High School Teacher Salary

Curious about becoming a high school teacher? This in-depth guide walks you through all the salary information you need to know, including national averages and salaries for top high school teaching positions.

What Is the Average Salary of a High School Teacher?

As a high school teacher, you'll share your knowledge and expertise of a subject you're passionate about with students who need to acquire the knowledge to meet state educational standards. High school teachers typically teach students in grades 9-12 and are responsible for planning and teaching lessons in their selected subject area, grading assignments and exams, and preparing students for state-mandated exams.

Average Salary: $59,170

Top 10% Average Salary: $95,380

Bottom 10% Average Salary: $59,170

Salaries vary based on several components, including location, years of experience, and subject taught. For example, teachers in Alaska ($85,420) and New York ($83,360) earned the highest average salary in 2017, while those working in Oklahoma ($41,880) and South Dakota ($41,980) had the lowest average salary. Teachers in metropolitan areas with larger populations also earned more than teachers who worked in more rural areas. Here is a look at a sampling of rural and urban areas for salary comparison:

Location Area Type Average Salary
Suffolk County and Nassau County - New York Metro Area Metropolitan area $101,110
Bridgeport-Norwalk-Stamford, Connecticut Metro Area Metropolitan area $86,170
Bakersfield, California Metro Area Metropolitan area $85,220
Eastern Sierra Region of California Non-metropolitan area $73,190
Southwest Massachusetts Area Metropolitan area $54,430
West Texas Non-metropolitan area $50,350
North Missouri Non-metropolitan area $39,330

Your salary can also vary based on what subject you are teaching - for instance physics teachers could make as much as 11% more than language arts teachers. Check out how much teachers of these subjects make, as compared to the national average of $59,170:

Subject Taught +/- from National Average Salary
Physics 5%
Biology 4%
Art -3%
Spanish -4%
Language Arts -6%

Now let's look at the average salaries for high school teachers based on their experience and subject taught in more detail.

Starting High School Teacher Salary

High school teachers who have just acquired a teaching license may have an easier time finding a position if they're flexible on where they want to teach. Rural and urban school districts feature more job opportunities than suburban school districts, and some subjects may also be in greater need, such as science or math. Teachers just getting started in their careers can expect to earn a little less than their more experienced counterparts. Here's a look at salaries by experience level for high school teachers:

Experience Average Salary
New teachers $41,073
Mid-career teachers $47,162
Experienced teachers $53,675

High School English Teacher Salary

Average Salary: $48,176

High school English teachers can supplement their salaries by teaching by working as tutors or overseeing a student club.

In a high school English class, teachers can inspire students to learn about figurative language, literary terms, persuasive writing techniques and grammar through the use of plays, poems, nonfiction and literary fiction. These teachers may also teach elective courses like journalism or creative writing. If you're interested in becoming a high school English teacher, you'll need to be passionate about English language and literature as well as hold a bachelor's degree in the field and a teaching license.

High School History Teacher Salary

Average Salary: $43,587

Civics, world events, ancient civilizations, domestic politics, and world wars are just a few of the topics history teachers are expected to introduce to their students in a history classroom. In addition to a love of digging into past events, aspiring history teachers need to meet general teaching requirements, including earning a bachelor's degree and obtaining a license. History teachers can round out their students' education with visits to museums, debates on world affairs, or discussions on current versus past events.

High School Science Teacher Salary

Average Salary: $43,916

This can vary by which science field you focus on. Science teaching positions are often hard to fill, so aspiring science teachers can expect solid job prospects in this field.

High school science teachers can teach any of the following scientific fields to students in grades 9-12:

  • General science
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Earth science
  • Biology

These professionals utilize both the classroom and the lab to bring science alive. In addition, science teachers help students with activities like science fairs and programs, research projects, and using chemicals and science equipment.

High School Biology Teacher Salary

Average Salary: $56,309

Science teachers who are passionate about living organisms and biological processes can become high school biology teachers by majoring in biology in their undergrad program, getting hands-on experience through student teaching positions, and passing a certification exam issued by their state. Some schools have course sequences, so biology teachers may find themselves teaching one or two specific grade levels, instead of all four. Specifically, many schools require high school students to study biology in 9th or 10th grade, so teachers will primarily teach these age levels.

High School Physics Teacher Salary

Average Salary: $49,922

Velocity, energy, magnetism, vector quantities, and Newton's laws are just a few topics that physics teachers will cover in their high school classrooms. That link between math and physics means that many physics teachers at this level also teach topics in math. The steps to becoming a high school physics teacher are the same as for other science teachers, so aspiring teachers will need to major in physics or a related topic, have experience with math, possess a bachelor's degree and pass a state licensing exam.

High School Art Teacher Salary

Average Salary: $41,815

Art teachers in secondary schools need a strong knowledge of art history and the various mediums. Whether you are interested in becoming an art history teacher or a general art teacher, you'll need an intimate knowledge of art and art history, an art degree and a state teaching license.

High School Music Teacher Salary

Average Salary: $45,000 annually.

Some skills might translate to better wages, for example, the ability to play the piano could lead to higher pay.

Music teacher are responsible for:

  • Concert choir performances
  • Rehearsals
  • Music history lessons
  • Vocal technique demonstrations
  • Musical programs at school and community functions
  • Purchase of musical instruments and equipment

These teachers may also lead school marching bands or attend competitions with their students.

High School Spanish Teacher Salary

Average Salary: $43,264 (all foreign language high school teachers)

Spanish teachers don't just teach students how to speak Spanish. They also provide lessons on culture and literature for Spanish-speaking areas. These teachers cover major literary works, Spanish grammar, and written and verbal Spanish. They also help out with extracurricular activities offered by a school, such as a Spanish club or school presentations. Spanish teachers may see students from each grade level in their classes, especially if they teach different levels of Spanish (beginning to advanced). In some schools, Spanish teachers may also teach advanced placement courses in Spanish.

High School Gym Teacher Salary

Average Salary: $42,000

Gym teachers, also known as physical education teachers, teach students about recreational sports, the importance of exercise, and nutritional concepts. Gym teachers could also oversee track meets, rock climbing activities, or conditioning classes. These teachers may also coach high school sports, such as volleyball, basketball, baseball, soccer or football.

High School Teacher Salary with a Master's Degree

To work as a high school teacher, you need at least a bachelor's degree. However, some positions do require teachers to earn a master's degree after working for a few years. Earning a master's degree can also make you more competitive in the job market. Although it's hard to nail down the salary potential for a high school teacher with a master's degree, it's been found that those who earn a master's degree in education often earn about 7% more than those with only an undergraduate degree.

A master's degree in education can also pave the way for more advanced jobs in the field of education. Below are some job options for graduates of master's in education programs, along with their average salary info.

Career Salary
School counselor $58,620
Instructional coordinator $66,680
College instructor - community college $79,200

*All salary statistics come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017), Glassdoor.com (2018) and PayScale.com (2018).