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School staff in numbers

In many communities in the United States, the local school district is the largest employer. While teachers and principals hold the most visible jobs in schools, many teaching, administrative and support roles are necessary to keep schools running.

So how many people work in schools, what types of work do they do and how much do they get paid? Education Week breaks it down for you.

How many people work in the schools?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that in May 2021, elementary and secondary schools employed more than 8 million people. That’s more than twice as many workers as those employed in colleges, universities and vocational schools and more than 400,000 more workers than those employed in all retail jobs in the United States or in construction. It is also more than three times the number of employees in the real estate and rental and leasing sector.. Elementary and secondary schools employ about two-thirds the number of workers in U.S. manufacturingNevertheless.

What types of work do people employed in schools do?

Of these 8 million, 66% work in education and the library, including 3.6 million teachers and more than one million teaching assistants. About 350,000 people (or about 4 percent of the school workforce) work in school management, nearly 500,000 (or 6 percent) work in administrative support, 330,000 (4 percent) work in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance, and 315,000 (almost 4 percent) work in food preparation and service. Other occupations in schools, including transport, health care and financial operations, employ 1.2 million people, more than 15% of all people working in schools.

How many teachers are there?

According to May 2021 estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3.6 million teachers work in kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high schools and with students in special education..

There were nearly 3% fewer teachers in all K-12 classrooms in May 2021 compared to May 2016, but teacher salaries increased by more than 13% during this period. In May 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that teachers earned an average annual salary of $67,680.

For a more detailed look at the profile of the American teaching force, including demographics, average age and years of experience, read this article on the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

What about teaching assistants?

Teaching assistants – often referred to as paraprofessionals or paraeducators – also make up a large part of the school workforce – there are just over a million of them employed in K-12 schools nationwide. However, they are paid much less than teachers, earning $32,170 on average per year.

The number of people employed as teaching assistants decreased slightly over the past five years. Salaries for these jobs have increased by 17%.

According to an EdWeek research center survey of paraprofessionals conducted in May, 70% said they would likely leave their jobs and the K-12 field in the next year said salary was a major reason..

How many people work in food preparation in schools?

Every school is full of kids who need lunch (and sometimes breakfast and snacks) so they can learn effectively. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there were nearly 150,000 cooks and food preparation workers. These workers are among the lowest paid school employees, earning on average just over $29,000 per year (an hourly wage of $14.07).

Despite the low wages, wages have improved. Cooks and food preparation workers have seen their salaries rise sharply, by 17% over the past five years, on average. During this period, however, the number of such workers employed in schools fell by almost 8%.

How many bus drivers are there?

There were 190,000 bus drivers in the United States in May 2021, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates. Bus drivers don’t make a lot of money, earning on average just over $36,000 a year ($17.36 an hour).

Which school jobs pay the best? Who pays the least?

K-12 administrators are typically the highest paid school workers, earning an average annual salary of $102,760, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates..

The average annual teacher salary is $67,680. On the lower side of salaries, teaching assistants are estimated to earn $32,170 per year.

Cooks and food preparation workers, food and beverage service attendants, and school bus monitors all earn less than $30,000 a year, on average.

Many school employees work part-time. For these jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated their average annual wages by multiplying their average hourly wages by 2,080 hours, which makes their annual wages the amount they would get if they were full-time employees the entire time. ‘year.

How have faculty and salaries changed over time?

The number of people working in schools has fallen by around 4% in recent years, from more than 8.4 million employees in May 2016. to just over 8 million in May 2021. The K-12 education sector has shrunk while the overall U.S. workforce has grown by about 3.5% since May 2016.

Overall, salaries for school workers increased by more than 15% during this period. This compares to a 17% increase in annual average wages for all workers.

How many job vacancies are there in schools and universities?

While teacher shortages have been reported in different regions and different teaching subjects for years, a huge number of vacancies across all education jobs have been reported in recent months. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data on the state and local government education sector (which includes public elementary and secondary school systems and post-secondary institutions), as of February 2022, there were 380,000 open jobs in schools and universities, the largest number of openings in the past. decade.

Since April 2021, only two months (August and September 2021) had less than 300,000 open jobs. This is compared to the period from 2012 to the end of 2019, when no month had more than 300,000 open jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies something as a job offer when it meets three conditions:

  1. A specific position exists and there is work available for this position.
  2. Labor could start within 30 days.
  3. There is active recruitment of workers.

The bureau counts job postings on the last business day of the month, rather than cumulatively throughout the month.

For more school data, see the Education Week Education Stats page.

Do you have other school staff statistics that you would like to see on this page?

Email with your suggestions or comments.

How to cite this article

Riser-Kositsky, M. (2021, June 15). School staff in figures. Education week. Retrieved Month Day, Year from

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