The average salary for preschool teachers was $31,420 per year as of May 2013. This amount is well below the national average salary for all occupations, which was $46,440. Some preschool teachers earn more than the average, however, based on industry, geography and added credentials.
Despite the modest average, top-end pay for preschool teachers is relatively strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the top 10 percent of earners made at or above $49,660 per year as of May 2013. The top 25 percent made at or above $36,940 per year. At the low end, 10 percent made at or below $18,420 per year. Experience contributes to incomes higher on the salary range.
The work environment has an effect on pay as well. Day care services are the largest employer of preschool teachers. The average annual salary in this setting was $27,070 as of May 2013, according to the BLS. The highest average was in elementary and secondary schools, at $44,760 per year. These schools were the second-largest employment setting. Preschool teachers in religious settings earned an average of $32,700. Teachers in individual and family service settings made $31,190, on average.
Geography plays a role in pay as well. The BLS indicated that New York had the highest state-based average pay for preschool teachers, at $43,650 per year as of May 2013. This was substantially more than the $36,970 average for teachers in New Jersey, the second-highest paying state. Kentucky had the third-highest average salary, at $36,750 per year. Alaska was fourth, at $35,980. Connecticut was fifth, at $34,520.
Improving Earning Potential
Licenses and certifications are requirements for preschool teachers in many states, according to the BLS. Even if they're not necessary, earning a child development associate certification and other formal certificates makes you more marketable as a teacher. You can also earn an associate degree or bachelor's degree in early childhood education. Earning these degrees increases your value to potential employers and may affect your income. School districts often have salary schedules with pay based on education and work experience.
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