Teachers’ salaries

Teachers’ salaries represent the largest single cost in formal education and have a direct impact on the attractiveness of the teaching profession. They influence decisions to enrol in teacher education, become a teacher after graduation, return to the teaching profession after a career interruption, and/or remain a teacher (as, in general, the higher the salaries, the fewer the people who choose to leave the profession).


Salary structures usually define the salaries paid to teachers at different points in their careers. Deferred compensation, which rewards employees for staying in organisations or professions and for meeting established performance criteria, is also used in teachers’ salary structures. OECD data on teachers’ salaries are limited to information on statutory salaries at four points of the salary scale: starting salaries, salaries after 10 years of service, salaries after 15 years of experience, and salaries at the top of the scale. Salaries are for those teachers who have the typical qualification (i.e. that have the qualification held by the largest proportion of teachers across the teaching force). Qualifications beyond the minimum required to enter the teaching profession can lead to wage increases in some countries.


Teachers’ statutory salaries are one component of teachers’ total compensation. Other benefits, such as regional allowances for teaching in remote areas, family allowances, reduced rates on public transport and tax allowances on the purchase of cultural materials, may also form part of teachers’ total remuneration. There are also large differences in taxation and social-benefits systems in OECD countries. All this should be borne in mind when comparing salaries across countries.

In most OECD countries, teachers’ salaries increase with the level of education they teach.


Teachers’ salaries vary widely across countries. The salaries of lower secondary school teachers with 15 years of experience and typical qualification range from less than USD 15 000 in Estonia, Hungary, to more than USD 60 000 in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States and exceed USD 100 000 in Luxembourg.

Between 2000 and 2013, teachers’ salaries rose, in real terms, in all countries with available data, except Denmark (upper secondary), France and Italy. However, in most countries, salaries increased less since 2005 than between 2000 and 2005.

Salaries at the top of the scale for teachers with typical qualifications are, on average, 64%, 66%, 65% and 66% higher, respectively, than starting salaries in pre-primary, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education. The difference tends to be greatest when it takes many years to progress through the scale. In countries where it takes 30 years or more to reach the top of the salary scale, salaries at that level can be more than 90% higher, on average, than starting salaries..

On average across OECD countries with available data, teachers’ salaries decreased, for the first time since 2000, by around 5% at all levels of education between 2009 and 2013. The economic downturn may also have an influence on the supply of teachers. In general, when the general economy is weak, and there is high unemployment among graduates and low graduate earnings, teaching might seem to be a more attractive job choice than other occupations.


Further information

Online databases


Table. Teachers’ statutory salaries at different points in their careers


Age distribution of teachers in secondary education