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Teacher Salary With a Master’s: Maximizing Your Earning Potential

November 20, 2022

Teachers play a profoundly important role in society. Not only do they prepare younger generations with the knowledge and insights needed to become the leaders of the future, but they also act as role models and mentors.

Educators who are interested in pursuing leadership roles, such as principal or superintendent, and want to maximize their teacher salary with a master’s degree are likely to find that a graduate program, such as American University’s online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), can arm them with the skills to follow their passions.

Teacher Job Description and Work Environment 

Teachers’ job duties vary depending on the age of their students. For example, kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct on basic subjects, such as reading, spelling, and math. Middle school teachers help students build on fundamentals from K-6 to prepare them for high school.

High school teachers, on the other hand, often specialize in a single subject, such as algebra, geometry, calculus, a foreign language, history, English, chemistry, biology, or physics. Additionally, while elementary and middle school students typically teach one particular grade, high school teachers may teach different grades throughout the day. 

Despite these differences, K-12 teachers can share similar tasks, such as the following:

  • Preparing lesson plans
  • Assessing students to identify their strengths
  • Communicating with students’ parents about their academic progress
  • Helping prepare students for standardized, state-mandated tests
  • Developing classroom rules
  • Grading students’ exams and assignments
  • Supervising students during lunch or recess, as needed

Most teachers work on campus, Monday through Friday, during school hours; however, they may need to attend after-school meetings with school administrators, other teachers, or students’ parents. Additionally, teachers who work a standardized school year often work for 10 months, starting in August or September, and have two months off during the summer. Short midwinter and springtime breaks are also common. 

Teachers who work in a district with a year-round school year, on the other hand, often work nine weeks on, three weeks off. 

Projected Job Growth for Teachers

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment within all education occupations to grow by 10 percent between 2020 and 2030, which is about as fast as the average projected job growth. Two key factors, among others, will drive the demand for teachers: rising student enrollment and the need to replace existing teachers who leave the workforce—such as to raise a family, care for an aging parent, or retire—or who transfer to other professions.

Typical Teacher Salary With a Master’s Degree vs. a Bachelor’s Degree

Teacher salaries with a master’s degree vary widely based on a variety of factors, such as the teacher’s experience level and whether they work for a public or private school. However, generally speaking, getting a master’s degree can improve a teacher’s earning potential.

For example, in April 2022, the National Education Association’s Collective Bargaining and Member Advocacy Department found that the average starting salary was $41,770 for teachers with a bachelor’s degree and $45,391 for teachers with a master’s degree in the 2020-2021 school year. The same report also found that the top salary was $60,381 for teachers with a bachelor’s degree and $70,279 for teachers with a master’s degree—almost a $10,000 difference. 

On the other hand, the BLS notes that as of May 2021, educators with significant experience, many of whom have completed an advanced education, reported median annual wages of more than $103,310.

Geography also plays a role in teachers’ salaries. The BLS also reports that during that same period, the annual mean wage for elementary school teachers in Texas was $59,210, whereas teachers in California reported receiving an annual mean wage of $86,470. The BLS reports similar wage statistics for middle and high school teachers, depending on whether they work in states with a lower cost of living or a higher cost of living. 

Other Benefits of Earning a Master of Arts in Teaching

Educators who’ve completed an advanced education not only increase their earning potential but also can gain other benefits from having a MAT degree. For example, professionals with a master’s degree had lower unemployment rates than bachelor’s degree holders as of May 2022, according to the BLS.

MAT graduates also tend to enjoy additional career advancement opportunities given that many leadership roles—such as school administrator, school principal, and school superintendent—require candidates to hold at least a master’s degree. Additionally, leadership positions typically command higher salaries: The BLS notes that as of May 2021, the median annual wage for elementary, middle school, and high school principals was $98,420.

Other advanced positions available to MAT degree holders may include the following:

Earn Your MAT and Shape the Lives of Tomorrow’s Leaders

Educators interested in furthering their passion for teaching are likely to find that earning an advanced degree, such as a Master of Arts in Teaching, can prepare them with the skills and knowledge needed to become more impactful. With a curriculum rooted in anti-racist pedagogy and practice-based education, American University’s online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) can help prospective teachers become leaders in contemporary education.

Are you ready to delve into a graduate program designed to help you make greater contributions within dynamic learning environments? Discover how AU’s online MAT can help prepare you to become a leader in your field.