What are the Best States to be a Teacher? Here are 8 Attractive Options

Great States for New TeachersIf you’re a new teacher who’s recently graduated from college, a career changer just entering the teaching profession, or a veteran educator with a master’s in education looking to move to another state, you’ll want to go where teachers are in demand.

To make your task easier, we’ve compiled a list of eight prospective states — with plenty of new students — that are hiring teachers and have relatively affordable housing markets.

Whether you’re a fine arts museum lover, a rugged backpacker, or both, each of these states is a desirable destination. More than half offer coastal access to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, or the Gulf of Mexico. All offer a mix of big cities, urban communities and rural towns. Each has a blend of cultural diversity and serene landscapes — from historic Savannah to magical Sedona, from the Smoky Mountains to the aspen Rockies.

Key factors

We selected these high-growth states and rated them based on relevant statistics and recent surveys that support the following key considerations:

    • Students: Over the past two decades, each of these states has seen an influx of young students, from pre-kindergarten through middle school. Selections are based on data from the U.S. Department of Education, with the National Center for Education Statistics projecting sizable student enrollment increases for the South, Southwest and West regions through 2022.
    • Hiring: A few of these states weathered the recent recession, while those hit hardest are witnessing a steady recovery and employment growth matched by increased hiring of teachers and education administrators. Selections are based on the National Education Association’s estimates for teacher jobs among all 50 states and the Friedman Foundation’s report on instructional staff in public K-12 schools for 2012-13.
    • Salary: All of these states’ annual wages for new and veteran teachers are in line with national averages. Selections are based on data from the National Education Association, the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education. They’re compared against national average starting teacher salaries of $36,141 (2012-13) and the U.S. average of $56,103 for all teachers (2012-13).
    • Homes: Relatively affordable housing costs in these states make buying a home on a teacher’s salary a realistic goal. Selections are based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s “2012 Statistical Abstract: State Rankings” and 10-year single-family housing price index (2000-10). They compare to the national average price of $185,700 for a single-family home.
    • Future: Some of these states have demonstrated impressive commitments and investments in pre-K education. Selections are based on the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) report, “The State of Preschool 2013,” which provides extensive data on state spending and classroom standards for pre-K programs.
    • Growth: These states show strong economic performance indicators, with all but two among the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s recent Top 10. Selections are based on the chamber’s “Enterprising States 2014: Re-Creating Equality and Opportunity” ratings of state job growth, infrastructure investments, quality of living and business-friendly climate.

    Bottom line: If you’re looking for a place that’s affordable and has plenty of opportunities for teachers, here are eight attractive states to consider:

    Georgia

    With its proximity to the Carolinas, Florida and Tennessee, Georgia is ideally situated between new technology hubs and the Atlantic coast, with plenty of superb universities. Whether you’re interested in the big city excitement of Atlanta or you’re drawn toward the suburbs, Georgia is one of the nation’s fastest-growing states. It’s a great place for teachers.

    • Students – 2010 U.S. Census increase (1992-2009): 41%
    • Hiring – No. 9 in hiring with 126,298 K-12 staff (2012-13): +74%
    • Salaries – Starting teacher salaries: $33,664; average salaries for K-12 teachers: $52,880
    • Homes – Average single-family housing price estimate: $154,800
    • Future – NIEER score for overall quality of pre-K programs: 8 points (out of 10)
    • Growth – U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation state rating: 10th 
    • Georgia Department of Education

    Texas

    The top state for attracting businesses and jobs over the past 15 years, Texas is on a hiring spree for everything from service sector positions to engineering careers. The Lone Star State, with big-league cities like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, has dozens of smaller hamlets with an influx of new students. That translates into jobs for teachers.

    • Students – 2010 U.S. Census increase (1992-2009): 37%
    • Hiring – No. 1 in hiring with 369,966 K-12 staff (2012-13): +172%
    • Salaries– Starting teacher salaries: $38,091; average salaries for K-12 teachers: $48,819
    • Homes – Average single-family housing price estimate: $172,600
    • Future – NIEER score for overall quality of pre-K programs: 2 points (out of 10)
    • Growth – U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation state rating: 2nd 
    • Texas Education Agency

    Washington

    With cities like Seattle, Olympia and Tacoma, natural wonders like the Puget Sound and Mount Rainier, and major employers that include Boeing, Amazon and Microsoft, Washington has lots to offer. A booming destination for high-tech workers, the Emerald State is also a major growth area for education. It’s a cool place for teachers in search of opportunities to shine.

    • Students – 2010 U.S. Census increase (1992-2009): 19%
    • Hiring – No. 21 in hiring with 60,322 K-12 staff (2012-13): +43%
    • Salaries – Starting teacher salaries: $36,335; average salaries for K-12 teachers: $52,234
    • Homes – Average single-family housing price estimate: $188,000
    • Future – NIEER score for overall quality of pre-K programs: 9 points (out of 10)
    • Growth – U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation state rating: 3rd 
    • Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

    Arizona

    If the Grand Canyon isn’t enough to entice people searching for employment opportunities to check out Arizona, there are Phoenix, Sedona, Flagstaff and Tucson, with an expanding landscape of suburbs. Arizona is consistently ranked near the top of states with new students. It’s a logical choice for teachers searching for warm weather and affordable homes.

    • Students – 2010 U.S. Census increase (1992-2009): 66%
    • Hiring – No. 17 in hiring with 66,273 K-12 staff (2012-13): +61%
    • Salaries – Starting teacher salaries: $31,874; average salaries for K-12 teachers: $49,885
    • Homes – Average single-family housing price estimate: $224,700
    • Future – NIEER score for overall quality of pre-K programs: 5 points (out of 10)
    • Growth – U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation state rating: 9th 
    • Arizona Department of Education

    Colorado

    With its snowcapped backdrop, mile-high airport and diverse culture, Denver is just one of several attractive cities in Colorado. Aspen, Aurora and Colorado Springs, home to the U.S. Air Force Academy, are nice places to live in the Centennial State, which offers a balance of sophisticated and rugged lifestyles. It’s a great state for teachers who enjoy outdoor activities.

    • Students – 2010 U.S. Census increase (1992-2009): 38%
    • Hiring – No. 23 in hiring with 57,387 K-12 staff (2012-13): +83%
    • Salaries – Starting teacher salaries: $32,126; average salaries for K-12 teachers: $49,844
    • Homes – Average single-family housing price estimate: $266,300
    • Future – NIEER score for overall quality of pre-K programs: 6 points (out of 10)
    • Growth – U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation state rating: 6th 
    • Colorado Department of Education

    North Carolina

    With the Research Triangle, North Carolina is among the world’s major biotechnology centers. With access to top universities, the Atlantic Ocean and Smoky Mountains, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Asheville, North Carolina offers an eclectic mix of modern culture and historic landmarks. The state’s commitment to education — from pre-K to college — makes it ideal for teachers.

    • Students – 2010 U.S. Census increase (1992-2009): 36%
    • Hiring – No. 11 in hiring with 114,158 K-12 staff (2012-13): +61%
    • Salaries – Starting teacher salaries: $30,778; average salaries for K-12 teachers: $45,737
    • Homes – Average single-family housing price estimate: $185,800
    • Future – NIEER score for overall quality of pre-K programs: 10 points (out of 10)
    • Growth – U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation state rating: not among Top 10
    • North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

    Florida

    Diversity and warm weather are two of Florida’s most appealing assets. From Miami’s Latin American zeal to Gold Coast beaches to Orlando’s Walt Disney World, the Sunshine State is home to thousands of businesses. Florida recently surpassed New York as the third most populated state, thanks largely to an increase in young families with children. That means students — and jobs for teachers.

    • Students – 2010 U.S. Census increase (1992-2009): 36%
    • Hiring – No. 4 in hiring with 186,003 K-12 staff (2012-13): +41%
    • Salaries – Starting teacher salaries: $35,166; average salaries for K-12 teachers: $46,598
    • Homes – Average single-family housing price estimate: $175,700
    • Future – NIEER score for overall quality of pre-K programs: 3 points (out of 10)
    • Growth – U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation state rating: 4th 
    • Florida Department of Education

    Oregon

    From Medford to Portland — with Corvallis, Coos Bay and Eugene in between — Oregon is growing faster than a sockeye salmon swimming down the Columbia River. With more public parks per capita than most cities, Portland is attracting young professionals in search of urban diversity and the enticement of the Cascade mountains. Such rapid growth bodes well for teachers.

    • Students – 2010 U.S. Census increase (1992-2009): 15%
    • Hiring – No. 36 in hiring with 29,177 K-12 staff (2012-13): +47%
    • Salaries – Starting teacher salaries: $33,549; average salaries for K-12 teachers: $57,612
    • Homes – Average single-family housing price estimate: $256,100
    • Future – NIEER score for overall quality of pre-K programs: 8 points (out of 10)
    • Growth – U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation state rating: not among Top 10
    • Oregon Department of Education
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