Teacher Salaries

State Minimum Teacher Salaries

Minimum salaries for teachers in South Carolina are set by the state and based upon education level (bachelor’s, master’s, etc.) and number of years of teaching experience.   Annual salaries increase for each additional year of teaching experience (step increases) up to a certain number of years and for attainment of additional education levels.

The South Carolina minimum teacher salary schedule for 2023-24  goes up to 23 years of teaching experience.  Salaries for each step increased by $2,500 from the previous year.   This resulted in a minimum salary of $42,500 for first-year teachers with a bachelor’s degree.  This first-year salary ranks 2nd out of 7 southeast states with a minimum salary schedule.  See the table below for South Carolina’s ranking for other years of experience and degree level.

To compare  South Carolina state minimum salaries with each of the other six states, go to the “Teacher Salaries” dashboard on this website.

State Average Teacher Salaries

On this same dashboard, find state average salaries for 12 southeast states.  In this 2022-23 comparison, South Carolina ranked 5th out of the 12 states and was just above the combined average of the other 11 states.  The National Education Association provides a  50-state comparison.   In 2021-22, South Carolina’s average teacher salary ranked 37th in the nation.

Salaries Adjusted for Inflation

Nationally, the average teacher pay has failed to keep up with inflation over the past decade. Adjusted for inflation, teachers in 2021-22 made $3,644 less than they did a decade earlier.1

The Teacher Salaries dashboard on this website, shows that the South Carolina inflation-adjusted average teacher salary in 2022-23 was $3,925 (6%) lower than it was a decade earlier.

This same dashboard also shows how state minimum salaries in South Carolina have changed when adjusted for inflation. The adjusted, first-year-teaching, minimum salary in 2023-24 was basically the same ($300 higher) as it was five years before. The same is true for a teacher with a master’s degree and ten years of experience where the adjusted minimum was$120 less than five years earlier.  

At higher levels of experience, the adjusted state minimums have fallen. At 15 and 20 years of experience with a Master’s, the inflation-adjusted salary was around a $1,000 lower than five years earlier.

Teacher Take-Home Pay

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) “Teacher Compensation Dashboard” provides “average annual take-home pay” (net pay) for teachers in southern states.

Of the twelve southeast states shown in the “Average Salaries” tab of “Teacher Salaries” dashboard, South Carolina’s average take-home pay for first-year teachers ranked 9th and was $1,700 below the average of the eleven other states in 2022.   For those in their 15th year of teaching, the state ranked 5th and was $400 above the average. 

SREB’s take-home pay calculations are based on what a “typical” teacher brings home in their paycheck after deducting their required retirement contribution, their health insurance premium costs, and taxes.2

Teacher Compensation Relative to Other Professionals

The pay penalty for teachers—the gap between the weekly wages of teachers and college graduates working in other professions—grew to a record 26% in 2022, a significant increase from 6% in 1996.

This correlates to the average teacher earning 73.6 cents for every dollar that other professionals made in 2022. This is much less than the 93.9 cents on the dollar they made in 1996.

Although teachers tend to receive better benefits packages than other professionals do, this advantage is not large enough to offset the growing wage penalty for teachers.

When benefits are included, the total compensation penalty for teachers, nationally, grew to 17% in 2022 from 14% in 2021. Large increases in the teacher wage penalty have not been offset by smaller increases in the teacher benefits advantage.  In 2022 the 26% wage penalty was offset by a 9% benefits advantage resulting in a total compensation penalty of 17%

In South Carolina, the weekly teacher wage penalty was 9% in 2022—3rd lowest in the country.3

Teacher Salaries in South Carolina School Districts

Table 1 below shows the great disparities in teacher salaries among school districts in South Carolina.  Some only pay the state minimum while others pay thousands of dollars more. 

For first-year teachers, 10 of the 73 school districts in  in the state paid the state minimum in 2023-24  The district with the highest first-year salary paid $6,000 more.  The difference grows at later years of teaching experience.  For a teacher with 20 years of experience and a master’s degree, five school districts paid the state minimum and the difference with the highest district salary was $15,000.

A comparison of school district average salaries in the state shows a difference of $14,600 between the highest and lowest district average salary in 2022-23.4

The cost of living can affect school district teacher salaries.  Charleston is the prime example of a place with a high cost of living.  It costs around 20% less to live in Columbia or Greenville.5 

Average salaries in South Carolina school districts are also impacted by the number of steps in a district’s teacher pay schedule.  Each step provides a higher salary for an additional year of teaching experience (and for attaining a higher degree).  Pay increases do not exist for teachers with experience beyond the highest step.

The state minimum teacher salary schedule has 23 steps (covering the first  22 years of teaching experience).   Of the 73 school districts in the state, 7 only provide these 23 steps.  Just over 60% of the districts provide 30 steps, three to 35 steps and two to 40.6

Teacher Salaries for Comparable Out-of-State School Districts in the South

Table 2 compares teacher salaries in Greenville County Schools against out-of-state metropolitan school districts in the South with a cost of living at or below that of Greenville. (See Appendix for sources)

Teacher Pay Supplements in South Carolina

Teacher Retention Supplement. In the 2023-24 state budget, $132 million was appropriated for the “Teacher Retention Supplement” for school districts to provide “retention supplements to teachers in an amount not to exceed $2,500 for a full-time teacher and proportionately for part-time teachers.”7

National Board Certification Supplement.  As of 2023, South Carolina was one of twenty-eight states in the nation providing a teacher salary supplement for National Board Certification.8   Our state’s  annual salary supplement for National Board Certified teachers is set in every fiscal year’s  state budget.  For 2023-24, those who initially applied to  the program prior to July 1, 2010 and who hold a ten-year certificate receive an annual salary supplement from the state of $7,500.  All other teachers with a five-year or ten-year certificate receive an annual  supplement of $5,000.9  In some states, the amount of the supplement depends on whether the teacher is at a high-need school, and in others the annual supplement is limited to a set number of years.10

Teacher Mentor Stipends.  Stipends for teacher mentors of first-year teachers varies widely in South Carolina and across the country.  

In a South Carolina fall 2021 survey, 21 school districts provided the amount of their annual stipend for teacher mentors.   These ranged from $200 to $1,500.11  (The stipend in Greenville County Schools for 2023-24 is  $1,000.)  

The Rural Teacher Recruiting Incentive (see below) in the South Carolina state budget calls for “Support for the establishment and maintenance of a teaching mentorship program, including salary supplements for teaching mentors not to exceed $2,500 per year.”12   In the 2022-23 school year 40 school districts were eligible.13  

Examples of mentor stipends in school districts outside of South Carolina in 2021-22:  the school district in Little Rock, Arkansas, paid $1,200;  in Wake County, North Carolina the stipend was $50;  the state of Delaware set their stipend at $750 for mentoring one educator and lead mentors received $1,500.

Paid Parental Leave

South Carolina is one of a few states in the Southeast that mandate paid parental leave for teachers and other school district staff.   Initiated with the 2023-24 school year, six weeks of paid leave  are to be provided for district  employees who give birth or become parents by adopting a child under 18. The spouse who doesn’t give birth or — in the case of adoption, the parent who’s not the primary care provider — can take two weeks off with pay. Parents who foster a child in state custody can also take two weeks of paid leave.14  No state funding is provided for this.  District’s must cover the cost of substitutes and any other associated costs. 

Other Southeast states that provide paid parental leave are North Carolina with eight weeks of paid leave and Georgia with three weeks.  Nationally, less than 20% of school districts provided paid parental leave.15  

Loan Forgiveness Programs in South Carolina

For teachers with a South Carolina Teachers Loan, Career Changers Loan or PACE Program Loan, South Carolina Student Loan provides loan forgiveness for teaching in a critical subject or critical geographic area. A loan is forgiven at the rate of 20% or $3,000, whichever is greater, for each full year of teaching in a South Carolina public school in either a critical subject or critical geographic area. For those teaching in both, their loan is forgiven at the rate of 33 1/3% or $5,000, whichever is greater, for each year of full-time teaching.16

Additionally, the Rural Teacher Recruiting Incentive is offered to school districts with an average teacher turnover rate above 11% for the last five years and which are not among the fifteen wealthiest schools districts in the state.  In 2022-23 school year, 40 school districts were eligible.  With state funding and administered by the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention & Advancement, this program provides various financial incentives for teaching in an eligible school district.17

This includes the Rural District Undergraduate Loan Forgiveness Program.  Classroom teachers in eligible  districts in the state (40 districts in 2022-23) may apply for up to $5,000 per year, for up to 7 years, in loan forgiveness for the balance on any undergraduate loan for which no other loan forgiveness options apply.18 The program is intended to encourage classroom teachers to seek and maintain employment in those rural districts.

Teacher Salaries for Those Receiving Retirement Benefits

Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, South Carolina has changed state law on the maximum, annual amount retired teachers can earn upon returning to the classroom.

Under a legislative joint resolution signed into law in April 2021, retired teachers in South Carolina who return to teaching may now earn up to $50,000 annually and maintain their full retirement benefits.   This is a significant increase from the previous state cap of $10,000. 

Under the 2021 law, this higher level of earnings is limited to thirty-six consecutive months of employment.

In all cases under state law, there is no earnings limit while retaining full retirement benefits for retirees teaching a critical need subject and/or at a critical need school as set by the State Board of Education.19



1”Educator Pay Data,” National Education Association.
2“Teacher Compensation Dashboard,” Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).
3Allegretto, S., (2023) “Teacher pay penalty still looms large: Trends in teacher wages and compensation through 2022,” Economic Policy Institute.
4”2022-23 Average Teacher Salary by District,” Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA-South Carolina).
5”Cost of Living Calculator,” Best Places.
6South Carolina Dept. of Education.
7Section1A.63, Part 1B Provisos, South Carolina General Appropriations Bill of 2023.
8”State Incentives Chart,” National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
9 Section1A.64, Part 1B Provisos, South Carolina General Appropriations Bill of 2023.
11Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention & Advancement (CERRA-South Carolina).
12Section1A.64, Part 1B Provisos.
13CERRA-South Carolina.
14Adcox, S., (2023) “SC teachers qualify for 6 weeks paid leave starting June 26 under new law.” The Post and Courier.
15Wilder, A., (2023) “SC teachers now get paid parental leave. How does it compare to other southeast states?” The State.
 16 SC Teacher Loan Programs & Forgiveness, South Carolina Student Loan.
17”Rural Teacher Recruiting Incentive,” CERRA-South Carolina.
18Section 1A.45, Part 1B Provisos, South Carolina General Appropriations Bill of 2023.
19South Carolina Code of Laws, Sections 9-1-1790 and 9-1-1795.


Sources – Salaries for Out-of-State Metro Districts in the South

Athens, GA (Clarke County School District): “Certified Teacher Salary Schedule” (online: https://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/Page/764).
Chattanooga, TN (Hamilton County Dept. of Education): “Certified Employees” (online: https://www.hcde.org/staff/human_resources/salary_schedules).
Greensboro, NC (Guilford County Schools): “Salary Schedule Dashboard” (online: https://www.gcsnc.com/Page/81924).
Greenville, SC (Greenville County Schools): “Teacher Salary Schedule (TEACH)” (online: https://sites.google.com/greenvilleschools.us/employees/resources/payroll/salaries-and-pay-schedules.
Knoxville, TN (Knox County Schools): “Salary Schedules” (online: https://www.knoxschools.org/Page/16731).
Little Rock, AR (Little Rock School District): “Certified Pay Scales, Teacher Pay Scale” (online: https://www.lrsd.org/documents/departments/human-resources/salary-and-benefits/pay-scales/certified-pay-scales/497752).
Mobile, AL (Mobile County Public Schools): “Compensation and Pay Plan” (online: https://www.mcpss.com/salaryschedule).
Oklahoma City, OK (Oklahoma City Public Schools):  “Collective Bargaining Agreement, Teachers” (online: https://www.okcps.org/Page/7307).