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.

When 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 Referendum in 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.

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