Blog: State Pension Plans

Roughly 90 percent of all teachers are enrolled in a pension fund. However, each fund has its own rules and set of conditions that determine the overall value of a retired teacher's annual benefit. Interested in data on the average teacher pension in your state?  See the chart below for the latest data, updating an earlier post!  

The first column shows the “average pension” for newly retired teachers from the past ten years in each state. In the majority of states that don’t list the average benefit for newly retired members outright, these data are retrieved from states’ observations about retirees and beneficiaries added to the retirement plan’s rolls and about new benefit payments added to the rolls. These data are based on 2016 figures unless otherwise noted. Keep in mind that this method is not completely precise– these numbers also include beneficiaries added to the rolls because their spouses passed away, as well as potential increases in benefit payments due to inflation adjustments.

The next column shows, among all newly retired teachers, what the median retiree earns. The third column shows the average pension for all current retirees and beneficiaries. Finally, the last column show the estimated percentage of new teachers who will actually receive a pension. The data come from each state's annual comprehensive financial report.  

In Maryland, for example, the “average pension” for new teachers is $24,409. But the median pension for new retirees is just $16,404, meaning half of all new retirees earn less than that amount. Moreover, 57 percent of new Maryland teachers are expected to leave the system before qualifying for a pension.







Average Teacher Pension by State


Average Benefit for New Retirees

Median Benefit for New Retirees

Percentage of New Teachers Who QUALIFY FOR a Pension





Alaska (DB plan)

Teacher pension plans are inarguably complicated, so it's really no surprise that the most high traffic pieces published in 2018 were ones that shed light on a complex issue. Check them out below, plus one extra post highlighting our most asked question of all time.
Education reporters can find information about school budgets, educator salaries, and turnover rates in publicly available reports from teacher pension plans.
Most public school teachers are enrolled in a pension plan, but that doesn't mean they'll ever actually receive a pension, or that it will be a good one.
There’s a common misconception that teachers’ retirement plans are gold-plated, extremely generous options. And for a very small pool, they do provide a secure retirement. But that’s not the case for the majority of teachers. To illustrate this, we dug into a sampling of states to see how they measure up, and ran the numbers to see if an alternative plan design might serve more of their workforce.
Teacher pension funds are complicated and can be difficult to understand. In fact, Arizona's teacher pension plan is particularly complicated. This post explains how the system works and explains how it affects teachers' retirement.
To what extent do different rates of educational attainment among men and women contribute to the gender-based salary gap? Based on our analysis, the higher rate of educational attainment for women is insufficient to overcome other barriers to higher salaries.
One of the most common teacher salary questions is whether or not teachers get paid over the summer months. So, do they? It depends. Teacher payroll schedules vary district-to-district: some allow workers to spread their 10-month salary over 12 months, while others don’t give any paycheck during the summer months, requiring teachers to budget, or in some cases, get a second job.
Teacher pensions are complicated. Here is how teacher pensions are calculated.
While traditional, back-loaded pension plans fall short of providing adequate retirement benefits to all members, there are better options. And, contrary to a public debate that often pits pensions against 401ks, there are other alternatives that would better balance the needs of employers and employees.