Where in the world teachers make the most money, and the least

Cushy salaries for some; meager paychecks for others.
Cushy salaries for some; meager paychecks for others.
Image: Flickr/US Department of Education, CC BY 2.0
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Teaching often involves long hours and grueling effort for little financial return, making the take-home pay of educators the subject of recurring political debates and protests around the world.

But the value placed on teacher’s time varies widely globally, the latest figures from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which tracks international education trends, show.

OECD’s data reveal that the paychecks of lower secondary (in the US, middle school) teachers in 2013 ranged from a paltry starting salary of $10,647 in Hungary to a comfy $138,920 for accomplished teachers in Luxembourg. Take a look at the data set below. (All salaries have been adjusted for cost of living using the Purchasing Power Index and converted to US dollars.)

On average, the OECD says, lower secondary teachers around the world get a starting salary of $31,013, which slowly inches up to $57,201 when they reach the peak of their qualifications and careers. But there are wide swings on either side of the average; teachers in the Slovak Republic and Estonia make roughly 7% of what those in Luxembourg do, for example. And in the US, where concerns are often raised about underpaid educators, teacher salaries are actually relatively high in comparison to those in other Western countries like France and England (although not compared to their peers in the private sector).

American teachers are also among the hardest-working in the world, according to a recent analysis by teacher resource site based on OECD data. Among all the countries tracked, Colombian teachers spend the most time teaching—but are among the most poorly compensated.

Chalk’s data points to Luxembourg as not only having the highest annual salary for teachers, but also providing the highest payment for hours worked. If you’re one of the millions of teachers appalled by the numbers on your paycheck every month, you might want to seriously consider a relocation.

Image by US Department of Education on Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0.