The Characteristics of Public School Teachers in the U.S.

Public school teachers had an average of about 14 years experience in 2015-16, and nearly half (47 percent) had earned a master’s degree, according to a new report.

The National Center for Education Statistics released Characteristics of Public Elementary and Secondary School Teachers in the United States: Results From the 2015–16 National Teacher and Principal Survey. The National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) is a nationally representative sample survey of public K–12 schools, principals, and teachers in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Key findings in the report include:In the 2015–16 school year, there were an estimated 3,827,100 teachers in public elementary and secondary schools in the United States. About 3,608,600 taught in traditional public schools and about 218,500 taught in charter schools. About 80 percent of all public school teachers were non-Hispanic White, 9 percent were Hispanic, 7 percent were non-Hispanic Black, and 2 percent were non-Hispanic Asian.

Regular full-time teachers in public schools spent, on average, about 53 hours per week on all school-related activities, including 27 hours that they were paid to deliver instruction to students during a typical full week. Public school teachers were required to work an average of 38 hours per week to receive their base pay.

In 2015–16, the average base salary of regular full-time teachers in public schools was $55,100.

The largest percentage of public school teachers listed a master’s degree as their highest degree earned (47 percent), followed by a bachelor’s degree (41 percent). Relatively more teachers in traditional public schools listed a master’s degree as their highest degree (48 percent) than those in public charter schools (38 percent).

Ninety-eight percent of teachers report that they have control over how they evaluate and grade students, what teaching techniques they use, and how much homework they give. About 85 percent of teachers said they had control over selecting the content, topics, and skills they taught. Eighty-four percent said they had some control over choosing textbooks and other instructional materials.

To view the full report, please visit