North Carolina, like many states, uses a teacher salary scale that increases salary based on experience (years teaching) and education (bachelor’s, master’s, and National Board certification.) Teachers also receive ABC bonuses if they are in schools that make at least expected progress, and local salary supplements range from $0 to $4,712 for a beginning teacher, and up to $8,989 for a teacher with 30 years of experience. Nearly half of North Carolina’s teachers have more than 10 years of experience, so to fully understand teacher salaries we must look at both average and beginning salaries. The state’s significant number of National Board-certified teachers also skews the salary averages.
Average salaries. According to National Education Association (NEA) data, North Carolina ranked 27th in 2005-06 for the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with an average teacher salary of $43,922, compared to the national average of $49,109. The District of Columbia ranked first, followed by Connecticut and California. National averages and rankings, however, do not take into account important factors like cost of living, experience levels of teachers in different states, pension contributions, bonuses and local salary supplements. Moreover, the national average is misleading because it is not an average of each state’s average salary, but rather an average of all teachers’ salaries in the nation. Therefore teachers in populous (and high-paying) states like California weigh more heavily in the national average, pulling the number up. In 2005-06, the national average was $49,109, but the average state actually paid its teachers $46,588.
According to a study by the John Locke Foundation, once cost of living, teacher experience, and pension benefits are accounted for, North Carolina moves from 27th to 19th in the rankings of 48 states and D.C. (Massachusetts and New Hampshire were excluded due to insufficient data). The adjusted average salary was $51,687, compared to a national median of $50,694 and a national average of $48,954. Other states had even more dramatic movements. Georgia moved from 18th to 1st, and the District of Columbia dropped from 1st to 49th.
Beginning salaries. Looking at beginning teacher salaries, North Carolina ranks 42nd, with an NEA-reported salary of $27,392. Adjusting for pension contributions and cost of living using the John Locke methodology, the state moves up to 38th. It should be noted, however, that the actual beginning teacher salary in North Carolina in 2005-06 ranged from $26,626 to $38,067. (Maximum salary includes supplements for additional education degrees, local supplements, and ABC bonuses.) One reason North Carolina’s beginning salary ranks lower than its average salary is that the average is pulled up by the relatively large number of teachers with National Board certification.
National board salaries. With 8 percent certified, North Carolina has the highest number of National Board-certified teachers in the country. North Carolina pays the board assessment fee, gives teachers three days of paid leave to prepare for the review, awards 15 hours of continuing education credit, and adds 12 percent to a teacher’s salary for National Board certification. Other states vary considerably in their National Board incentives, with North Carolina considered one of the more generous in this regard.