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Best Cities for Teachers

Best Cities for Teachers

Teachers are the lifeblood of our economy and our future. The occupation is challenging yet rewarding as teachers are tasked to help shape and guide our future generations and prepare them for adulthood. In addition to preparing the class curriculum, clearly communicating classroom lessons, and coaching students to understand the materials, teachers also prepare students for the next stage, whether it’s graduating from preschool to kindergarten or high school to college. Teachers can specialize in a particular subject such as math or biology; however, for grades K-12, teachers usually have a general knowledge across core subjects.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 500,000 preschool teachers, 1.6 million kindergarten and elementary school teachers, 600,000 middle school teachers, and over 1.1 million high school teacher jobs in the U.S. The field is growing at a 3.82% rate, which is just as fast as the average growth in other professions across the nation. But where are the best opportunities for teachers?

Our study at AdvisorSmith ranked 380 U.S. cities to determine the most attractive cities for teachers to pursue their careers in. We list the top 50 cities for teachers below, and we also break down the top small, midsize, and large cities for this profession.

Our analysis found that many of the best cities for teachers are midsize cities. Of the top 50 cities, 46% of them were midsize, 28% were small, and only 26% were large cities. A majority of the top cities were located in the east and west coasts. Midsize cities won out in our study, with 23 out of the top 50 cities having metro area populations between 150,000 and 500,000.

Top Cities for Teachers by City Size

Thirty-seven of the top 50 best cities for teachers were midsize or small cities, but smaller city living may not be ideal for everyone. In order to highlight this distinction in lifestyle preference, our study segments cities into different sizes based on population, listing the top 10 small (population under 150,000), midsize (population of 150,000-500,000), and large (greater than 500,000 population) cities for teachers.

Best Cities for Teachers

1. Hanford, CA

Located in the south central portion of California, Hanford is a major trading center for the surrounding agricultural area. The city is the county seat of Kings County, which has a population of over 150,000. Major employers include the Kings County government, Adventist Health System, Hanford Elementary School District, and Del Monte Foods.

The overall county serves over 28,000 students. Hanford Elementary School District provides kindergarten through eighth grade education, operating nine elementary schools: Hamilton, Jefferson, Lee Richmond, Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., James Monroe, Roosevelt, Simas, and George Washington Elementary School. The district also operates two main high schools: John F. Kennedy and Woodrow Wilson Jr. High. Another district serving the northwestern portion of Kings County, Hanford Joint Union High School District, provides secondary education for 4,000 students through Hanford Union, Hanford West, Sierra Pacific, and Earl F. Johnson High School. The city has 28 preschools, 25 elementary schools, 18 middle schools, and 14 high schools. According to nonprofit GreatSchools’ school rankings, a number of schools in Hanford are rated seven or above on a ten-point scale, including Jefferson Charter Academy, Kings River-Hardwick Elementary School, Frontier Elementary, Joseph M. Simas Elementary, Pioneer Elementary, and Hanford High School. Currently, there are 23.1 students per teacher which is much higher than the national average of 16.8.

Hanford hosts 107% more jobs for teachers on a per-capita basis compared with the U.S. average. Teachers in Hanford also earn on average $80,330 per year, 56% higher than the national average.

2. Grand Island, NE

Grand Island is located right in the middle of Nebraska along the main Interstate 80. The city is part of the greater Grand Island metro area that includes Hall, Hamilton, Howard, and Merrick counties.

The city has one of the best school systems in the state of Nebraska. With continued investments in new facilities, better technologies, and specialized equipment for disabled students, Grand Island demonstrates its commitment to the students and the community. The Grand Island Public School District has 14 elementary schools, three middle schools, and one senior high school. Additionally, the city is served by College Park, Central Community College, Heartland Lutheran High School, Northwest High School, Central Catholic High School, and four private elementary schools. Central Community College provides vocational and master’s level education. College Park provides bachelor’s and master’s degree programs from Doane University, and Bellevue University is the fourth largest private college in Nebraska with curriculum covering undergraduate, master’s, doctor’s of business administration, healthcare, nursing, arts, and more. Currently, there are 14.5 students per teacher in Grand Island.

Teachers in Grand Island earn an average annual salary of $69,826, which is 36% higher than the national average. Grand Island’s cost of living is 12% lower than the rest of the nation.

3. Laredo, TX

Laredo sits right along the border of southern Texas next to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Unsurprisingly, most of Laredo’s economy is based on international trade with Mexico due to its proximity to Mexico; however, education accounts for one of the highest categories of employment for the city.

The city has 51 primary and secondary schools, serving 50,000 students across two main school districts. Some of the highest rated schools are Matias De Llano Elementary School, Trautmann Elementary School, Col Santos Benavides Elementary School, and Early College High School, all of which have GreatSchools ratings of nine or ten. Schools that have a higher than average student-to-teacher ratios include: Early College High School (24), Col Santos Benavides Elementary School (20), United South Middle School (18), Ligarde Elementary School (20), D D Hachar Elementary School (19), Gateway Academy-Sierra Vista Chart (28), and Daiches Elementary School (20). The public schools in Laredo are in the United Independent School District or the Laredo Independent School District. The United Independent School District serves 19% of the population of Laredo. There are 17 students per teacher in the city, which is on par with the rest of the nation.

Laredo has twice the number of jobs for teachers per capita compared to the U.S. average. A typical teacher in Laredo earns an annual salary of $62,818 which is 22% higher than the national average. The city also boasts of a cost of living that is 15% lower than the national average.

4. Las Cruces, NM

Situated in the southern part of New Mexico, Las Cruces is the second largest city in the state, next to Albuquerque. The city sits at the intersection of the 25 and 10, which are major transportation routes across the nation. Las Cruces is a critical economic and geographical city for the Mesilla Valley, which produces corn, chiles, cotton, onions, and wine. Major employers include New Mexico State University, Las Cruces Public Schools, the City of Las Cruces, Walmart, Dona Ana Community College, Addus HealthCare, and NASA.

The Las Cruces Public School District covers 26 elementary schools, nine middle schools, and six high schools. There are also four charter schools within the Las Cruces Public Schools District. One of the charter schools, Las Montanas, is relatively new and caters to at-risk students. The other high school, New America High School, caters to younger and older adults going for their GED or returning for further education. The top-rated schools in Las Cruces include Desert Hills, Jornada, Highland, and Monte Vista Elementary Schools. There are on average 15 students per teacher in the city. Schools with higher than the average student-to-teacher ratios include: Mountainair Public Schools (23), Lovington Municipal Schools (17), and Clovis Municipal Schools (17).

Las Cruces’ cost of living is 10% lower than the national average and boasts a low unemployment rate. Teachers in Las Cruces earn an average salary of $64,543. The city also hosts 69% more teaching jobs per capita than the national average.

5. El Centro, CA

El Centro is another major city that sits near the Mexico border. The majority of residents are Hispanic, and the city predominantly speaks Spanish. Many residents also traverse between California and Mexico frequently. The city itself is surrounded by thousands of acres of farmland producing carrots, lettuce, and other crops worth over $1 billion annually. Agriculture accounts for 48% of all employment in the county; however, El Centro’s largest industries include healthcare, retail trade, and educational services.

The student population is served by three school districts: El Centro Elementary School District, McCabe Union Elementary School District, and Central Union High School District. Within the districts, there are seven elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and one magnet school. The top schools include McCabe Elementary School and Sunflower Elementary School, which have GreatSchools ratings of eight and seven, respectively. El Centro is in need of teachers as indicated by the current student-teacher ratio of 26, which is much higher than the national average of 16.

Teachers in El Centro earn an average salary of $69,823, which is 36% higher than the national average. The city hosts 97% more jobs for teachers on a per-capita basis compared with the U.S. average.

Top 50 Cities for Teachers

Below, we list the top cities for teachers. We include data on the total number of jobs, the number of jobs per capita, average annual salaries, and the cost of living.

RankCityCity SizeAverage Annual SalaryTotal JobsLocation QuotientCost of Living
1Hanford, CAMidsize $80,330 1,5802.0799
2Grand Island, NESmall $69,826 1,2801.1688
3Laredo, TXMidsize $62,818 4,1202.0185
4Las Cruces, NMMidsize $64,543 2,3401.6990
5El Centro, CAMidsize $69,823 2,2301.97100
6Kingston, NYMidsize $74,604 1,8401.33102
7El Paso, TXLarge $60,596 10,1301.2883
8Hinesville, GASmall $55,320 4102.3584
9New Bedford, MASmall $75,630 2,1001.43107
10Muskegon, MIMidsize $58,612 1,4700.8780
11Bakersfield, CALarge $72,705 9,2301.28103
12McAllen, TXLarge $51,458 13,7901.7977
13Vineland, NJMidsize $67,125 2,0701.3997
14Brownsville, TXMidsize $50,472 6,7301.9577
15Buffalo, NYLarge $61,042 14,180186
16Rome, GASmall $60,150 6101.6791
17Merced, CAMidsize $67,330 2,3301.72103
18Johnstown, PASmall $55,993 1,6301.5184
19East Stroudsburg, PAMidsize $62,353 2,2501.7796
20Sherman, TXSmall $55,578 1,5601.4483
21Visalia, CAMidsize $66,785 3,8801.2799
22Waterbury, CTSmall $64,376 2,8601.71100
23Dalton, GASmall $58,500 5500.8784
24Youngstown, OHLarge $51,035 6,8801.2676
25Leominster, MASmall $74,555 1,7001.35112
26Binghamton, NYMidsize $58,882 2,7901.0887
27Amarillo, TXMidsize $56,717 2,7801.184
28Bloomington, ILMidsize $62,128 2,3001.0192
29Utica, NYMidsize $60,046 3,2200.9889
30Brunswick, GASmall $62,343 1,3101.3596
31Glens Falls, NYSmall $62,882 1,8301.2596
32Decatur, ALMidsize $50,700 1,0502.0584
33Syracuse, NYLarge $60,330 7,8100.9990
34Rochester, NYLarge $60,904 15,4701.2293
35Modesto, CALarge $77,213 4,6401.04116
36Corpus Christi, TXMidsize $57,148 4,7301.0586
37Yuba City, CAMidsize $65,840 1,8002.4114
38Madera, CAMidsize $64,747 1,4701.68104
39Augusta, GALarge $54,822 6,1201.0683
40Toledo, OHLarge $55,112 8,2601.1284
41Dayton, OHLarge $54,938 9,9101.0784
42Chambersburg, PAMidsize $62,000 1,6701.4399
43Clarksville, TNMidsize $60,450 1,6900.8291
44Allentown, PALarge $64,028 10,5801.19100
45Florence, ALSmall $50,665 1,5401.6683
46Flint, MIMidsize $53,768 3,5000.9282
47Danbury, CTSmall $79,168 2,2601.23125
48Battle Creek, MISmall $54,370 1,1900.8983
49Pittsburgh, PALarge $60,030 26,4300.8191
50Janesville, WIMidsize $54,703 1,6701.5690


AdvisorSmith’s study examined three key variables in determining the best cities for teachers to pursue their careers in.

1. Average annual salaries for teachers

For the purposes of this study, we focus on teachers ranging from preschool to high school, excluding special education and career/technical education.

We considered the average annual salary earned by teachers across the different teacher groups: preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school in each city in our study. The higher the average salary, the more highly we ranked a given metro area. The average salary for teachers in our study was $51,418.

2. Density of jobs for teachers in each city

Our study leveraged a location quotient, which represents the number of jobs available to teachers, relative to the national average. Cities with a higher location quotient have a higher concentration of jobs for teachers, which means more career opportunities and more demand for developers in those cities. Cities with higher location quotients ranked more highly in our study.

In 2018, there were 3.8 million teachers (preschool through high school) employed in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for teachers will grow at a 3.82% pace over the 10-year period of 2018-2028, which is a fast as the national job growth outlook. This was calculated using a weighted average across the different age groups and number of jobs.

3. Cost of living index for each city

We adjusted the salaries earned by teachers in each city by a cost of living multiplier. The cost of living, including necessities such as rent, transportation, and groceries, varies by city, so it is important to normalize the salaries so that the cities can be compared fairly. Cities with more affordable lifestyles were ranked more highly in our study.

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
[2] Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics
[3] Sperling’s Best Places Cost of Living Index

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