We’ve all felt the influence of teachers in our lives, but how much do we know about the teaching profession? How many teachers are there in the US? What is the current state of teaching careers, and what does the future outlook of this profession look like?
In this article, we’ll explore the top statistics on teachers in the US, from the number of teachers according to grade level, gender, public and private schools, as well as trends and teacher shortages. We’ll also look into:
- General statistics on teachers in the US
- How many K-12 teachers by grade level (elementary, middle, high school)
- Number of special education teachers
- How many public school teachers in the US vs. private schools
- School teachers' demographics
- Distribution of teachers per community type (urban, suburban, rural)
- Teachers-to-student ratio per state
- Teachers and educational attainment
- Average teacher salaries
- Teacher shortages and other challenges faced by teachers in the US
- Future outlook on the teaching profession
- Frequently asked questions
Let’s dive in!
Top statistics on teachers in the US
- There are 4 million teachers in the US, and they make up 2.5% of the working population.
- 3.5 million teachers teach in public schools and about 466,000 teach in private schools.
- 50% of teachers teach at the elementary level, while about 24% teach in high school and 19% teach in middle to junior high school.
- 31,821 teachers specialize in career or technical education, while 39,311 teachers specialize in special education, and 4,461 teachers specialize in adult education.
- In general, school teachers in the US are predominantly female (77%), white (80%), and middle-aged, with a master's degree or higher (50%).
- The median annual wage for high school teachers was $62,360 in May 2022.
- Both public and private K–12 school teachers reported an average of about 15 total years of teaching experience.
- Fewer people entering the teaching profession. The number of bachelor's degrees in education in the US has decreased by approximately 52% from the 1970s to 2020.
How many teachers there are in the US
1. As of 2022, there are over 4 million teachers in the US. (MDR Education).
2. Teachers make up 2.5% of the working population.
3. The number of teachers in 2022 is 2.56% higher than the previous year, as there were 3.9 million teachers in 2021.
4. There are 3.5 million full-time and part-time traditional public school teachers.
5. There are 251,000 public charter school teachers. (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES]).
6. The number of private school teachers is 466,000.
7. 7% of teachers are employed in 10% or 11,355 schools that cover all K-12 levels. The rest teach in schools that specialize in grade levels.
8. 102,598 teachers work in state-run schools in the U.S.
9. 5,781 people work as virtual teachers.
10. In 2022, Blue Ribbon schools that achieve high academic excellence or address achievement gaps employ 12, 465 teachers.
11. Blue Ribbon school teachers make up 0.3% of the total number of teachers in the US.
How many K-12 teachers by grade level (elementary, middle, high school)
12. 2,066,541 teachers work at Title I schools. Title I schools are those that receive additional federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education due to the high percentage of low-income families they serve.
13. About 47% of public schools currently qualify for Title I funding.
14. 1.9 million of the total public school teacher population are elementary teachers. (NCES).
15. Elementary school teachers make up about 50% of the teacher population in the US.
16. Specifically, at the elementary instructional level, the number of teachers was 9% higher in 2020–21 than in the previous decade.
Middle School and Junior High Teachers
17. At the secondary instructional level, the number of teachers was 13% higher in 2020–21 than in the previous decade.
18. 1.9 million teachers teach at the secondary level (middle school, junior high, and high school).
19. Middle schools, usually serving grades six through eight, employ 545,325 teachers.
20. Junior highs account for another 96,160 teachers.
21. Together, middle school and junior high teachers make up about 16% of the teacher population.
High School level
22. About a quarter of teachers work in high schools (24.7%).
23. 992, 386 are senior high school teachers.
24. Schools that combine grades K-12 employ 291,724 teachers.
Other types of teachers
25. There are 31,821 teachers specializing in career or technical education. They teach vocational subjects such as auto repair, cosmetology, and culinary arts.
26. There are 39,311 teachers specializing in special education who work with students who have learning, mental, emotional, or physical disabilities
27. 4,461 teachers specialize in adult education.
How many public school teachers in the US vs. private schools
28. Teachers teach in a variety of settings and community types.
Public school teachers
29. There are over 3.5 million full- and part-time public school teachers.
30. Overall, the number of public school teachers is approximately 11% higher than in the previous decade.
31. The number of public charter school teachers was 22% higher than in 2017–18.
32. 2,857 teachers work in Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools, federally funded public schools in the U.S. are located on Indian reservations and are run by local Native American tribal councils.
33. Charter schools in the U.S. employ 198,621 teachers.
34. Currently, 89,598 teachers work in magnet schools, which are public schools that offer specialized curricula or programs designed to attract students from diverse backgrounds who have specific educational interests or talents.
35. 23,159 teachers work specifically in STEM schools.
36. Altogether, magnet schools and STEM schools employ 3% of public school teachers.
Private school teachers
37. There are 509,000 private school teachers in the US.
38. Unlike public school teachers, the number of private school teachers was 8% lower in 2020–21 than in 2017–18.
39. Private and Catholic schools account for about 9% of teachers.
40. There are 234,682 teachers who work in private (non-Catholic) schools.
41. 127,504 teachers in Catholic schools.
General school teachers demographics
42. In general, school teachers in the US are predominantly female, white, and middle-aged, with a master's degree or higher.
School teachers distribution by age
43. Public charter school teachers are generally younger than those in traditional public and private schools.
44. The median age of public school teachers is 42 years old.
45. The median age of private school teachers is 45 years old.
46. Charter schools have a higher proportion of teachers under 40.
47. Charter schools also have a lower proportion of teachers aged 50 and over compared to traditional public and private schools.
48. Among teachers under 30, public charter schools had the highest percentage at 21%.
49. Traditional public and private schools both had 14% of their teachers in the under-30 age group.
50. In contrast, public charter schools had the lowest percentage of teachers aged 60 or over at 7%.
51. Private schools had the highest percentage of teachers aged 60 and over at 17%.
School teachers distribution by race
52. Most K-12 public school teachers are White (80%) while teachers from other racial/ethnic groups were underrepresented.
53. In 2020-21, the percentage of White public school teachers was down from 82%.
54. Black public school teachers accounted for 6%, a slight decrease from 7%.
55. Hispanic public school teachers increased to 9%, up from 8%.
56. Asian public school teachers saw an increase of 2.4%, compared to 1.8%.
52. The percentage of public school teachers who are of two or more races rose to 2%, up from 1%.
53. The racial/ethnic composition of elementary and secondary teachers in 2020-21 varied by school type.
54. White teachers were most prevalent among private school teachers (83%) and least prevalent among public charter school teachers (69%).
55. Hispanic teachers were most common among public charter school teachers (15%), while traditional public and private school teachers were at 9% and 8%, respectively.
56. Black teachers were most prevalent among public charter school teachers (10%) and least among private school teachers (4%).
57. The percentage of Asian teachers was higher for public charter school teachers (3%) compared to traditional public school teachers (2%), with no significant difference for private school teachers.
58. American Indian/Alaska Native, Pacific Islander, and those of Two or more races each accounted for 2% or less of elementary and secondary teachers across all school types.
School teachers distribution by gender
59. 77% of public school teachers are female. (We Are Teachers).
60. 23% of public school teachers are male.
61. The percentage of male teachers at the elementary instructional level is 11%.
62. The percentage of male teachers at the secondary instructional level is 36%.
63. 89% of public elementary school teachers are female.
64. 72% of teachers in middle school are female.
65. 60% of teachers in secondary/high school are female.
66. 74% of teachers in combined/other grade levels are female.
67. In private schools, 90% of elementary/middle school teachers are female.
68. 56% of teachers in private secondary/high schools are female.
69. 77% of teachers in combined/other grade levels in private schools are female.
Geographic distribution of teachers
70. According to the NCES Common Core of Data (CCD), 6% of staff employed in rural areas were teachers, compared with 7% in suburban areas, 6% in cities, and 6% in towns.
71. 69.5% of teachers in cities are White, 0.4% are American Indian or Alaska Native, 4.1% are Asian, 9.2% are Black, 14% are Hispanic, 0.2% are Pacific Islander, and 2.1% are of two or more races.
Here’s the tabulated distribution of teachers by race in urban areas in table format:
|Ethnicity||Percentage of teachers in urban areas|
|American Indian or Alaska Native||0.4%|
|Two or more races||2.1%|
Source: National Center for Education Statistics (2022)
72. 80% of suburban teachers are White, 0.2% are American Indian or Alaska Native, 2.6% are Asian, 6.1% are Black, 9.5% are Hispanic, 0.1% are Pacific Islander, and 1.5% are of two or more races.
Here’s the tabulated distribution of teachers by race in suburban areas:
|Ethnicity||Percentage of teachers in suburban areas|
|American Indian or Alaska Native||0.2%|
|Two or more races||1.5%|
Source: National Center for Education Statistics (2022)
73. 88.9% of rural teachers are White, 0.7% are American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.5% are Asian, 3.3% are Black, 4.9% are Hispanic, 0.1% are Pacific Islander, and 1.5% are of two or more races.
Here’s the tabulated distribution of teachers by race in rural areas:
|Ethnicity||Percentage of teachers in rural areas|
|American Indian or Alaska Native||0.4%|
|Two or more races||1.5%|
Source: National Center for Education Statistics (2022)
Teacher-to-student ratio per state
74. California has the highest teacher-to-student ratio at 22-to-1. At the same time, Maine boasts the lowest, 11-to-1. (Data Administration).
75. Florida has the fewest teachers compared to the overall population, with only 6.5 teachers per 1,000 residents.
76. North Dakota, Nebraska, Vermont, New Jersey, and Wyoming have the most teachers per 1,000 residents.
77. Here are the teacher-to-student ratios for each state:
|State||The teacher-to-student ratio|
Source: District Administration (2022)
Teachers by educational attainment and years of experience
General statistics on educational attainment
78. 1.3% of all teachers have less than a bachelor’s degree. (Institute of Education Sciences [IES])
79. 38.9% of teachers have a bachelor’s degree.
80. 50% of teachers have a master’s degree.
81. 9.7% of teachers have higher than a master’s degree, such as a professional diploma, a doctorate, or advanced graduate studies.
82. A higher percentage of secondary teachers held a master's degree as their highest degree compared to elementary teachers (53% vs. 49%). (NCES).
83. A higher percentage of secondary teachers hold a doctor's degree as their highest degree compared to elementary teachers (2% vs. 1%).
84. There was no measurable difference in the percentages of elementary and secondary teachers who held an education specialist degree or certificate.
85. A higher percentage of elementary teachers (91%) hold a regular certificate compared to secondary teachers (89%).
86. Lower percentages of elementary teachers held other types of certificates compared to secondary teachers. (Institute of Education Sciences).
87. Private K-12 school teachers had taken fewer graduate or undergraduate courses across a range of teaching-related subjects prior to their first year of teaching compared to public K-12 school teachers.
88. Public school teachers (78%) had a higher percentage of courses in lesson planning compared to private school teachers (66%).
Educational attainment among public school teachers
89. About 51% of public K–12 school teachers have a master's degree, up from 48% in the previous decade.
90. 38% of public K–12 school teachers hold a bachelor's degree.
91. 10% of public K–12 school teachers have higher than a master’s degree.
92. Approximately 1% of public K–12 school teachers have less than a bachelor's degree as their highest earned degree.
93. 8.4% of public school teachers held an education specialist degree or certificate in 2020–21, compared to 7.6% in the previous decade.
94. 1.4% of public school teachers had a doctor's degree in 2020–21, an increase from 1.1% in the previous decade.
95. About 90% of public school teachers held a regular or standard state teaching certificate or advanced professional certificate.
96. 4% of public school teachers hold a provisional or temporary certificate.
97. 3% of public school teachers have a probationary certificate.
98. 2% of public school teachers have had no certification, and 1% held a waiver or emergency certificate.
Educational attainment among private school teachers
99. Among private K–12 school teachers:
- 5% have less than a bachelor’s degree
- 45.2% hold a bachelor’s degree
- 40.7% have a master’s degree
- 9.1% have higher than a master’s degree
100. Among elementary or middle school teachers in private schools:
- 10.1% had less than a bachelor’s degree
- 46.1% have a bachelor’s degree
- 36% have a master’s degree
- 7.7% have higher than a master’s degree
101. Among junior or high school teachers in private schools:
- 1.9% have less than a bachelor’s degree
- 32.2% have a bachelor’s degree
- 53.5% have a master’s degree
- 12.5% have higher than a master’s degree
Years of experience
102. Both public and private K–12 school teachers reported an average of about 15 total years of teaching experience.
103. According to NCES, of all public school teachers,
- 7% had less than 3 years of teaching experience
- 29% had 3 to 9 years of experience
- 37% had 10 to 20 years of experience
- 26% had more than 20 years of experience
104. Teachers have spent an average of about 8 years at their current school.
105. On average, teachers in traditional public schools had more total years of teaching experience, with an average of 15 years.
106. In contrast, teachers in public charter schools had an average of 10 years of total teaching experience.
Average teacher salaries and weekly hours
107. The median annual wage for high school teachers was $62,360 in May 2022. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
108.Average base salaries for full-time public school teachers in 2020–21 were generally higher for those with higher levels of educational attainment.
109.The average base salary for teachers with a doctor’s degree is $71,300, which is 36% higher than the salary of teachers with a bachelor’s degree, 6% higher than those with a master’s, and 1% higher than those with an education specialist degree or certificate. (NCES).
110.The average salary of teachers with a bachelor’s degree is $52,500.
111.The average salary of teachers with a master’s degree is $67,000.
112.The average salary of teachers with an education specialist degree or certificate is $70,500.
113.While salaries differ across the country, salary levels for teachers within states or school districts are often set based on teachers’ years of experience and education credentials.
114.Salaries range from $45,900 for teachers with 1 year or less of experience to $72,700 for teachers with 25 to 29 years of experience. (NCES).
Average weekly hours for all teachers
How much time does a teacher spend working each week?
115.92.8% of all teachers are regular full-time teachers. (Institute of Education Sciences).
116.Teachers are contractually required to work an average of 38.5 hours per week.
117.Of these hours, 25.2 are dedicated to delivering instructions to students.
118.The total number of hours spent on all teaching and other school-related activities amounts to 52.
Average weekly hours for public school teachers
119.94% of public school teachers are regular full-time teachers.
120.On average, a public school teacher is required by contract to work 38.4 hours a week.
121. A public school teacher spends an average of 25.2 hours each week delivering instruction to students.
122. The total number of hours a public school teacher spends on all teaching and other school-related activities is 52.
Average weekly hours for private school teachers
123. 83% of private school teachers are regular full-time teachers.
124. Private school teachers are required by contract to work 39.3 hours.
125. A private school teacher spends an average of 24 hours each week delivering instruction to students.
126. The total hours spent by an average private school teacher on teaching and other school-related activities each week is 51.8.
Impact of teachers
127. The average teacher affects over 3,000 students during their career. (Gallup)
128. 88% of Americans say they had a teacher who had a “significant, positive impact” on their life.
129. From 1977 to 2009, the percentage of people who consider the teaching profession to be “prestigious” has gone up from 29% to 51%. (Gallup)
Teacher shortages and other challenges faced by teachers in the US
130. 45% of U.S. public schools had at least one teacher vacancy in 2022. (NCES).
131. For in-demand subject areas like mathematics, nearly 14% of suburban schools report difficulty filling vacancies. (Bellweather Education Partners)
121. More than 20% of schools in urban and rural areas and in towns report difficulty filling vacancies for crucial subject areas.
122. Schools report much more difficulty filling mathematics, science, computer science, and special education teacher vacancies than social studies and general elementary vacancies.
123. 17% of public schools reported difficulty in filling vacancies for special education.
124. 19% face challenges filling vacancies for biology and life sciences and 15% of public schools reported difficulty in filling vacancies for computer science.
125. Only 4% of public schools reported difficulty in filling vacancies for social studies.
Effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the teaching profession
126. According to a survey by the National Education Association, 91% of teachers say that pandemic-related stress is a serious problem for educators.
127. 86% of members say they have seen more educators leaving the profession or retiring early since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
128. 55% of educators are thinking about leaving the profession earlier than they had planned. (National Education Association.
How much autonomy does a teacher have over their profession?
129. According to the Institute of Education Sciences, 81-85% of public and 84-96% of private K-12 teachers believed they had influence in curriculum development, performance standards, and professional development program content.
130. 71% of public and 82% of private school teachers believed they had a say in discipline policy.
131. Almost all public K-12 teachers (96-98%) and private K-12 teachers (98-99%) reported some level of control in selecting teaching techniques, evaluating and grading students, assigning homework, and disciplining students.
132. The majority of public school teachers (84-86%) and almost all private school teachers (95-96%) reported having some control over selecting the content, topics, and skills to be taught, and choosing textbooks and instructional materials.
Future outlook on the teaching profession
133. Employment of high school teachers is projected to show little or no change from 2022 to 2032. (US Bureau of Labor and Statistics).
134. Despite limited employment growth, about 67,100 openings for high school teachers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.
135. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire. (US Bureau of Labor and Statistics).
136. Fewer people are choosing to enter the teaching profession. In the US, the number of bachelor’s degrees in education has declared over the last few decades, from 176,307 in the 1970s to 85,057 in 2020.
Frequently asked questions
There are 3.5 million teachers teach in public schools and about 466,000 teach in private schools.
Many teachers in the US are employed by state-run public schools. Additionally, there are teachers in private schools, including private K-12 schools, who may not be employed directly by the state.
There are 3.5 million public school teachers in the US in 2021-22.
A Title 1 teacher is a teacher who works in a school with a high percentage of low-income students. Title 1 is a federal program that provides funding to schools to help them improve the academic achievement of disadvantaged students.
Learn more about other college statistics:
- International students in the US
- College dropout rates
- Average high school GPA
- Average Private School Tuition
- Average cost of a Master's degree
- College graduation rates
Bellweather Education Partners. “Nuance in the Noise.” [PDF]
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. “High School Teachers: Occupational Outlook Handbook.”
National Center for Education Statistics. “Condition of Education – Characteristics of Public School Teachers.”
National Center for Education Statistics. “Fast Facts: Teacher Characteristics and Trends (28).”
National Education Association. “Survey: Alarming Number of Educators May Soon Leave the Profession | NEA”
Institute of Education Sciences. “Characteristics of 2020–21 Public and Private K–12 School Teachers in the United States.” [PDF]
We Are Teachers. “How Many Teachers Are in the U.S.?”
Department of Numbers. “US Employment and Jobs.”
National Center for Education Statistics. “Forty-Five Percent of Public Schools Operating Without a Full Teaching Staff in October, New NCES Data Show.” Press Release, December 6, 2022.Pew Research Center. “A Dwindling Number of New US College Graduates Have a Degree in Education.”
Gail holds a degree in International Development and has a strong background in research and writing. Her work focuses on exploring topics related to development, including education.