Seeking higher education in the form of a master’s degree may qualify a teacher to earn a higher teacher salary. Determining how much teachers make when they earn a graduate degree may help a current teacher decide whether to continue his or her education. While it’s not possible to pin down an exact number for how much a teacher might make with a master’s degree, it is possible to find the average increase a teacher might expect when earning an advanced college degree.

Salary Rates Change Based on Education

Salaries for teachers across the country vary greatly, but many school districts offer higher salaries to candidates who have earned a graduate degree over those who have earned a bachelor’s degree. For example, the North Carolina Public Schools system pays new teachers who have a bachelor’s degree $3,500 a month which translates to an annual salary of $35,000 based on a 10-month schedule. A new teacher with a graduate degree will receive $3,850 a month which equals an annual salary of $38,500.

The additional income a teacher may expect will also vary based on his or her location, and the impact of the additional salary will also be determined by the cost of living in a particular area. Future teachers who aren’t tied to a particular geographical area may wish to explore the average salaries for school districts around the country before settling on a particular state for education and eventual certification.

Determining the Financial Cost and Gain From a Graduate Degree

Earning a graduate degree will virtually always translate to a higher monthly salary, but it’s important to estimate the additional earnings one might receive over the course of a teaching career versus the cost in tuition for a graduate degree. For example, in the case of a teacher in the Alhambra Elementary School District in Phoenix, Arizona, the teacher salary schedule indicates a teacher with a bachelor’s degree would earn a maximum salary of $51,032, and a teacher with a graduate degree would earn a maximum salary of $62,273.

Over the course of 20 years teaching at the highest salary designation, that difference would represent $224,820 in additional earnings. As long as a teacher found a graduate program costing less than $224K, advancing his or her career would make sense. Choosing a graduate degree in math or science could create even more potential for higher earnings as many school districts lack math and science teachers and pay extra for those trained in vital areas.

Read more: Top 50 Affordable Online Graduate Education Programs

A Graduate Degree May Add Thousands To Income

According to research published by the Teacher resource website, a teacher’s salary will increase by an average of $7,000 a year if he or she earns a graduate degree, but this number represents the average for the entire country. Earning a doctorate may add $7,000 to a teacher’s income, but most teachers who have earned a doctorate have moved on from teaching into administration or leadership positions.

There is a virtual certainty that a teacher with a graduate degree will earn more than a teacher with a bachelor’s degree when the teachers possess the same level of experience and are employed within the same school district. Gaining experience is one way to earn higher income as a teacher, but earning a graduate degree may ensure a higher teacher salary immediately after graduation rather than several years into one’s career.