The 15 worst US states to be a teacher

Arizona ranks as the worst state to be a teacher.

caption
Arizona ranks as the worst state to be a teacher.
source
Getty Images

Being a teacher can look vastly different depending on which state you work in.

Personal finance site WalletHub detailed the list of the worst states to teach in. WalletHub ranked the areas depending on how they scored in two categories:

  1. “Opportunity and competition,” which includes how competitive salaries were, teacher pensions, and income growth.
  2. “Academic and work environment,” which includes the quality of the school system, how many students per teacher, and the rate of turnover.

Read more: The 15 best US states to be a public school teacher

Many of the states on the list – including Arizona, Colorado, and West Virginia – held teacher strikes a year ago to call for higher salaries.

While WalletHub included the District of Columbia on their ranking, Business Insider omitted the territory from the report below because DC is not a state. WalletHub ranked DC as the ninth worst area to teach in.

Here are the 15 worst states to be a teacher:


15. Michigan: Teachers there are quitting so often that the governor has called it a “crisis.”

source
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Academic and work environment rank: 39

Opportunity and competition rank: 27

Source: Chalkbeat


14. Nevada: Teachers held a protest earlier this year calling for better education funding.

Academic and work environment rank: 38

Opportunity and competition rank: 36

Source: Associated Press


13. Alabama: The state currently has a shortage of teachers, particularly in rural areas.

source
RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images

Academic and work environment rank: 41

Opportunity and competition rank: 28

Source: Alabama Live


12. Missouri: Teachers get paid less on average than those in eight neighboring states.

source
Getty Images

Academic and work environment rank: 31

Opportunity and competition rank: 40

Source: KY3


11. Colorado: Educators in the state led the nationwide teacher strike in 2018 alongside West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona.

Academic and work environment rank: 8

Opportunity and competition rank: 47

Source: Denver Post


10. Tennessee: One-third of teachers in the state would leave the profession for something with higher pay, a 2019 survey found.

source
Getty Images

Academic and work environment rank: 29

Opportunity and competition rank: 43

Source: Chalkbeat


9. Maine: The state with the lowest annual average starting salary for teachers (adjusted for cost of living) at $30,462.

source
Brianna Soukup/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Academic and work environment rank: 11

Opportunity and competition rank: 48

Source: WalletHub


8. South Carolina: Teachers held a protest earlier this year for higher salaries.

source
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Academic and work environment rank: 49

Opportunity and competition rank: 38

Source: CNN


7. Oklahoma: 30,000 teachers there have left the profession in the past six years.

source
Scott Heins/Getty Images

Academic and work environment rank: 50

Opportunity and competition rank: 37

Source: Washington Post


6. New Mexico: The report said it had the worst school systems in the country.

source
Hill Street Studios/Getty Images

Academic and work environment rank: 42

Opportunity and competition rank: 44

Source: WalletHub


5. West Virginia: Its ranking of teacher pay plummeted from 30th in the nation to 48th within the years 1990 to 2015.

source
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Academic and work environment rank: 37

Opportunity and competition rank: 45

Source: Politifact


4. Louisiana: It has the second worst school systems in the country, according to WalletHub.

source
Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

Academic and work environment rank: 46

Opportunity and competition rank: 46

Source: WalletHub


3. Hawaii: The state with the lowest average annual salary (adjusted for cost of living) at $43,738.

source
Phil Mislinski/Getty Images

Academic and work environment rank: 40

Opportunity and competition rank: 49

Source: WalletHub


2. New Hampshire: The state has among the lowest annual salaries for teachers in the country.

source
Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

Academic and work environment rank: 13

Opportunity and competition rank: 51

Source: WalletHub


1. Arizona: It has the highest pupil-to-teacher ratio in the country at about 23 students per teacher.

source
Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Academic and work environment rank: 51

Opportunity and competition rank: 50

Source: WalletHub