How Much Do Teachers Make in California?


Teaching can be extremely fulfilling, yet it requires significant sacrifice to maintain satisfaction. Many educators work multiple jobs to cover costs.

Teachers often sell beauty supplies or deliver groceries as extra income – all contributing to earning additional revenue – but they genuinely require compensation more adequately; teachers say they deserve better wages.

Salary Schedules

Teachers in California enjoy many advantages to being educators, such as above-average salaries and plentiful job prospects. Teachers can work at public, charter, magnet, and private schools – with average annual pay at high schools being $85,080, surpassing the national average of $61,660.

Teachers in California can make additional money as coaches in their schools. Schools typically pay coaches extra than their teaching salary for coaching duties. It can be an excellent way to supplement your income; remember that coaching requires working a full day as well as attending practices and games after school hours.

The average California teacher’s salary varies significantly based on factors like district size and cost of living. Teachers in larger urban school districts tend to make more than those working in smaller, rural schools; additionally, teachers living in more costly communities must cover additional housing or other necessities.

California teachers receive a base salary and pension through CalSTRS, an alternative 401(k) system with employer and employee contributions. Teachers certified to teach special education may earn around $2,000 annually over their colleagues.

Seniority also influences teacher salaries: the longer an educator has been with their district, the more money they tend to earn in compensation. Furthermore, teachers specializing in one subject area typically make more money compared with newcomers to that field.

California lawmakers are deliberating AB 938, a bill designed to increase average teacher pay by 50% by 2030. It would set annual targets under the Local Control Funding Formula to reach this goal over time. The California Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association support this proposal. At the same time, it also has support from the Service Employees International Union, which represents classified staff like secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, and school food service workers.

Teachers’ Unions

There has been much discussion over whether teachers’ unions are beneficial or detrimental to education reform. While this debate can often seem divisive, veteran educationists know it to be a false dichotomy: In reality, both local teachers’ unions and state unions serve a valuable purpose – helping ensure teacher pay is not compromised due to competing demands for state budget dollars.

Union collective bargaining agreements typically establish salary schedules that reflect educators’ levels of education and years of experience, with districts posting these salaries on their websites so that teachers know exactly how much their peers are making – this helps foster solidarity between educators and increase loyalty to their union.

California teachers typically earn an annual salary of $82,282, roughly eight thousand above the national median. But the highest-paid educators work at schools in wealthier communities where teachers make more than 136,000 – more than double what would be earned elsewhere in California.

Teaching in California offers many advantages, including an expansive economy with many teaching jobs and competitive salaries. But it also presents its share of challenges – for instance, recruiting and retaining experienced teachers at California’s highest poverty schools can be especially hard; such schools frequently struggle to meet standardized test-score goals, with teachers’ experience and student achievement scores dropping as poverty rates increase.

The solution to high-poverty schools may be increasing teacher pay; however, unions have opposed such plans. CTA and CFT oppose “differentiated pay,” in which teachers at high-poverty schools receive increased compensation. Instead, unions propose recruiting talented teachers through scholarships that cover tuition or reduce debt while offering professional development classes as an effective solution.

Studies suggest that differentiated pay can boost student achievement in low-income schools, but the CTA and CFT disagree. They point out that school district finances can be complex, with teacher pay representing 85 to 90% of expenditures within most districts, leaving little room for additional spending initiatives within classrooms.

Professional Development

California invests heavily in education, spending $9,078 per college student compared to an average national cost of $8,196. Furthermore, they offer scholarships, grants, and loans specifically targeted to future teachers – some schools even offer degrees at no price per year! Depending on individual circumstances, tuition may need to be paid; nonetheless, earning potential can make this worthwhile investment worthwhile!

The California Teachers Association boasts more than 310,000 members and 1,100 local chapters, offering professional development opportunities, events, leadership resources, and peer mentoring for experienced educators through its Leadership Fellows program. Furthermore, the CDC also provides online courses, peer mentoring sessions, and webinars on crucial education issues like school accreditation procedures or integrating technology into classrooms.

California legislature members have advanced AB 938, increasing teacher salaries by 50% by 2023-2024. Citing an Economic Policy Institute report which found teachers face an unfair wage penalty compared to workers with similar qualifications and certifications, this bill seeks to close this gap and make it easier for districts to attract and retain teachers while also raising salaries of school support staff such as secretaries, custodians, and food service workers.

School district salary schedules differ by region and district but generally follow a step-and-lane structure that rewards teachers according to years of service and level of education; their positions within this lane can then be adjusted for cost-of-living increases as necessary. Additionally, teachers may receive credits upon completing certain professional classes.

Master’s degrees can increase a teacher’s earning potential and open doors to new career possibilities. Most programs typically take one to two years to complete and feature specializations in secondary education, elementary education, educational technology, and English as a second language. Furthermore, they qualify teachers for higher-level management or administrative positions in both private and government sectors; additionally, those looking for academic jobs (like professorship) or conducting research may pursue doctoral degrees, which typically take between three and five years and require researching, writing and defending a dissertation as part of their doctoral degree program.


California teachers enjoy numerous benefits that comprise an increasing portion of their compensation package. Many districts spend 85% to 90% of their budget on employee pay (including salaries and required benefits such as health and life insurance), leaving little money for programs to raise student achievement or teacher-initiated projects.

California teachers enjoy more than the standard salary regarding retirement benefits. Teachers employed by public school systems automatically enter California’s defined-benefit pension plan known as STRS or “stirs.” According to data from 2021, this plan pays out an average annual payout of $57,756 upon retirement. To add extra tax-deferred savings opportunities for their future, many teachers also create 403(b) and 457(b) accounts in addition to entering this defined benefit pension plan.

STRS Pension Plan was created in 1918, long before Social Security existed in 1935. Teachers contribute 8% of their salary to this fund; California provides another 8.25% as state contributions. A retirement benefit is guaranteed even if teachers pass away before age 62 – further favoring teachers who start early, earn graduate degrees quickly, and retire at optimal ages to maximize payout. A 2021 study by Bellwether Partners identified California’s pension system among the ten worst systems nationwide.

California teachers can benefit from retirement and professional development resources available through its education community. Organizations such as the California Teachers Association offer learning experiences, scholarships, mentorship stipends, and other avenues that can assist teachers in becoming the best they can be in their careers.

The state’s Governing Board also establishes teacher salaries through collective-bargaining negotiations between school districts and teachers’ union representatives. Teachers’ unions provide bargaining leverage, discounts, and incentives such as concessionary dues payments; however, they require members to pay an average annual dues payment of $1,072 on average as membership dues. Compensation levels differ based on district, region, and experience level for teachers in California.