SREB Takeaways on Teacher Compensation Data
Trends and highlights from our latest analysis


Stacks of coins in front of a bar graph and a line graph


Teacher compensation is about more than just salaries. Each year, we track and analyze the full package of teacher compensation data across the 16 states in the SREB region — from salaries to health care and retirement benefits to net take-home pay.

Here we highlight key takeaways from our most recent compensation analysis


Updated! Dive into your state’s data or compare across states

A summary of preparation, diversity, turnover and more across the South

Below: Explore key takeaways on teacher compensation in the South

Average Teacher Salaries

Average starting salary, average salary and average top salary vary across the SREB region.

A map that shows Maryland, Texas, and Florida had the highest average starting teacher salaries in the SREB region in 2020-2021. Another map that shows Maryland, Delaware, and Georgia had the highest average teacher salaries and the highest average top teacher salaries in the SREB region in 2020-2021.


But the South continues to lag significantly behind the nation overall for average teacher salaries and average top teacher salaries, despite a cost of living index that averages 95% each year (compared to 100% for the nation). A line graph showing average teacher starting salary, average salary, and average top salary for both the SREB region and the nation overall. All lines trend up, showing salaries increased between 2013-14 and 2020-21. But in every instance, salaries in the SREB region lag behind  national averages.

Explore more state-by-state teacher salary data using the Teacher Compensation Dashboard.


Teacher Health Benefits

A map showing Virginia, Alabama, and Florida had the lowest individual and family premium costs to teachers in 2022.

The chart below shows changes to average and median premiums for health benefits (for both individual and family plans) in SREB states. You can also use the Dashboard to further explore state-by-state data. 

A line graph showing changes in health premiums for teachers across the SREB region between 2020 and 2022. Costs for individuals and families (both average and median) trended up and got more expensive.



Teacher Retirement Benefits

A map showing Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, and Kentucky had the highest potential gross pension benefit for teachers currently eligible for retirement in 2020-2021. All states offer pension plans to teachers, and most SREB states have pension tiers with varying benefits for newer teachers. Six states now have portable investment or hybrid plan options for teachers — which can allow younger teachers to save more and can also be a cost-saving measure for state budgets by lowering their total unfunded liabilities.

SREB calculates a gross annual pension benefit for teachers for each plan by state. The chart below shows the changes in the regional average gross annual pension benefits for teachers currently at retirement. Nearly all states have lower pension benefit formulas for newly hired teachers, which reduces newer teachers’ gross benefit earning capability.

A line graph showing changes in gross pension payouts for retirement eligible teachers in the SREB region between 2019-2021. The line trends slightly upward.

Note: SREB calculates the typical gross annual pension benefit for a teacher in each state at age 65 with 30 years of service (not including Social Security). SREB is unable to calculate potential gross annual investment or hybrid plan benefit due to the high number of variables related to investments and returns.


Teacher Take-Home Pay

A map showing Delaware, Maryland, and Florida had the highest average take-home pay for teachers in 2021.

SREB calculates typical take-home or net pay for teachers in each state at different stages in their career.

A bar graph showing changes in average net / take-home pay for teachers in the SREB region between 2019-2021 for teachers with 1 year of experience, 15 years, and 35 years of experience. For each experience level take-home pay increased slightly during this timeframe, but can generally be classified as low.

Note: SREB calculates typical net pay for teachers in each state at different stages of their career (gross salary minus benefit costs and taxes) using standard assumptions for age, family, tax status and health needs.


State Spotlight: Big Changes in Kentucky

To explore your state data over time, see the SREB Teacher Compensation Dashboard.

Over the last few years, Kentucky has made significant changes to teacher health care and retirement benefits to help teachers take home more money each pay period. These changes increased take-home pay from an average of $2,160 per month in 2020 to $2,643 in 2021, without an increase in average gross salary.

How they did it: Kentucky’s premium rates were decided by a formula in 2020. The formula was: Plan Option Cost + Tobacco Usage + Living Well Promise + Time Specific Adjustments. In 2020-21 and beyond, this rate formula was discontinued, and a standard premium amount was instituted for all state plan options. With this restructuring, Kentucky greatly lowered the premium cost for all state plans.

A bar chart showing how Kentucky lowered the cost of both individual and family health premium costs for teachers by changing from a rate formula in 2020, to a standard premium amount for all state plan options in 2021.

Kentucky also established a new hybrid retirement plan for new teachers hired after January 1, 2022. This hybrid plan includes a pension portion and a defined contribution or investment plan portion, allowing teachers to receive a partial guaranteed pension payout at retirement, plus have some control over their own 401(k)-style retirement portfolio. Kentucky is the sixth state in the SREB region to offer a hybrid or investment plan to teachers.