ESL Teacher Salaries

According to the U.S. Department of Education, there were 4.7 million students classified as English Language Learners (ELLs) during the 2009-10 school year. ELLs are generally defined as those that have not yet achieved proficiency in English.

The need for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers has become dire in certain areas of the country, such as Texas and Florida, where, according to the most recent census, immigrant populations are growing faster than ever before. As such, school districts across the country are now scrambling to adapt classrooms to this changing demographic, which is largely accomplished through the work of competent teachers who can help integrate and transition ELLs.

This demand for ESL teachers in certain parts of the United States affects the salaries these educators earn, as does their level of education and experience.

ESL Teacher Salary: Demographic Region

A 2014 Huffington Post article reported that, during the 2010-2011 school year, 10 percent of all public school students in the United States were English Language Learners (ELLs). This rate is significantly higher in many states, such as California, where 29 percent of all students were learning English as a second language.

A National Center for Education Statistics 2014 publication entitled, The Condition of Education, found that the need for ESL teachers is in particularly high demand among states in the West. For example, the following states reported, during the 2011-12 school year, that more than 10 percent of their students were ELLs:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Alaska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Texas

Fourteen states, including the District of Columbia, had enrollment statistics for ELLs during the same period between 6 and 9.9 percent:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • North Carolina
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • Washington

The state with the highest increase of ELLs between 2002 and 2012 was Hawaii, which increased 6 percentage points.

ESL teachers are likely to find better employment options—and therefore higher salary opportunities—in cities than in suburban areas.

In 2011-12, The National Center for Education Statistics found that the number of ELLs in small cities averaged about 10.9 percent, while ELLs in large cities averaged around 16.7 percent. In contrast, ELL students averaged about 9 percent of public school enrollment in suburban areas, and ELL students averaged about 6.2 percent of public school enrollment in towns, 5.7 percent in fringe areas, and 3.9 percent in rural areas.

A 2012 USC Rossier School of Education article found that the big cities with large immigrant populations, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, are likely to have better employment opportunities for ESL teachers. However, they also reported that a number of smaller cities also have lucrative prospects for ESL teachers, as well, including:

  • Nassau-Suffolk, New York: The average salary for an ESL teacher in the Nassau-Suffolk area, as of 2012, was $82,240, with the top 10 percent earning as much as $119,940.
  • Lawrence-Methuen-Salem, Massachusetts: The average salary for ESLs in this region of Massachusetts topped $77,540 in 2012.
  • Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, California: ESL teachers had average salaries that topped $105,850 in 2012.
  • Modesto, California: ESL teachers in California, as of 2012, earned an average salary of $73,210, with top salaries coming in at $92,410.
  • Naperville, Illinois: ESL educators in Naperville earned salaries as high as $113,870, as of 2012.

ESL Teacher Salary: Education and Experience Considerations

Similar to other teachers, ESL teachers can expect to earn a higher salary as their experience and education increase. Although an ESL teacher salary depends on the school district’s pay schedule and their current hiring needs, average salaries for ESL teachers are often indicative of degree and experience earned.

For example, teachers in the Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) School District, at the entry level, earn a minimum salary of $45,360 if they possess a bachelor’s degree; $46,694 if they possess a master’s degree; and $49,615 if they possess a master’s degree plus at least 30 additional credits or a doctorate degree.

Likewise, teachers in the Fairfax County (Virginia) School District who possess a bachelor’s degree and one year of experience earn a minimum salary of $46,516; teachers with five years of experience earn a minimum salary of $49,022; and teachers with ten years of experience earn a minimum salary of $54,215.

ESL Teacher Salaries by State

Area name
Employment
Annual Median Salary
Alabama
820
42780
Alaska
120
40560
Arizona
400
47130
Arkansas
760
45130
California
12990
71210
Colorado
970
37610
Connecticut
890
65330
Delaware
300
64710
District of Columbia
350
53350
Florida
2240
45040
Georgia
900
36290
Hawaii
420
44290
Idaho
530
32240
Illinois
900
42590
Indiana
520
42470
Iowa
270
38210
Kansas
520
31190
Kentucky
990
39790
Louisiana
460
42480
Maine
90
33700
Maryland
730
51340
Massachusetts
1880
53580
Michigan
1210
48120
Minnesota
1550
48200
Mississippi
760
29790
Missouri
370
52770
Montana
200
50650
Nebraska
510
40300
Nevada
290
42380
New Hampshire
160
50490
New Jersey
1040
64290
New Mexico
340
33210
New York
6900
58290
North Carolina
4230
43030
North Dakota
70
44860
Ohio
1850
47070
Oklahoma
920
46420
Oregon
600
51110
Pennsylvania
1640
44150
Puerto Rico
170
27810
Rhode Island
210
45030
South Carolina
630
46750
South Dakota
270
32490
Tennessee
940
42880
Texas
5790
47440
Utah
210
41070
Vermont
140
47010
Virgin Islands
70
47510
Virginia
2780
54890
Washington
6620
55290
West Virginia
80
35200
Wisconsin
1380
57530
Wyoming
120
46330

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