Teacher Salary Worldwide [And Other Mind-Blowing Stats]

International organizations have recently shown a great interest in matters related to teachers, teacher education, teacher salary, and teacher policy. There are two main reasons for this increased interest in the teaching profession around the world:

First, there are severe teacher shortages because teachers are leaving the teaching profession in large numbers. At the same time, young people show little to no interest in filling these vacancies.

Second, teacher quality has risen to the top of the list for educational policy changes. An emphasis on more complex knowledge and skills is demanding enhanced teacher quality in many countries.

Teacher salary - man's hand drawing charts on notebook with calculator.
Teacher salary worldwide and other interesting stats.

One of the most prominent institutions, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is publishing annual research facts and figures about the teaching profession around the world. Would you like to find out how your situation compares with other teachers around the globe? Keep reading.  

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

The mission of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. The OECD sets international standards on a wide range of things, from agriculture and tax to the safety of chemicals.

It also looks at issues that directly affect everyone’s daily life, like how much people pay in taxes and social security, and how much leisure time they can take. It compares how different countries’ school systems are readying their young people for modern life, and how different countries’ pension systems will look after their citizens in old age.

Here are their research findings on the teaching profession around the world:


Teacher Salary

Teacher salary is the average gross salary of educational personnel according to official pay scales, before the deduction of taxes, including the employee’s contributions for retirement or health care plans, and other contributions or premiums for social insurance or other purposes, but less the employer’s contribution to social security and pension. Salaries are shown in USD covering early childhood education teachers, primary and secondary teachers at the beginning of their career, after 15 years, and at the top of the scale. Trends in teacher salary are shown as an index with base year 2005.

Some interesting findings:

  • Naturally, countries with a higher GDP (e.g. Germany) pay teachers more than poorer countries (e.g. Hungary). As an exception, teachers in Ireland are very well compensated.
  • Iceland is the only country where Primary teachers are better paid than Upper Secondary teachers.
  • Upper Secondary teachers in Mexico are paid twice as much as Primary teachers.

Students per Teaching Staff

The ratio of students per teaching staff is the total number of full-time equivalent students enrolled at a specific level of education divided by the total number of full-time equivalent teachers at the same level. Teachers refer to professional personnel directly involved in teaching students: classroom teachers, special education teachers and other teachers who work with students as a whole class in a classroom, in small groups in a resource room, or in one-to-one teaching inside or outside a regular classroom. This does not include teachers’ aides and other paraprofessional personnel.

If you are a KG teacher in Iceland or New Zealand, you will probably have no more than five students in your class. On the other hand, if you are a Secondary teacher in India, get ready for a staggering 35-student class!

Women Teachers

Women teachers are women whose professional activity is student instruction, involving the delivery of lessons to students.

As one would expect, in early childhood education more than 90% of the teachers are women. In higher education however, men outnumber women by two or three times. In Japan only 26.8% of university teachers are women, as opposed to Russia where women are 58.6% of the tertiary teachers. The US has a healthy 50-50 balance.

Teachers by Age

A teacher is a person whose professional activity involves the planning, organising and conducting of group activities to develop students’ knowledge, skills and attitudes as stipulated by educational programmes. Teachers may work with students as a whole class, in small groups or one-to-one, inside or outside regular classrooms. In this indicator, teachers are compared by their average age and work experience measured in years. Teachers do not include non-professional personnel who support teachers in providing instruction to students, such as teachers’ aides and other paraprofessional personnel.

Turkey has a very young teacher population: one in four Secondary teachers is under the age of 30, and very few are over 50.

In Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia you can find the most Secondary teachers over the age of 50.

Teaching Hours

This indicator presents preparation time and statutory teaching time. Teaching time is the number of hours spent teaching a group or class of students according to the formal policy in the country; preparation time is the time spent preparing for teaching. For pre-primary, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary schools, teaching time is presented in hours per year. For lower secondary schools, both teaching time and preparation time are shown in hours per week.

It seems that the hardest-working teachers are in Latin America; teachers in Mexico, Chile, Colombia, and Costa Rica work somewhere between 1000 and 1267 hours per year! On the other hand, teachers in North-Eastern Europe have an easier time: in Poland, Russia, Estonia, Finland, and Lithuania they work around 600 hours per year, half as much as their Latin American counterparts!

If we could choose (and all other things being equal), we would probably pick Korea, which ranks very high consistently in all charts. What about you?

All data has been found on The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) platform.

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Savas Savides
Education born and bred. I have worked as a teacher for many private language schools, as a test centre administrator, as a teacher trainer, as an educational consultant, and as a publisher. I am an advocate for literacy and a huge proponent of using technology in the classroom. I have a BA in English and an MBA in Marketing. I mostly write about English Language Teaching. I live in sunny Athens.


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