As I’ve mentioned before, average salaries for teachers can vary depending on the grade level taught. In this post, we’ll look specifically at how your salary might look in comparison to your colleagues if you’re planning to teach kindergarten.
In most school districts, kindergarten teacher salaries are not set differently than the salaries of other schoolteachers. Instead, all school teachers are given salaries based on their highest degree earned, their years of experience, and the quality of their experience in terms of professional development and past fieldwork. In other words, an entry-level kindergarten teacher would—in theory—earn the same salary as an entry level high school teacher.
In reality, however, the average salaries for kindergarten teachers differ from average pay for other kinds of teachers. This is because kindergarten teachers have a lower level of professional development and are less likely to hold a Master’s degree in comparison with subject area teachers who work with older students.
The reason for this disparity is because kindergarten teachers face both lower requirements and lower expectations where professional development and training is concerned. School districts may actually prefer that subject area teachers who work with older ager groups either have a master’s or earn a Master’s upon hire. Schools may even give tuition reimbursement to middle and high school subject teachers, and actively facilitate other forms of training. Kindergarten teachers on the other hand are never required to have a Master’s degree and receive fewer subsidies and incentives to engage in professional development.
As a result, kindergarten teachers do not rise into higher pay brackets based on their experiencing and training—at least not in the same way that middle and highs school teachers might. Instead, the long-term average salary of a kindergarten teacher is more on par with that of an elementary school teacher.
Because kindergarten and elementary school teachers have similar levels of education and comparable opportunities for professional development, most salary studies measure average pay for these two groups of teachers together. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates the average kindergarten and elementary school teacher salary at $53,760 per year as of 2014. Through a survey of school human resources data, Salary.com has come up with a similar number for 2016—a national $54,731 mean annual salary for elementary school and kindergarten instructors.
Of course, other factors influence the pay of individual kindergarten teachers as well. Different states have different entry-level pay and variable chances for raises and advancement. Entry level pay for kindergarten teachers can range from mid 20K to high 40K—a very high spread! And pay continues to vary widely from state-to-state throughout teacher’s careers.
It’s also important to remember that each individual teacher makes some of their own decisions about their professional development and continuing education. While kindergarten teachers do have lower average salaries than middle or high school instructors, it doesn’t absolutely have to be that way. If you’re planning a career in kindergarten and want to maximize your long-term pay, start looking into higher education and professional development options for the future.