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Indicator I-11 Humanities Teachers’ Earnings
NOTE TO READERS: Please include the following reference when citing data from this page: "American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Humanities Indicators,".
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Updated (1/13/2011).

Primary- and secondary-school teacher salaries in the humanities are one indicator of the value placed on humanities education (for faculty salaries at the postsecondary level, see Indicator III-14, Faculty Earnings). Because precollegiate teaching salaries are closely tied to seniority, earnings data from the SASS are presented here by the career stage of respondents. The earnings of new teachers are compared with those of both midcareer teachers and educators with three decades or more of classroom experience.

For the 2007–2008 academic year, the median earnings of precollegiate humanities teachers (base salary, as well as payment for extracurricular activities and other services to their school system) were approximately $48,000 (Figure I-11; in 2007, the national median earnings of year-round full-time workers age 25 and over were $42,196).)1 For those who were new to teaching (0–5 years of service), the median was closer to $40,000. Among the most seasoned teachers, those with 30 or more years of service, median earnings were just under $60,000.

The range of earnings was greater for more experienced teachers. The difference between the 25th percentile and 75th percentile earnings of middle- and late-career teachers was approximately twice as large as that for new personnel. A preliminary analysis by Humanities Indicators staff suggests that this difference is attributable to the fact that more experienced teachers are likelier than new teachers to hold master’s and other advanced degrees.

Figure I-11, Full Size
Supporting Data Supporting Data


1 Figure I-11 displays, for earnings at each career stage, a set of statistics referred to as the interquartile range, which describes the range of “typical” or “usual” characteristics exhibited by a population of persons or objects.

Quartiles are statistics that divide the observations of a numeric sample into four groups, each of which contains 25% of the data. The lower, middle, and upper quartiles are computed by ordering the values for a particular variable (in this case teacher earnings) from smallest to largest and then finding the values below which fall 25%, 50%, and 75% of the data. The lower and upper quartiles are the endpoints of the interquartile range. The middle quartile is also known as the median.

The table from which the median income estimate for all full-time, year-round workers was drawn was prepared by NCES personnel in September 2009 using data from the Current Population Survey (U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau). The table is available for viewing and downloading at

According to the Census Bureau, the collector of the income data from which this estimate is derived, “A full-time, year-round worker is a person who worked 35 or more hours per week (full-time) and 50 or more weeks during the previous calendar year (year-round). For school personnel, summer vacation is counted as weeks worked if they are scheduled to return to their job in the fall.” (Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette D. Proctor, and Jessica C. Smith, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008, Current Population Reports, P60-236 [Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2009],

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