix is one of the largest cities in the southwest with a large airport and close proximity to other major cities and plenty of out door recreation opportunities.

#35. Stratham School Administrative Union 16, Exeter, NH ($38,658)

The Stratham School Administrative Unit spans six beautiful sea coastal towns in New Hampshire – fifty miles North of Boston and 50 miles South of Portland.  The region has a long and sordid history dating back to the early 1600s and the arrival of colonists in this country.   New Hampshire has structured its schools by administrative units pulling together multiple cities and their school boards into units that oversee schools organized by grade.  The Stratham School Administrative Unit 16 oversees six towns and their schools serving children through fifth grade.  New elementary school teachers would thrive in this unique setting which would focus on the needs of elementary aged children and those educators who serve them.

#36. Portland Public Schools, Portland, OR ($38,046)

Portland public schools date back to the mid 1800’s when the one full time teacher had to supplement his salary by working at the docks on the Columbia River.  Thankfully teachers in Portland are paid a better wage these days; in fact, a first year teacher will make $5,000 per year more working in Portland Public School  than at any other district in Oregon.  Coupled with the majesty of the City of Roses and all the outdoors has to offer, this is a great place to land.

#37. Providence Schools, Providence, RI ($37,740)

Boasting a 26:1 teacher student ration and a starting salary that is competitive for the east coast, Providence Schools is an ideal employer for a first year teacher.  The student body sits at roughly 23,000 spread over 43 schools.  This district has made great strides in meeting the needs of all its students including it special needs population and growing Latino student body.

#38. Auburn City Schools, Auburn, AL ($37,677)

Half a mile east of one of the South’s most prestigious universities is the central offices of Auburn City School. This district of roughly 7,000 students boasts one high school, two middle schools and seven elementary schools. The starting salary for a first year teacher in this school district is roughly $1,000 over the average salary in Alabama. Coupled with the presence of a world class university there will be plenty of entertainment and enrichment options for a newcomer to this community.

#39. Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Cleveland, OH ($37,412)

Cleveland Metropolitan School District is a large urban school district that encompasses the vast majority of the city of Cleveland.  The district is comprised of five traditional elementary schools, sixty K-8 schools, and nearly twenty high schools.  Given the realities that many urban school districts face, CMSD has endured some challenges but appears to be making strides in the recent plan laid out by the school board that focuses on governance and accountability.

#40. Billings Public Schools, Billings, MT ($36,821)

For nature enthusiasts, Billings Public Schools offers first year teachers a beautiful natural environment surrounded by six mountain ranges to explore in addition to a starting salary which is $10,000 more than the state average.  With a population just over 100,000, Billings is the largest city in Montana and offers the perks of a major metropolitan area including an airport and universities while being just over two hours from Yellowstone National Park.

#41. Indianapolis Public Schools, Indianapolis, IN ($35,684)

In the mostly rural state of Indiana, public school teachers tend to earn lower salaries, but the Indianapolis Public Schools offers a higher than average pay rate for first year teachers and is among the top three overall for all teachers in regards to pay and other benefits.  Cost of living is just below average for the nation and given the amenities a large city offers, this is a great place to get started in education.  The IPS is primarily an urban school district with around 40,000 students and a variety of schools including 49 elementary schools, two middle schools, seven high schools and several other non-traditional campuses.

#42. Clark County School District, Las Vegas, NV ($35,449)

Feeling Lucky?  First year teachers should try their hand at employment in the Clark County School District.  Ranking as the 5th largest district in the United States, Clark County covers the cities of Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City and Mesquite and educates over 300,000 students.  With the natural beauty and endless entertainment of the region, this school district offers plenty of excitement for anyone.

#43. Rankin County School District, Brandon, MS ($34,890)

If the history of the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, Gospel, Blues and Jazz music, and good ol’ Southern home cooking make you feel at home, Rankin County School District should be on your top list of districts to explore. Located just outside of Jackson, Mississippi, Rankin has twenty-seven schools which serve 19,500 students and provides well-rounded education that includes rigorous academics and engaging extracurricular activities.

#44. Norman Public Schools, Norman, OK ($34,292)

Norman Public Schools is populated by over 15,000 students and can be considered a suburb of Oklahoma City, but with its own unique feel and history.  With seventeen elementary schools, four middle schools and two high schools this is a medium sized district.  Teacher salaries in Oklahoma are generally in the lower half of the nation, but in Norman you will be compensated well enough to afford a cost of living that is relatively low as compared to metro OKC.

#45. Jefferson County Schools, Charles Town, WV ($33,616)

Charles Town, West Virginia is where you will find the Jefferson County School District.  First year teachers earn right above the state average in this district, and given its proximity to Washington DC, there are sure to be plenty of outlets if beautiful scenery is not your cup of tea.  There are plenty of opportunities to thrive as students and educators in the district’s seventeen schools which include ten elementary, two intermediate, four middle and one high school.

#46. Cabarrus County Schools, Concord, NC ($33,600)

Just twenty miles northeast of Charlotte is the home of the highest paid first year teachers in North Carolina.  Job prospects abound in this district of nearly 30,000 students.  There are seven high schools with a feeder pattern averaging five elementary schools and two middle schools.  The geography consists of rolling hills and lush Carolina forest land.  This community of 70,000 inhabitants has just the right mix of city life coupled with country living.

#47. Rock Hill School District, Rock Hill, SC ($33,544)

A short drive on south Interstate 77 from Charlotte, you will find Rock Hill School District which is part of York County District 3.  This moderate sized school district has sixteen elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools and four special campuses.  Given its close proximity to Charlotte and other major cities in the South this could be a great place for someone seeking a small school district with decent pay.

#48. Hawaii Department of Education, Honolulu, HI ($33,169)

Did you know that Hawaii has one school district?  All schools in Hawaii are administered by the Hawaii Department of Education.  The HDOE is comprised of a nine member board that is appointed by the governor and serve three year terms.  This consolidation means more efficiency and communication between communities and has translated into some good results as evidenced by a recent $75 million dollar Race to the Top Grant meant to ensure student success.

#49. Albuquerque Public Schools, Albuquerque, NM ($32,000)

Located just west of New York City, Newark, New Jersey is a city that has faced many challenges over the past years but which finds itself as an up and coming city with strategic plans to better its educational institutions.  Newark Public Schools are some of the oldest in the Nation dating back to 1676.  The rich history and ethnic diversity of this community will prove to be a positive environment for first year teachers committed to the education of all children.

#50. Rapid City Area Schools, Rapid City, SD ($30,753)

Though not as wealthy as its neighbor to the north, South Dakota does boast some beautiful territory.  Encompassed in this vast outdoor play land are some monuments including Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument.  Rapid City is the home of the highest paid teachers in the state and particularly for a first year teacher.  RCAS is comprised of fifteen elementary schools, five middle schools, and four high schools.  If wide open spaces are your thing, Rapid City is waiting.

1 thought on “50 Highest Paying School Districts for First Year Teachers”

  1. The article is highly inaccurate. I am a senior in college majoring in elementary education. There are several Title 1 districts and schools across the country that have much higher starting salaries than those listed above. Articles like these are contribute to the grave problem of low income districts and schools not getting educators they need a deserve. Delete this article.

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