12 Highest Paying Teaching Jobs: What is the Highest Paying Job in Education? [2024 Guide]

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Aspiring educators may find themselves in positions that fail to adequately compensate them for their hard work in schools and dedication to teaching students. We’ve helped professionals identify the most lucrative career paths. We’re sharing that list to help you make informed decisions that will align with your employment and financial goals.

Maximizing the Pay Grade: What Teachers Make the Most Money?

For those seeking education leadership roles and the highest paying jobs in the field, positions like superintendent, assistant principal, university or college administrator, postsecondary administrator, and college professor typically offer the most lucrative earnings. Despite requiring advanced degrees and considerable experience, these roles provide more opportunities that command top compensation within educational institutions.

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No one goes into education to become a millionaire, despite the work that goes into becoming a teacher. Whatever the path, the best careers in education are in demand, and earning the higher degrees necessary for higher positions is a good investment.

PositionYearly Average EarningsHighest Educational Attainment
Superintendent$98,750Master’s Degree or PhD in Educational Administration/Leadership
School or assistant principal$95,310 Master’s Degree in Educational Administration
University or college administrator$94,340Master’s Degree or PhD in Educational Administration/Leadership
Postsecondary education administrator$86,320Master’s Degree or PhD in Educational Administration/Leadership
College professor$78,470 Master’s or PhD in a Subject Area
Instructional coordinator$64,450Master’s Degree or PhD in Curriculum & Instruction
High school teacher$60,320Bachelor’s Degree in Education, Teaching Certification
Special education teacher$59,780Bachelor’s Degree, Special Education Certification
Middle school teacher$58,600Bachelor’s Degree, Teaching Certification
Primary school teacher$57,980Undergraduate Degree in Elementary Education
School and career counselor $56,310Master’s Degree in School Counseling
Librarian$51,502Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Library Science

1. Superintendents

When you are looking into the best profession in education that gets paid the most, you will want to consider the role of a superintendent. A superintendent is a leader for an entire school district and strives to obtain the goals set by the school board in relation to student education.

Employees wearing suits conversing with each other during a social gathering

The career path is a challenge, although this level allows them to advance in their careers and achieve unique goals in various schools.

The salary expectations for a superintendent depend on the state and the local school district. While the exact income differs significantly, you can expect to earn between $98,750 and $156,000 per year. Keep in mind that starting salaries for a superintendent are usually lower than the income you can expect as you gain experience in your district and implement plans for student education.

2. School or Assistant Principals

Searching for the best-paid teaching jobs may result in evaluating the role of a principal or an assistant principal in a local school. A principal’s responsibilities focus on the school’s goals. A principal may meet with parents to discuss specific concerns related to their children, hire new teachers, or engage in teacher development. 

Woman using her laptop

The position may also require administrative skills that focus on ensuring that the school runs smoothly and the curriculum meets the district and state standards. 

A principal must have a master’s degree and five years of teaching experience before taking an exam to qualify for the position and move into the administrative role. An assistant or vice-principal helps the principal keep up with the demands of his or her position as a leader.

Income information:

  • While the specific income level may vary, the average income for a principal is around $95,000 per year. The highest-paying principal positions may earn around $70,000 to $138,000 per year. 
  • When working as an assistant principal, you can expect a median income of around $88,500 per year. The income range for an assistant principal is between $59,000 and $130,000 per year. 

3. University or College Administrators 

An administrator for colleges and universities focuses on the day-to-day running of the school. The responsibilities of the career path focus on tasks like budgeting, organizing events, appropriate disciplinary action, and public relations. The position focuses on leading the school to ensure that it runs smoothly during normal days and during times of crisis. 

Unique building university architecture

The administrator must have the skills to keep up with the challenges of administration work and leadership roles within the school.

College administrators have a master’s degree or higher in education administration or leadership that allows them to handle the challenges of following local, state, and federal regulations related to post-secondary education.

Income information:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a university administrator is around $94,340.
  • The wage range may vary based on your state and experience level, so you may start with earnings of roughly $61,000 per year.
  • The highest-earning administrators for colleges can get paid around $128,000 per year.

4. Postsecondary Education Administrators

While teachers work to focus on instructional delivery and teaching lessons, administrators provide vital leadership and organizational oversight across schools. 

Young woman smiling on an empty school meeting room

Salary information:

  • Despite a starting pay of around $30,100 per year, most postsecondary administrators hold advanced degrees like a master’s in education leadership or related fields.
  • The path often involves first securing an advanced degree, followed by entry-level positions, before progressing to top-tier positions that reflect their graduate school training in management. This can get you a pay of up to $187,000 annually.

5. College Professors

When you are looking for the best-paid teaching jobs for your area of interest or specialized skill, then you may consider working as a professor in colleges or universities. A college professor prepares course material, teaches students in a classroom environment, and grades student work. 

Teacher pointing to a student in class during a lecture

A professor needs a minimum of a master’s degree to qualify for a teaching position; however, many schools may also require professors to obtain a doctorate before they qualify for a full-time position.

Salary information:

  • The median pay for a college or university professor is around $78,470 per year. 
  • Professors can get paid from $39,700 to $175,000 per year. Professors focusing on law tend to make more than professors in other fields or industries.

6. Instructional Coordinators

An instructional coordinator receives high pay because the position focuses on setting the standards for curriculum and teaching within district schools. Instructional coordinators work with principals and teachers to implement the curriculum and then assess the effectiveness of the curriculum among students.

Two men looking at a textbook outside the school building

An instructional coordinator has a master’s degree or higher with at least five years of work experience in an administrative or education position. You may be required to obtain a license for your career in some states.

Income information:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for instructional coordinators is around $64,450 per year. 
  • The wage range for instructional coordinators is between $36,300 and $102,200 per year. Expect your earnings to change as you gain experience and improve in your profession.

7. High School Teachers

Becoming one of the highest-paying high school teachers allows you to advance your employment and earn reasonable pay. High school teachers prepare students for graduation by teaching a subject and specialized skills to their students.

Man wearing a suit and holding a tablet while sitting on a bench

High school teachers need a bachelor’s degree and certification or a license in their state. Standards related to licensure differ by state, so you will want to evaluate your state’s standards before you start working.

Income information:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for high school teachers is $60,320 per year. 
  • The income range is between $39,700 and $97,500 per year.

8. Special Education Teachers 

Working as a special education teacher offers a rewarding profession that allows you to teach students with special needs to gain the skills they need for their lives. Special education teachers must adapt educational material to fit their students’ needs and help them with their specific challenges.

Teacher assisting a young male student while he's looking at a laptop

Special education teachers need a bachelor’s degree and an appropriate certification or license in their state to work with their students.

Salary information:

  • The median income for special education teachers is around $59,780 per year. 
  • The wage range for a special education teacher is between $39,600 and $97,000 per year.

9. Middle School Teachers

Working as a middle school teacher means taking on specialized classes and preparing your students for the challenges they will face as they move into high school. The position builds on the previous education of students at the elementary level and focuses on advancing skills to set a stronger foundation.

Teacher looking at her male student's laptop during class

A middle school teacher needs a bachelor’s degree and a license in their state to start their career and work with students on a specific subject in the classroom.

Salary information:

  • The median income of middle school teachers is around $58,600 per year.
  • The earnings can be around $39,000 and $93,000 per year.

10. Primary School Teachers

With a bachelor’s degree in education, elementary teachers set the foundation for students to build on as they grow and learn. Unlike a high school teacher, you will teach multiple subjects to your students in a classroom.

Young students listening to a teacher during class

Primary school teachers have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education or related subjects. You may also need a state-issued certification.

Income information:

  • The median income for a primary school teacher is around $57,980 per year. 
  • The wage range for a primary school teacher is between $37,700 and $95,200 per year.

11. School and Career Counselors

A career counselor focuses on helping and advising students to determine their long-term goals for their future. A school counselor needs a master’s degree in school counseling and must have a state-issued license to work with students.

Counselor taking notes during a therapy session

Salary information:

  • The median income for a school or career counselor is around $56,310 per year. 

The earnings range for the position is between $33,600 and $94,600 per year.

12. Librarians

Librarians’ responsibilities extend beyond assisting students in navigating resources. They also manage entire library collections, plan programs, and support faculty with research and lesson planning. However, they are integral to facilitating research and learning at the college level.

School librarian talking to students that were sitting on a table

Income information: 

  • Librarians may not earn as much as teachers providing teaching lessons or those in specialized fields like special education, with a starting income of around $38,000 every year.
  • The average salary for a librarian is $51,502 per year.
  • These trained professionals can earn up to $71,000 yearly. Their work involves creating efficient access to valuable resources across schools, community colleges, and universities, which justifies their competitive pay.

How We Chose the Highest-Paying Careers in Education

For selecting the best-paid teaching jobs and administrative careers, our methodology was simple consulting Bureau of Labor Statistics data on various positions in the teaching field. From there, we simply arranged jobs in order of average salary at the national level, from highest to lowest. 

Young students sitting on the floor while listening to their teacher tell a story from a book

Why Are Some Types of Teachers Paid More?

The compensation a teacher receives as a professional is based upon several important factors.

With 15 years of experience in the education sector, Kelsey Ludeman shares her insights on this topic:

“Salaries in the education arena vary vastly between districts, schools, and universities. Administrators and professors tend to have higher earning power, while classroom teachers often operate at a lower pay scale. Factors that can positively impact income include specialized expertise, additional certifications, location and cost of living, school type, supply and demand, and advanced degrees.”

Earnings for the varying types of jobs in education depend on many components. Early childhood education and elementary education, for instance, are more different than you would expect.

Total compensation includes wages and other benefits, like sick days and health insurance. However, monetary compensation is determined by the following factors:

  • Level of education: The education requirements for a teacher include a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in education before they can even apply for their teaching license. It benefits the district through advanced education, and a teacher’s compensation increases when an advanced degree is earned. This becomes a great return on investment
  • Years in service: Like most occupations, seniority plays a key role in determining one’s level of compensation. Many of the highest-paying careers include university teachers who have been teaching for many years.
  • State or district: Because school funding is usually tied to tax revenue, each district within a state will have public school teacher incomes that vary as well. For example, the Aldine Independent School District pays starting employees $61,000 while Conroe ISD jobs offer $60,000 with no experience.
  • Supply and demand: Some roles, like special education teachers, require a very specific set of skills and may pay more. For example, the high school culinary arts teacher wage may be higher since the role is hard to fill.

States With the Highest Average Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the list of jobs in the education field with the highest annual compensation packages for teachers (May 2020) includes:

  • New York — $85,300
  • California — $80,510
  • Massachusetts — $80,020
  • Alaska — $77,920
  • Connecticut — $76,980

Do Higher Salaries Bring More Job Satisfaction for Teachers?

The reality is that for some teachers, higher wages would seem to bring a higher level of satisfaction. It’s one of the non-monetary benefits of education. However, much of that satisfaction is likely to be cloaked in the security that the higher salary brings. 

Teacher looking at the art work her young student is holding on her hand

The concept of job satisfaction is what is known as a social construct — a notion that was crafted (and accepted) by those who occupy society. What makes job satisfaction even more complex is that one’s level of job satisfaction is highly personal. 

Consider the following factors that create satisfied workers across the board: 

  • Level of engagement: Whether you want to become a high school teacher or an instructional coordinator, those who find meaning in their work become easily engaged. 
  • Respect and appreciation: Many studies have shown that an underappreciated or disrespected employee is more likely to become disgruntled and dissatisfied in a classroom.
  • Reasonable and just compensation: Loyal workers expect to be fairly paid for their skill level, their commitment to the school system’s objectives, and their meeting of student education level expectations. 
  • Life satisfaction: Studies show that people, who are generally more predisposed to be happy in life, tend to find more satisfaction in their work.

Related Questions

What Kind of Teachers Get Paid Most?

Teachers in leadership and administrative roles, such as principals and superintendents, tend to command the highest salaries. This is compared to traditional teaching positions that involve teaching materials and lesson planning for students.

Which Level of Teaching Pays the Most?

Roles like college professors, postsecondary administrators, and superintendents overseeing advising students and entry-level positions earn higher salaries than elementary or secondary school teachers. Generally, the higher the level of education and the broader the experience, the more lucrative the teaching positions become.


Having a clear understanding of the highest-paying jobs in education empowers professionals to make strategic decisions regarding their employment trajectories. Whether pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education or considering a transition into the field, being aware of the positions that command top wages allows for better planning and goal-setting.

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Aya Andrews


Aya Andrews is a passionate educator and mother of two, with a diverse background that has shaped her approach to teaching and learning. Born in Metro Manila, she now calls San Diego home and is proud to be a Filipino-American. Aya earned her Masters degree in Education from San Diego State University, where she focused on developing innovative teaching methods to engage and inspire students.

Prior to her work in education, Aya spent several years as a continuing education consultant for KPMG, where she honed her skills in project management and client relations. She brings this same level of professionalism and expertise to her work as an educator, where she is committed to helping each of her students achieve their full potential.

In addition to her work as an educator, Aya is a devoted mother who is passionate about creating a nurturing and supportive home environment for her children. She is an active member of her community, volunteering her time and resources to support local schools and organizations. Aya is also an avid traveler, and loves to explore new cultures and cuisines with her family.

With a deep commitment to education and a passion for helping others succeed, Aya is a true inspiration to those around her. Her dedication to her craft, her community, and her family is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of her life.

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ValueColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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