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Best Cities for Teachers in 2012

No matter where you work, a teaching career offers a wide range of intangible rewards. Job satisfaction, an interesting daily routine and freedom from corporate power struggles are just a few of the non-material benefits of teaching.

male teacher poses with studentsWhen it comes to the more tangible rewards of the job, location can mean everything. Salaries and benefits for teachers vary from state to state, and some cities and school districts are more teacher-friendly than others. Demand for elementary, middle and high school teachers is expected to grow between now and 2018 as large numbers of teachers from the Baby Boomer generation reach retirement age, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS predicts the greatest demand will occur in states in the south and west. Job prospects for teachers will be best in urban areas and in high demand fields, such as science, mathematics and bilingual education.

In coming up with our list of best cities for teachers in 2012, we looked at cities across the country and classified them according to their compensation, benefits and teacher-to-student ratio. We also took a variety of lifestyle factors into account, including cost of living, proximity to fun activities, cultural opportunities and low crime rates.

Check out these top cities for teachers in 2012:

Dallas, Texas
The ninth largest city in the nation, Dallas is home to two of the nation’s highest-ranking public high schools (in 2011, Newsweek named the School of Science and Engineering Magnet as No. 1 and the School for the Talented and Gifted Magnet as No. 2). Dallas also boasts a thriving downtown that includes the largest urban arts district in the country, 13 entertainment districts and some of the best shopping in the southwest. For sports fans, the city offers professional teams in the four major sports and a moderate climate that supports year-round outdoor activities.

Teachers in Texas earn an average salary of $55,000, which is almost 20 percent higher than the national average. With teaching shortages in multiple subjects across the state, there are good opportunities for teachers in Texas.

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Rated as one of the most affordable places to live by Forbes, the city of Minneapolis offers teachers a vibrant urban lifestyle that includes restaurants, nightclubs, theaters, museums and sporting events. Two of the top shopping destinations in the country, the Mall of America and Nicollet Mall, are located in the Minneapolis area. Known as the City of Lakes, Minneapolis has over 180 parks and 50 miles of trails that offer a variety of recreational opportunities. It’s easy to see why Parenting Magazine ranked Minneapolis among the top five U.S. cities for families.

Teachers in Minnesota on average earn $52,000 and have the backing of Minneapolis residents, who have shown their support for public education by voting in support of the Strong Schools Strong City Referendumin 2008.

Austin, Texas
Austin has many features that make it one of the most exciting cities in America. Home to the Texas State Capitol and to one of the largest universities in the nation, Austin is ranked as the No. 2 city for families by Parenting Magazine and as the No. 1 Best City for the next decade by Austin is also one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. Nearly 25 percent of the population is below the age of 18, providing many opportunities for educators. The city’s official slogan, “Live Music Capital of the World,” reflects the importance of music and culture to the residents of Austin. Education is also important in Austin, with three high schools appearing on Newsweek’s list of top 100 high schools in America.

With an average salary of $49,000, teachers in Austin are paid about the same as in other states across the nation. The steady demand for teachers in Texas makes Austin a good choice for a career in education.

Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is another city that made Parenting Magazine’s list of top cities for families in 2011. Site of the Kentucky Derby, Louisville combines southern and midwestern culture in an environment of rolling green; there are more than 15,000 acres of park land in the city. Louisville has a reputation as a center for independent art, music and business. Five four-year universities are located in the city and 25 percent of the population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher, testimony to the value placed on education in Louisville.

The average salary of $45,000 for teachers in Kentucky is compensated for by a cost of living that has been rated by Sperling’s as well below the national average.

Spokane, Washington
Topping Parenting Magazine’s list of top U.S. cities for education, Spokane is truly a teacher-friendly city. The Spokane School District spends more than $11,000 per student annually, and schools in the city consistently rate highly in reading proficiency and math. Spokane hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year; the area is also notable for a wide variety of recreational opportunities in outlying natural areas. Teachers in Washington earn a competitive average salary of $52,000.

Tell Me More

  • Chris Fancher

    As a teacher in Texas and a happy teacher in Texas – living outside of Austin.  I am amazed at the parameters mentioned in these as reasons to teach in Dallas and in Austin.  They sound like google searches cut and pasted into this with no real analysis.  Dallas has no real downtown and their arts district is struggling, IMHO.  Fort Worth, on the other hand (30 miles to the West) has a much better music and arts scene.  As for Austin – I love it.  But the Austin School District has all kinds of problems and I can honestly say that I would not look for a job their in 2012.  There are HUGE cuts in education coming down the pike for Texas School Districts and you can expect thousands of layoffs for the 2012-2013 school year.  Not a great state to come to this year.

    • MAT@USC

      Chris — thanks so much for your feedback.  It’s definitely helpful to hear from a local what the inside perspective is.  Hoping that layoffs in the coming school year are not as high as you say they’re expected to be.  The Newsweek School Rankings have highlighted some great schools in both Austin and Dallas which we wanted to share.  Thanks again! -Sarah

    • Szafranski

       As an English teacher for the last 30 years, I am appalled that you would comment on this and not proofread your comment.  You are a teacher!!!!  I am sorry to criticize you, but you need to realize the importance of proofreading.  Your first ‘sentence’ is not a sentence.  Your subject-pronoun (Dallas/their) usage is incorrect.  ‘Their” is the wrong there (which is what it should be).  Teachers who do not spell correctly and demonstrate usage problems are very frequently targeted by the public who love to give our profession a bad rap.  We do not need to fuel the public; we are criticized enough. Please take my advice and proofread!  You are teaching children and need to be a good example.

      • A Fellow English Teacher

        Your “correction” is wrong, btw. The subject/pronoun usage should be Dallas/its. His choice of their is actually more correct than your choice of there. At least he used the right kind of pronoun. What’s appalling is that you would strongly and erroneously correct someone. This is why I am careful when correcting the written language of others because mistakes are easy to make. As you’ve shown, even English teachers aren’t perfect.

        • A MATH! Teacher

          It seems that mistakes are easier to make than you realized, since you made them throughout your response to Szafranski’s correction of Chris Fancher. First, you did not realize that Szafranski was implying that Dallas/their should be Dallas/its, as you acknowledged. Secondly, Szafranski was correcting “their” in Chris Fancher’s comment, “…I can honestly say that I would not look for a job THEIR in 2012.” (emphasis mine) In that case, “there” would be the correct choice. Lastly, two independent clauses connected by a conjunction require a comma at the end of the first clause, but you failed to include such a comma in your penultimate sentence. English teachers may not be perfect, but math teachers are.

      • Kelley

        Honestly, as a student I find that your reprimanding of another teacher is more appalling and improper for an educator than his supposed failure to type a proper sentence. I see your display of blatant disrespect for another teacher in front of the potential eyes of students, as unprofessional. It is unnecessary to explain that not every degree holder in the education field carries a dual degree with one being in English. It is not a requirement for any student to possess exceptional skills with the English language unless it is their major, hence why it is only required for most students to take only two English courses; I am sure a degree holder, you would be aware of the requirements. Just as I can assume you have not the same grasp of history as a history major such as myself.

  • Gwebb

    I was just doing some research on relocating to Texas to teach… I will definitely think about my decision again!!! Thanks Chris for opening my eyeballs!!!

  • Proofreading UK

    I agree with what you have written. Teaching profession do have lots of tangible and intangible benefits. But with this profession comes responsibility also. Unlike other professions where you commit mistake and it will be you facing the results, in this profession, your mistakes can have bad effect on the children and youth whom you are teaching. Teachers are responsible to proofread what the students say or write as they learn that.

  • Bill

    Teachers in my area earn 100,000 annually once they have been teaching for 10 years

    • Dameca BrownSugar Harrison

      What is your area? I may be looking to relocate.

    • jason

      I doubt it