In 2008, teachers of preschool through high school held approximately 3.5 million jobs in the United States. These educators are needed in every city and state and jobs are distributed evenly across the country. Between the years of 2008 and 2018, employment in this field is expected to grow about 13 percent.
Preschool teachers typically work with children under the age of 5. A degree in early childhood education is preferred for this field, but not always required. These teachers do not need a teaching license. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports an annual mean wage of $27,450 as of May, 2009 for individuals in this field. Those with earnings in the highest 10 percent of the field averaged $43,570 a year while the lowest 10 percent had earnings averaging $16,420.
Kindergarten teachers are typically licensed to teach early childhood and have a degree in early childhood education. The average annual wage reported by the BLS for a kindergarten teacher is $50,380. Teachers with earnings in the 90th percentile average $75,210 annually and those in the 10th percentile make about $31,320.
Elementary school teachers teach grades 1 through 5. These teachers are typically licensed to teach early childhood grades, which covers grades 1 through 3, or elementary grades which encompasses all elementary school grades. The BLS reports a mean annual wage of $53,150 for these teachers. Those in the lowest 10 percent of the occupation average $33,830 and those in the top 10 percent earn $78,720.
Grades 5 through 8 typically fall in the range of middle school teachers. Licensure for the elementary grades or middle grades, depending on the state, is required for work with this age group. By middle school, teachers typically focus on a single subject area. The average salary for middle school teachers is $53,550 as of May, 2009. The BLS indicates average earnings of $34,360 for the 10th percentile and $79,200 for the 90th percentile.
Secondary school teachers educate high school students, usually around the grades of 7 through 12, in a specific subject area. Secondary school teachers command an annual mean wage of $55,150. The highest paid 10 percent in this field make around $82,000 while the bottom 10 percent earn $34,600.
Special education teachers typically earn slightly more than other teachers. In preschool, kindergarten and elementary school the average salary is $53,770. Special education teachers in middle school command an average salary of $54,750. In secondary school, these teachers have average earnings of $56,420 annually.