It's no secret that the reward in a teaching career is typically not measured in dollar signs, but in the difference educators can make on the lives of their students.
While you won't challenge Elon Musk on the next Forbes list as a teacher, you also aren't signing up for pro bono work. After all, teachers still have to pay their bills and save up for that next family vacation.
The good news is that with a rising enrollment across the Lone Star State, school districts are staying competitive with their salaries, so there is a way for teachers to have both a rewarding career and a paycheck that brings a smile.
Factors That Influence Salaries
Your teaching salary is a combination of several factors with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) setting a minimum of $33,660 for teachers with no experience. That minimum rises to $38,880 for teachers with 5+ years experience; to $45,630 for 10+ years and $54,540 with 20+ experience.
The three main salary factors are:
Location: Like any good real estate agent knows, it's always "location, location, location.” You will make, on average, a higher salary at larger school districts in metropolitan areas in Texas in cities such as Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth. Of course, these areas need to offer a higher salary to teachers as the cost of living is higher than in other areas of the state.
Background: The more experience you have as a teacher the higher your salary will be. Teachers will also increase their salaries in most districts with advanced degrees. For career changers, a background with prized experience may translate into a better salary.
High Need Disciplines: This is a basic "supply and demand" issue. If you are a teacher in a high-need area, then you may be offered a higher salary. Currently, the most in demand teaching jobs in Texas are:
Bilingual and English as a Second Language (ESL)
Career Technical Education (CTE)
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
When looking for the highest paying teaching jobs in Texas don't forget to factor in any other benefits offered by school districts such as health care options and retirement packages.
In fact, recent state legislation that boosted Texas teachers’ salaries also increased the amount in contributions the state makes to the Teacher Retirement System.
Highest paying Jobs by Age Group
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) reports average base pay for teachers in every school district in Texas. We took a look to see where the highest paying jobs are by age group, region, district, and alternative schools.
The average base pay for teachers in Texas for 2018-19 was $54,122. (It’s important to note this number does not reflect minimum salary structure lawmakers passed at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.)
The highest-paid group was secondary school teachers (grades 7-12) who had an average base pay of $60,936. The next highest-paid group was teachers who did not fit into a specific category who had an average base of $56,818 and secondary school teachers who taught at schools with grades 9-12 with an average of $55,028.
Kindergarten teachers came in at an average base pay of $53,462.
Taking a closer look at the elementary and middle school age groups, grade 5 teachers were at the top of the pay ladder with an average base pay of $53,875. The other grades:
Grade 2 - $53,766
Grade 6 - $53,693
Grade 1 - $53,556
Grade 4 - $53,552
Grade 8 - $53,536
Grade 3 - $53,534
Grade 7 - $53,150
Highest paying Jobs by Region
Out of the 20 education regions in Texas, those with large metropolitan areas have the highest average base pay with Region 4 (Houston) coming in tops at $57,707 followed by Region 11 (Forth Worth) at $56,985;Region 10 (Dallas) at $55,934; and then Region 20 (San Antonio) at $55,011.
Other Regions with average base pay over $50,000 included:
Edinburg (Brownsville) $54,524
El Paso $52,820
Corpus Christi $51,509
Highest paying Jobs by District
One of the highest paying salaries for traditional Independent School Districts is Barbers Hill ISD in Chambers County with its 396 full-time teachers earning an average of $71,069. Also, Borden County ISD, with just 20 full-time teachers, has a base average salary of $64,804.
Other school districts paying an average of $60,000+ include:
San Vicente ISD $63,037
Grady ISD $62,705
Deer Park ISD $61,836
Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD $61,803
Crowley ISD $61,325
Lackland ISD $61,210
Mansfield ISD $60,595
Highest paying jobs at Alternative Schools
For those teachers that want to channel their inner Jerry Maguire's ("Show me the money!) they need to look at alternative schools across the state such as the open enrollment charter Academy for Academic Excellence in Dallas that has an eye-popping average teacher base pay of $80,859.
The Houston area has the Draw Academy ($57,698) and A+ Unlimited Potential ($75,934) open enrollment charter schools that will put teachers at the top of the pay scale.
With a rising enrollment in schools across Texas, the need for teachers (especially in specialized areas) is great. While some districts located in larger metropolitan areas pay average salaries more than $50,000, some districts in rural areas struggle to keep up.
However, the good news is that across the board, salaries rose this year thanks to a new bill that boosted salaries and retirement contributions. The goal is to give districts in the state an advantage in recruitment while answering teacher shortage issues many schools and districts currently face.
Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank.
In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.
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