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Status of Education in Rural America
NCES 2007-040
June 2007

3.10 Average base salary for full-time public school teachers


Public school teachers in rural areas earned, on average, lower salaries in 2003–04 than their peers in towns, suburbs, and cities, even after adjusting for geographic cost differences.

In the 2003–04 school year, the national average (mean) base salary for full-time public school teachers was $44,400 (table 3.10). In order to accurately compare teacher salaries across various locales, the data presented in this indicator have been adjusted to reflect geographic cost differences (such as cost-of-living differences).1 Comparing these geographically adjusted base salaries, full-time public school teachers in rural areas had a lower average salary ($43,000) than their peers in towns ($45,900), suburbs ($45,700), and cities ($44,000).

Full-time public school teachers with a bachelor's degree as their highest level of education earned less on average in rural areas ($38,800) than in towns ($41,600), but no measurable difference was detected between the salaries of these teachers in rural areas and in cities or suburbs (figure 3.10). Teachers with a master's degree as their highest level of education also earned less on average in rural areas ($48,400) than in both suburban areas ($50,600) and towns ($51,200). The average salary for rural public school teachers with a master's degree as their highest degree was equivalent to the salary of their peers in cities. No differences were detected between the average salaries of teachers in rural areas with more than a master's degree and teachers with similar educational attainment in other locales. However, teachers with an education specialist degree ($50,200) earned less on average in rural areas than their peers in suburban areas ($55,100).


1 NCES's Comparable Wage Index (CWI) was used to adjust for geographic cost differences. For more details on the CWI, see A Comparable Wage Approach to Geographic Cost Adjustment (NCES 2006-321).

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