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STUDY: Virginia, Loudoun County get an ‘A’ in teaching

Virginia is one of the best states for educators to teach. A recent WalletHub study ranked Virginia second for the best teaching opportunities in the United States, behind Massachusetts. In “job opportunity and competition” the state ranked second and for “academic and work environment” it came in 14th.

Many teachers don’t pursue a career in the classroom for the money. They do it out of passion for kids and education in hopes of molding future leaders. Unfortunately, teachers across the U.S. are shortchanged every year. Their salaries consistently fail to keep up with inflation and their value is under-appreciated as they are required to produce better students each year. In Virginia, however, that isn’t the case compared to the rest of the country.

The average starting salary for a teacher in Virginia is $39,019, which is the seventh highest in the country. That salary, which is adjusted for cost-of-living, coupled with the third best income growth potential for teachers put the commonwealth at the top of the list. In Loudoun County the starting teacher salary is $47,975 with a bachelor’s degree and $53,688 with a master’s degree. Teacher benefits, including high salaries, pensions and health benefits, set Loudoun and Virginia apart.

“Starting off that makes a huge difference and knowing you have the potential to grow that, get tenure, and be set with a pension,” said WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez. “That’s something that teachers across the county can’t be sure of, but in Virginia they can.”

With competitive salaries, the 11th best school system in the country that includes a great pupil-teacher ratio at 14 to 1, Virginia is also attracting the highest quality teachers.

“Students are given more attention and do better on their test scores and that is what every teacher is held to now,” Gonzalez said. “In Virginia it’s much more manageable, which takes pressure off the teacher and gets them better test scores, which means more job security and financial security.”

As teachers decide where to start their profession it’s important to know where the best teaching opportunities are so they can make informed decisions.

“It’s good to know what states are really doing well, especially for teachers who are looking to make a move or are still in grad school,” Gonzalez said. “Knowing where to look and where there is more opportunity or more competition is important for any job, but especially teachers right now.”

It’s also important for families to understand the educational environment of where they live. Parents want their kids to be in the best school system taught by the best teachers, which requires investment.

“Being able to invest more in teachers and provide them with competitive salaries is going to bring top talent to your state, which then is going to drive up your test scores,” Gonzalez said.

Loudoun County Public Schools budget is more than $980 million, spending an average of $12,700 per student. The state average for public school spending per student is just under $11,000.

There were a few areas where Virginia ranked below average, including safest schools, commute time, median annual salary and 10- year change in salary. The safest schools metric is measured by the percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury by a student from school in the past year. Virginia ranked 27th with 10 percent of teachers reported those types of incidents. The state was at the bottom of the list for average commute time. Most teachers drive about 30 minutes to and from work each day, which put Virginia 45th in the rankings.

To determine Virginia's rankings, WalletHub compared 50 states and D.C. across 13 key metrics.


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