Teaching Salary in California

In the state public school system, teacher salary in California is determined by individual school districts. According to the Sacramento Bee, the average teacher salary in 2011 was $67,871. Districts with the highest average teacher salaries in California are located near Santa Barbara, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Montecito Union Elementary District, covering a wealthy community near Santa Barbara, is the top-paying district with an average salary of $101,066.

The second and third highest paying districts are both located in Santa Clara County, which is also home to Silicon Valley. The average salary in the Mountain View-Los Altos Union district is $100,530, while Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union has an average salary of $92,636. Laguna Beach Unified, located outside Los Angeles in Orange County, is fourth on the list with an average salary of $91,828.

Teacher salary is determined by a number of factors, including an area’s cost of living, district funding and the number of experienced teachers working in the district. An individual teacher’s salary is generally based on college units completed and years of teaching experience. Across the state, starting teacher salaries are considerably lower than district average salaries. According to EdSource, starting teachers earn $45,637 in Los Angeles and $38,347 in San Diego.

California teaching jobs also include a number of non-salary benefits that should also be considered when seeking employment as a teacher. These include health insurance, paid leave and retirement benefits. There are also state and national programs that provide bonuses, loan forgiveness and other financial incentives for teachers.

Despite some staff reductions, California has an increasing long-term need for teachers, especially in high-need subject areas like special education, math and science. Increases in both the number of retiring teachers and in the number of students will fuel the demand for teachers in districts throughout the state.

The Teach California website (which is sponsored by the California Department of Education) suggests that teachers and teaching candidates who want to increase their marketability should consider these actions: earn an additional credential, add subject matter authorizations to an existing credential, and teach adult education or vocational education.

There is a common belief that private school teachers command higher salaries than teachers in public schools, but according to Glassdoor, this is not the case. The average teacher salary for California K-12 private school teachers is reported to be $47,471. The lower average salary paid by private schools may be due in part to the fact that state certification is not required for private school educators. Despite generally lower salaries, many teachers choose to teach at private schools in exchange for smaller class sizes, teaching philosophy or religious affiliation.

Visit the Sacramento Bee website and see a breakdown of average teacher salary by school district, as well as by individual school. You can also find detailed teacher salary information in the California Department of Education Form J-90 and in the California Employment Development Department’s Occupational Wages database (look for teacher salary information in the 252000 range of job codes for step No. 6). Read our blog post to learn about how to become a teacher in California.