2015’s Best Places to Be a Teacher in the U.S.

Update: These rankings have been updated for 2016 here

Teaching is often lamented as one of the most demanding (and lowest paid) professions. During the Recession, states across the country were forced to cut education funding – and with it teacher salaries. But things are looking up – especially in these 10 places. If you’re studying to become a teacher, consider moving to one of these cities after graduation – according to our calculations, they’re the best in the nation for educators.

We evaluated each city on a number of criteria, including:

  • Average annual teacher salary
  • Available teaching jobs (as of 5/6/2015)
  • Teaching jobs per capita
  • High school graduation rates
  • Cost of living
  • Amenities

We then combined this data, gathered from sources including the U.S. Census, Indeed.com, the National Center for Education Statistics, and WalkScore.com, to come up with an overall ranking. Read on to check out our top 10, click through our data, and see which other cities came close!

OlympiaWA

Image: City-Data.com

10. Olympia, WA

Great for teachers because: The capital of Washington, Olympia provides teachers with an average salary of $61,530. More than that, it has a high school graduation rate near 90%, paired with more than 60 currently available teaching jobs. The school district has a total of 18 schools: 11 elementary schools, four middle schools, and three high schools. As for amenities, you better like the outdoors: some of Olympia’s most popular attractions are its parks and nature conservation areas.

Pittsfield MA

Image: BreakingNews.com

9. Pittsfield, MA

Great for teachers because: Pittsfield has recently been ranked among the greenest places to live and the best places for small business. It’s also one of the best place to be a teacher. Pittsfield boasts a $66,600 average teacher salary. Its public school system has over 6,000 students at twelve schools, and the city also has several parochial and private schools. As for amenities? Pittsfield is known for theatres, concerts, restaurants, historic homes and neighborhoods and more.

ColumbusOH2

Image: Wikipedia

8. Columbus, OH

Great for teachers because: The capital of Ohio, Columbus has a 92% high school graduation rate and 237 available teaching jobs, as well as a $63,460 average teacher salary. It’s also tied with Rockford, IL for lowest cost of living. Home to the largest school district in Ohio, Columbus operates 142 elementary, middle and high schools, along with a number of magnet schools. Fun fact: many sources claim that Columbus is the birthplace of the nation’s first kindergarten and junior high.

ManchesterNH

Image: FindYourSpot.com

7. Manchester, NH

Great for teachers because: Manchester is often listed among the best cities to live – and it’s also one of the best places to teach. The New Hampshire city has more than 220 teaching jobs currently available, with an average salary of $55,390. It’s also one of the lowest on our list for cost of living, so that salary will go a lot farther. And Manchester isn’t just good for teachers – according to a 2013 study, it’s the seventh best metropolitan area for upward income mobility, regardless of field.

 

RichmondVA

Image: Charter Flight Group

6. Richmond, VA

Great for teachers because: Number six on our list, Richmond offers teachers a $59,990 average salary, plus more than 150 currently available teaching jobs. The city also has a relatively low cost of living, balanced out by a high amenities score. Richmond is home to the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies – consistently ranked one of America’s best high schools – as well as 28 elementary schools, nine middle schools, eight high schools and 36 private schools.

rochester ny 2

Image: Legacy Global Sports

5. Rochester, NY

Great for teachers because: Often named among the best places to live and raise a family, this Western New York city is also great for teachers. Rochester has an average teacher salary of $58,160, plus a 94% high school graduation rate. The area’s public schools have been ranked as some of the best nationwide, and there are also a number of private, parochial and charter schools in the city. Rochester is also home to several institutions of higher education, including the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology as well as a community college and a divinity school.

 

Ithaca NY

Image: New York Times

4. Ithaca, NY

Great for teachers because: Ithaca is well-known by students as the home of Cornell, as well as Ithaca College. But it’s also a great place for teachers. The New York city has the highest high school graduation rate on our list, at 95%. It also offers teachers an average salary of $64,950 per year. The Ithaca City School District enrolls around 5,500 students in its twelve schools, and the area also provides a range of private and alternative options.

CharlottesvilleVA

Image: McIntireBlogs.org

3. Charlottesville, VA

Great for teachers because: Coming in at number three on our list, Charlottesville offers teachers an average salary of $66,420 per year – more than $10,000 higher than the national average. Though Charlottesville has a slightly higher cost of living than some of the other cities on our list, it makes up for it in amenities. C’ville teachers can take wine and beer tours, visit Monticello or Shenandoah National Park, or attend events at UVA.

Syracuse NY

Image: DowntownSyracuse.com

2. Syracuse, NY

Great for teachers because: The Central New York city pays teachers one of the highest average salaries on our list, at $67, 310. Syracuse also boasts a 90% high school graduation rate, along with a low cost of living and high amenities score. The city supports five high schools, six middle schools and 17 elementary schools, as well as three alternative schools. The Syracuse Say Yes to Education Program focuses on bridging the achievement gap and funding higher education for low-income students.

LancasterPA

Image: Pennsylvania Music News

1. Lancaster, PA

Great for teachers because: Number one on our list? Lancaster, PA. This Central Pennsylvania city has nearly 70 teaching jobs currently available, with an average salary of $60,370. Lancaster’s school district is the second-oldest in Pennsylvania, and the city contains a number of private and public schools. What really puts it over the top, though? Its near-perfect amenities score. Off-duty teachers enjoy shopping at malls and boutiques, strolling through museums and art galleries, and exploring historical landmarks.

Honorable Mentions

11. Fresno, CA: Fresno’s average teacher salary is a sky-high $76,450, and the city has more than 50 open teaching positions.

12. Dayton, OH: Dayton offers teachers an average of $62,350 per year, with nearly 100 teaching jobs currently available.

13. Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh pays teachers an average of $61,100, and has a low cost of living paired with great amenities.

14. Rochester, MN: Rochester has an average teacher salary of $55,180, with more than 60 currently available teaching jobs.

15. Columbia, SC: Columbia offers teachers an average salary of $49,880. combined with a low cost of living.

 

The Best Places to Be a Teacher

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Methodology

GoodCall analyzed cities nationwide to come up with an overall ranking, based on:

  • Average teacher salary (National Center for Education Statistics). This represents 20% of the overall score.
  • Available teaching jobs as of 5/6/2015 (Indeed.com). This represents 30% of the overall score.
  • Cost of living (U.S. Census). This metric, which includes grocery, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare and miscellaneous costs, represents 15% of the overall score.
  • Teaching jobs per capita (Indeed.com, U.S. Census). This represents 10% of the overall score.
  • Number of teaching jobs per 1,000 jobs (Indeed.com). This represents 10% of the overall score.
  • Amenities (Walkscore.com). This represents 10% of the overall score.
  • High school graduation rates (Data.gov). This represents 5% of the overall score.




Paul Southerland

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Paul is a High Point University graduate with a B.S. in Business and a B.A. in Strategic Communication. GoodCall's resident numbers guy, Paul is a digital marketing expert who has been working in data analysis for more than 3 years. Paul contributes to GoodCall News with original data and reports.

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Comments(23)

  1. MJ says

    I have to disagree with at least one city on your list. I currently teach in Tucson and it is one of the most difficult places to teach. The pay is really low and working conditions are not good. I consider having to teach 34 second graders in a low income area to be a very difficult working condition. I also consider a salary below 40,000 with 15 years of teaching experience to be very low. Yes, there are lots of teaching jobs available in Tucson, but there are reasons for that; I just mentioned two. Another reason is that the cost of living really isn’t that low out here. Arizona ranks as one of the worst states to teach at due to low pay and high student-teacher ratios. Tucson is a wonderful city but if you teach here you won’t get to enjoy a lot of what this city and the surrounding areas have to offer.

  2. MJ says

    I have to disagree with at least one city on your list. I currently teach in Tucson and it is one of the most difficult places to teach. The pay is really low and working conditions are not good. I consider having to teach 34 second graders in a low income area to be a very difficult working condition. I also consider a salary below 40,000 with 15 years of teaching experience to be very low. Yes, there are lots of teaching jobs available in Tucson, but there are reasons for that; I just mentioned two. Another reason is that the cost of living really isn’t that low out here. Arizona ranks as one of the worst states to teach at due to low pay and high student-teacher ratios. Tucson is a wonderful city but if you teach here you won’t get to enjoy a lot of what this city and the surrounding areas have to offer.

  3. August Saunders says

    MJ, what list are you reading. I don’t see Tucson listed anywhere. Maybe teaching there has you seeing things that aren’t there. I would suggest you leave there immediately and head to one of the cities on the list. LOL

    But I can say if there was a “Worst Place to Teach” it would be Oklahoma. A new teacher will be making about $22K/year, so the pay is miserable. If you have 26 years experience with a doctoral level degree you will be making about $55K/year. The funding for schools is pitiful. If you teach science, prepare to generate your own money to conduct labs, and even when you do that, they make it difficult for you with all the rules for conducting a fund raiser. It’s as if they want you to do miserably as a teacher. So you have to come out of pocket a lot or you end up failing your students.

    They try to boast a good economy here but most of the jobs here are service jobs making minimum wages or just a bit above it. The governor is worthless, and they do all they can to keep citizens from getting health care here. It’s sad. The only reason that I stay is because of my kids and the fact that this is my third career and I have other income to supplement what they pay here in Oklahoma. Oklahoma is not even OK.

  4. August Saunders says

    MJ, what list are you reading. I don’t see Tucson listed anywhere. Maybe teaching there has you seeing things that aren’t there. I would suggest you leave there immediately and head to one of the cities on the list. LOL

    But I can say if there was a “Worst Place to Teach” it would be Oklahoma. A new teacher will be making about $22K/year, so the pay is miserable. If you have 26 years experience with a doctoral level degree you will be making about $55K/year. The funding for schools is pitiful. If you teach science, prepare to generate your own money to conduct labs, and even when you do that, they make it difficult for you with all the rules for conducting a fund raiser. It’s as if they want you to do miserably as a teacher. So you have to come out of pocket a lot or you end up failing your students.

    They try to boast a good economy here but most of the jobs here are service jobs making minimum wages or just a bit above it. The governor is worthless, and they do all they can to keep citizens from getting health care here. It’s sad. The only reason that I stay is because of my kids and the fact that this is my third career and I have other income to supplement what they pay here in Oklahoma. Oklahoma is not even OK.

  5. August Saunders says

    MJ, now I see the complete list. It wasn’t visible to me until I made my first comment.

  6. August Saunders says

    MJ, now I see the complete list. It wasn’t visible to me until I made my first comment.

  7. Chante says

    Thank you for this insightful article. I am a senior at Missouri State University and I am about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in middle school education. I have been looking for a place to relocate immediately after graduation.This information is one of the sources I’ll use to make an informed decision.

  8. Chante says

    Thank you for this insightful article. I am a senior at Missouri State University and I am about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in middle school education. I have been looking for a place to relocate immediately after graduation.This information is one of the sources I’ll use to make an informed decision.

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