teacher with students
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Being a teacher can be extremely rewarding. Teachers mold young minds and play a critical role in the development of students.

But that doesn’t mean the job is easy. Often, teachers find themselves underpaid and overworked. According to PayScale’s 2017-18 College Salary Report, Early Childhood Education is one of the lowest-paid majors requiring a bachelor’s degree, offering a salary of $32,100 for early career pay. Toss in the government mandates on what teachers can and can't do and you have a recipe for a stress-filled and pressured occupation.

Jon N. Hale, an associate professor of Educational History at the College of Charleston, says salary and lack of autonomy are big reasons why teachers leave their jobs.

"Local officials can attract and retain the best teachers by providing a much higher salary that is currently offered," he said to WalletHub. "They can provide more autonomy to educators by allowing them to make their own decisions on how best to meet the needs of students."

But those needs and that stress can vary from state to state. And while some states are more accommodating for teachers, others are not. WalletHub recently did a study to discover the best and worst states for teachers by comparing every state across two specific dimensions: "Opportunity & Competition" and "Academic & Work Environment."

Best States For Teachers

  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Illinois
  • Connecticut
  • Pennsylvania
  • Minnesota
  • Massachusetts
  • Wyoming
  • Ohio
  • Oregon

Worst States For Teachers

  • Arizona
  • Hawaii
  • South Carolina
  • Mississippi
  • Florida
  • Louisana
  • North Carolina
  • New Mexico
  • Montana
  • Oklahoma

So what makes a state good or bad for teachers? In some states, teachers were paid more fairly, which allowed them to continue teaching. For other states, teaching is a revolving door. The National Center for Education Statistics released a study that showed nearly one-fifth of new public school teachers leave before their first year. Within five years, half have left.

WalletHub also discovered that when it comes to the turnover rate, the following five states had the highest:

  • Texas
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • Arizona
  • District of Columbia

While these states had the lowest:

  • South Dakota
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Wyoming
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio

So why do some states have such a high turnover rate while others have much lower ones? M. Evelyn Fields, professor of Early Childhood Education at South Carolina State University, said keeping teachers has less to do with money and more to do with autonomy.

"Teachers are attracted to a supportive working environment and one that will allow them to be creative," Fields told WalletHub. "Salary increments can also be an incentive. Retaining teachers often does not have to do with money. It has to do with autonomy and appreciation. Professional development is also a plus."

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