David Recine

Teacher Shortages by Geography

The United States as a whole is experiencing a teacher shortage, due to a drop in the number of people who are completing teaching degrees. This can work to your advantage if you’re a prospective teacher. Still, the USA is a huge country with diverse educational needs, and teacher demand is not spread evenly across every state and city. To take advantage of the increase in demand for teachers, you’ll need to know where demand is concentrated.


Rural schools

Remote rural locales tend to be short on qualified teachers. Rural areas often simply aren’t close enough to any teacher training colleges and aren’t an obvious choice for fresh university graduates. Small towns and countryside schools also have low salaries that may scare off applicants, but it’s important to remember that seemingly low rural pay can often be quite sufficient when you take into account the low cost of rural living.


Urban schools

Densely populated areas also face teacher shortages. Big cities have the opposite problem of rural schools—instead of having too few teachers, big cities have more students than they can handle. As America continues to become more and more urban, metropolitan areas are expanding rapidly. And city school districts are struggling to keep up with the growing demand for teachers in their schools.

Big cities also have a different problem from urban schools with respect to compensation—salaries can appear to be high, but the cost of living is also quite high relative to teacher pay. Still, city life is fun and exciting and has its own rewards beyond financial ones. This is especially true for young new teachers who’ve just gotten their initial license.


Economically depressed regions

Places that face a lot of poverty have trouble attracting teachers too. Admittedly, there are some disadvantages in teaching students who live in poverty-stricken parts of America. Depressed wages means depressed tax revenues, which in turn puts constraints on school funding and teacher pay. Still, working in low-income school districts is rewarding, important work. And it’s an excellent way to build your teaching resume at entry level. Moreover, many teachers find they love working with low-income children and parents enough to stay on for years, even for their whole careers.


Specific locations

Go to any state or territory in the U.S. and you’ll find geographic regions that are either remote and rural, urban and growing, or economically troubled. With those criteria in mind, there are a number of specific states, cities, and regions where you’re especially likely to find a demand for teachers like yourself.

Highly rural states face statewide teacher shortages, as do states with growing urban populations. Places like Mississippi and Oklahoma are always looking for people to teach in their many rural school districts. Certain states such as Texas, Louisiana, and Arizona have dual need for urban and rural teachers. In these cases, an abundance of small towns and rapid city growth creates statewide teacher shortages in farm counties and city centers alike.

Because the American Southwest and Southern states are very rural yet rapidly increasing in population, these regions have the highest teacher shortages overall. So states in these two parts of the US are great places to apply for a teaching position. America’s highly urban East and West Coasts have teacher shortages too, with shorthanded school districts in New York City, larger New Jersey cities such as Newark, California’s many urban centers, and so on.



  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he’s helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master’s Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he’s presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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