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The best and worst countries to be a teacher, based on salary

The best and worst countries to be a teacher, based on salary

  • Teachers in LA have gone on strike for the first time in 30 years to demand salary increases, smaller class sizes, and more support staff in schools.
  • The average American teacher makes $44,000 starting out and approximately $68,000 at the upper end of their earning potential.
  • In comparison, teachers in Luxembourg can make up to $137,000.
  • Here's a look at how teacher salaries across countries stack up at different experience levels.

Teachers in Los Angeles have gone on strike for the first time in 30 years to demand salary increases, smaller class sizes, and more support staff in schools.

The LA school district is the second biggest in the US and the strike affects nearly half a million students and their families.

For context, according to the NEA, the average teacher salary in California for the 2016-2017 school year was $78,711 - one of the highest averages in the US.

Meanwhile, according to data released by the OECD, the starting salary for a high school teacher with no experience in Luxembourg is about $79,000. The peak salary for a veteran teacher is $137,000.

The OECD's full data set reveals a yawning gap between the highest and lowest paid teachers around the world. When converted to US dollars, many of the salaries fall well short of the average American teacher, who makes $44,000 starting out and approximately $68,000 at the upper end.

Here is the full breakdown of how teacher salaries stack up across the world, sorted by school level and gender.

Elementary school teachers — best and worst

Elementary school teachers — best and worst
Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

In Luxembourg, one of the richest countries in the world, an inexperienced teacher can expect to make more on his or her first day than teachers in nearly all other countries can hope to make in their entire careers.

The only exception is Switzerland, where elementary school teachers make $84,000 at the top range of salaries.

Meanwhile, salaries in the three-lowest-paid countries all top out below the starting salaries in the 10 best-paid countries. Korean teachers start out at $28,352, while Czech, Hungarian, and Polish teachers shouldn't expect to make more than that throughout their careers.

High school teachers — best and worst

High school teachers — best and worst
Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Luxembourg's and Switzerland's dominance continues on for high school teachers. Likewise, Korean teachers still see the biggest jumps in pay over their careers.

Though a brand-new teacher in Korea makes just $27,702 in their first year, by the time they've hit the 10-year mark, their salary rises to $41,875, and at the top end, it's $77,979.

Austria is one of the only countries to jump significantly from elementary school pay to high school. High school teachers make about $9,000 more at the top of the scale.

Elementary school teachers — best and worst by gender

Elementary school teachers — best and worst by gender
Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Luxembourg doesn't just dominate with the size of its paychecks, but their level of equality, too. Male and female elementary school teachers both make roughly $95,000 at the top end of the pay scale.

The same can't be said for the other countries in the top five, many of which see discrepancies of a few thousand dollars tilted in men's favor.

Teachers in the worst-paying countries see smaller gaps.

Note: The OECD didn't collect gender data for every country in the general list.

High school teachers — best and worst by gender

High school teachers — best and worst by gender
Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

The story is roughly the same for high school teachers. Luxembourg pays its teachers $109,000 each.

Poland makes the list for the five worst-performing countries in terms of high-school salaries. No country in the bottom five has a gender wage gap of more than $1,000.

Note: The OECD didn't collect gender data for every country in the general list.

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