NCES Blog

National Center for Education Statistics

A Closer Look at Teacher Income

Full-time teachers in public school earned an average of $59,050 from all income sources in the 2015–16 school year. This income includes teachers’ base teaching salary, as well as additional sources of income from their schools or districts, jobs outside the school system, and summer activities. To capture the different ways that teachers can earn income, the 2015-16 National Teacher and Principal Survey asked teachers questions about how much they earned from various sources:

  • Base teaching salary. Teachers’ average base teaching salary was $55,120 for the 2015-16 school year.
  • School supplement. About 44 percent of teachers received additional compensation for extracurricular or additional activities in their school system, such as coaching, sponsoring student activities, mentoring teachers, or teaching evening classes. These teachers earned an average of $2,630 for these activities.
  • Merit pay. Some teachers earned merit pay or pay-for-performance income based on their students’ performance. About 6 percent of teachers received this type of additional compensation, with an average amount awarded of $1,470.
  • Other school system support. About 8 percent of teachers received income during the school year from some other source in their school system, such as a state supplement, for an average of $2,670.
  • Outside jobs. During the 2015-16 school year, 18 percent of teachers held a job outside the school system, earning an average of $5,140. Teachers categorized these jobs as teaching or tutoring (5 percent), non-teaching but related to the teaching field (4 percent), or in another field (9 percent).
  • Summer jobs. In the summer of 2015, before the start of the 2015-16 school year, 20 percent of teachers earned income from either a school-based teaching position, such as teaching summer school, or a non-teaching position, and 16 percent earned income from a non-school job. Teachers earned an average of $2,700 from school-based summer positions, and an average of $4,060 in a non-school job.

To learn about teachers’ satisfaction with their teaching salary, more information is available in the short report Teacher Satisfaction with Salary and Current Job.

The National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) includes data on a wide variety of other topics as well. Visit the website to learn more.

By Maura Spiegelman

Announcing the Condition of Education 2018 Release

We are pleased to present The Condition of Education 2018, a congressionally mandated annual report summarizing the latest data on education in the United States. This report is designed to help policymakers and the public monitor educational progress. This year’s report includes 47 indicators on topics ranging from prekindergarten through postsecondary education, as well as labor force outcomes and international comparisons. 

In addition to the regularly updated annual indicators, this year’s spotlight indicators highlight new findings from recent NCES surveys. The first spotlight indicator examines the choices and costs that families face as they select early childhood care arrangements. Drawing on data from the NCES National Household Education Survey, the indicator finds that early childhood care expenses were higher in 2016 than in 2001. For example, families’ average hourly out-of-pocket expenses for center-based care were 72 percent higher in 2016 ($7.60) than in 2001 ($4.42), in constant 2016–17 dollars. The indicator also finds that in 2016, some 57 percent of children under the age of 6 had parents who reported there were good choices for child care where they lived. Among children whose parents reported difficulty finding child care in 2016, some 32 percent cited cost as the primary reason. The complete indicator, Early Childhood Care Arrangements: Choices and Costs, contains more information about how these findings varied by family income, race/ethnicity, locale (urban, suburban, town, or rural), and children’s age.


Average hourly out-of-pocket child care expense for children under 6 years old and not yet in kindergarten whose families paid for child care, by primary type of child care arrangement: 2001 and 2016

1 Center-based arrangements include day care centers, Head Start programs, preschools, prekindergartens, and childhood programs.
NOTE: Estimates include only those children whose families paid at least part of the cost out of pocket for their child to receive nonparental care at least weekly.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Early Childhood Program Participation Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (ECPP-NHES: 2001 and 2016). See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 202.30c.


The second spotlight describes the characteristics of teachers who entered the teaching profession through an alternative route to certification program. Compared to those who entered through a traditional route, higher percentages of alternative route teachers in 2015–16 were Black (13 vs. 5 percent), Hispanic (15 vs. 8 percent), of Two or more races (2 vs. 1 percent), and male (32 vs. 22 percent), and lower percentages were White (66 vs. 83 percent). Overall, 18 percent of public school teachers in 2015–16 had entered teaching through an alternative route to certification program. The percentages were higher among those who taught career or technical education (37 percent), natural sciences (28 percent), foreign languages (26 percent), English as a second language (24 percent), math and computer science (22 percent), and special education (20 percent). The analysis also examines how the prevalence of alternative route teachers varies between charter schools and traditional public schools, between high and low poverty schools, and between schools that enroll high or low percentages of racial/ethnic minority students. For more findings from this analysis of data from the National Teacher and Principal Survey, see the complete indicator, Characteristics of Public School Teachers Who Completed Alternative Route to Certification Programs.


Percentage distribution of public elementary and secondary school teachers, by route to certification and race/ethnicity: 2015–16

NOTE: Teachers were asked whether they entered teaching through an alternative route to certification program, which is a program that was designed to expedite the transition of nonteachers to a teaching career (for example, a state, district, or university alternative route to certification program). Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Data for American Indian/Alaska Native teachers who entered teaching through a traditional route and Pacific Islander teachers who entered teaching through traditional and alternative routes round to zero and are not displayed.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public School Teacher Data File,” 2015–16. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 209.24.


The third spotlight presents data on average student loan balances for students completing graduate degrees. Using data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, this indicator examines how average student loan balances changed between 1999–2000 and 2015–16, and how those trends varied by degree type. Among graduate school completers who had student loans for undergraduate or graduate studies, average student loan balances increased for all degree types (in constant 2016–17 dollars). For example, average student loan balances for students who completed research doctorate degrees, such as a Ph.D., doubled during this time period, from $53,500 to $108,400 (an increase of 103 percent). Average student loan balances increased by 90 percent for those who completed professional doctorate degrees, such as medical doctorates and law degrees (from $98,200 to $186,600). The complete indicator, Trends in Student Loan Debt for Graduate School Completers, also describes how average student loan balances varied among specific degree programs, such as medical doctorates, law degrees, and master’s degrees in business administration.


Average cumulative student loan balance for graduate school completers, by degree type: Selected years, 1999–2000 through 2015–16

1 Includes chiropractic, dentistry, law, medicine, optometry, pharmacy, podiatry, and veterinary medicine. 
NOTE: Data refer to students who completed graduate degrees in the academic years indicated. Includes student loans for undergraduate and graduate studies. Average excludes students with no student loans.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1999–2000, 2003–04, 2007–08, 2011–12, and 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:2000, NPSAS:04, NPSAS:08, NPSAS:12, and NPSAS:16). See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 332.45.


The Condition includes an At a Glance section, which allows readers to quickly make comparisons within and across indicators, and a Highlights section, which captures key findings from each indicator. The report contains a Reader’s Guide, a Glossary, and a Guide to Sources that provide additional background information. Each indicator provides links to the source data tables used to produce the analyses.

As new data are released throughout the year, indicators will be updated and made available on The Condition of Education website. In addition, NCES produces a wide range of reports and datasets designed to help inform policymakers and the public. For more information on our latest activities and releases, please visit our website or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

By James L. Woodworth, NCES Commissioner 

High Job Satisfaction Among Teachers, but Leadership Matters

By Lauren Musu-Gillette

Are teachers satisfied with their jobs? Overall, the answer appears to be yes. However, a recent NCES report highlights that teacher job satisfaction differs by school characteristics.

Newly released data shows that at least 9 out of 10 teachers reported that they were satisfied with their jobs in 2003–04, 2007–08, and 2011–12. A higher percentage of private school teachers than public school teachers reported that they were satisfied with their jobs in all of these years.


Percent of teachers reporting they were satisfied in their jobs: School years 2003–04, 2007–08, and 2011–12

NOTE: “Satisfied” teachers are those who responded “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” to the statement: “I am generally satisfied with being a teacher at this school.”
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS).


Differences in teacher job satisfaction also emerged based on perceptions of administrative support.[i] In 2011–12, a higher percentage of teachers who believed that the administration in their schools was supportive were satisfied with their jobs. Among teachers who felt that the administration in their schools was supportive, 95 percent were satisfied with their jobs. This was 30 percentage points higher than the percentage of teachers did not feel the administration was supportive. This pattern was seen in private schools as well and is consistent with previous research that demonstrates the importance of schools administrators to teachers’ working conditions.[ii]   


Percent of satisfied teachers, by their perceptions of administrative support: School year 2011–12

NOTE: “Satisfied” teachers are those who responded “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” to the statement: “I am generally satisfied with being a teacher at this school.”
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS).


[i] Support was measured by teachers’ agreement or disagreement with the statement “The school administration’s behavior toward the staff is supportive and encouraging.”
[ii] Ladd, H. F. (2011). Teachers’ Perceptions of Their Working Conditions: How Predictive of Planned and Actual Teacher Movement? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33(2): 235-261.

Announcing the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS): Redesigning a key data collection effort

By Amy Ho and Chelsea Owens

Teachers and principals form the foundation of the educational process, but there are not a lot of nationally representative, federal data on the characteristics and experiences of these key staff. The Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) has historically been one of the few federal data collections in this area. Since 1987, SASS has provided important data to researchers, policymakers, and leaders in education to help answer critical questions about schools, teachers, principals, and students, including:

  • How well prepared and supported are new teachers?
  • What do principals consider as their most important goal?
  • Have the characteristics of the principal and teacher workforces changed over time?

As one of the few large scale data collection efforts that directly surveys teachers and principals about their own experiences, SASS has historically served as the nation’s primary data source for information on topics such as teachers’ and principals’ demographic characteristics, teachers’ attitudes about teaching and school conditions, teachers’ qualifications, and teachers’ experiences with intimidation or violence in schools.

While the information obtained from SASS has been an important contribution to our knowledge of the experiences of teachers and principals, changes to the structure of teaching and the desire to better align multiple data collection efforts led NCES to revise the existing SASS instrument. Therefore, NCES launched a redesign of this data collection effort. The new survey, the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) includes updated features such as revised questions that can address pressing topics in the field (e.g., use of technology in the classroom, teacher and principal evaluations, etc.).

The NTPS will be administered for the first time this coming school year (2015-16) and will be conducted every two years in order to provide timely data. There are four main components of the NTPS: School Questionnaire, Principal Questionnaire, Teacher Listing Form, and Teacher Questionnaire. In late August, NCES sent out the first questionnaires to a sample of American schools. A school selected to participate in the NTPS will represent thousands of other schools in the nation.

The School Questionnaire asks about length of the school day, how difficult it is to fill vacancies at the school, and community-service graduation requirements. The Principal Questionnaire asks questions on parent/guardian involvement, how often problems such as bullying and gang activities occur, how teachers and principals are evaluated, and principals’ top goals. The Teacher Questionnaire includes questions involving teacher satisfaction, use of instructional software in the classroom, teacher perceptions of autonomy, and experiences during teachers’ first year of teaching.

The participation of teachers, principals, and other staff in the 2015-16 NTPS will greatly help policymakers and leaders in education improve schools for our students, teachers, and principals by looking at the current status of these issues.  In the United States, the needs and challenges facing each school are sometimes vastly different, but the NTPS data can provide information for meeting these needs.

For more information on NTPS, please visit: http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/ntps/overview.asp.