Top Areas for Hiring
In Alabama, job prospects for teachers are very strong. Indeed, in 2015-2016, the state reported critical shortages in nearly all areas of special education and several core subjects, including mathematics (grades 6-12), history (grades 6-12) and science (grades 6-12). State-based incentives to attract new teachers, including ATRIP (Alabama Teacher Recruitment Incentive Program), have been put in place to help respond to the crisis. In Alabama, reported annual salaries for teacher are generally slightly below living wage estimates for single-income families of four, but public school teachers with seniority, postsecondary-level educators and dual-income educator families generally meet or exceed living wage estimates for the state.
Job opportunities for teachers are available across Alabama. Alabama’s three largest school districts and employers of teachers are Mobile County School District, which employs 3,412 teachers, Jefferson County School District, which employs 2,209 teachers, and Montgomery County School District, which employs 1,767 teachers.
Alabama is home to nine cities with a population over 50,000 and collectively these areas employ the majority of teachers statewide. The following guide offers population, cost of living, living wage, salary, and hiring trend data for Alabama’s top destinations for educators.
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama and considered a major cultural and educational center. Close to 26,000 city residents work in education, training and library occupations and nearly half of these individuals are public elementary, middle school or high school educators. Birmingham’s primary employer for teachers is the Birmingham City Schools with over 3,100 employees serving over 25,000 students and their families. The district is home to 42 schools (18 elementary schools, 8 middle schools, 8 K-8 schools, 7 high schools and 1 alternative school). Jobs for public schools teachers in Birmingham can be found on the TeachInAlabama website. Notably, Birmingham is part of a much larger metropolitan area and therefore, educators who live in Birmingham also frequently work in nearby school systems, including the Jefferson County School System and Shelby County School System. Other teachers work in one of the city’s many independent schools. On the postsecondary side, Birmingham is also home to several colleges and universities, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Samford University, Birmingham School of Law, Miles College, and Jefferson State Community College. Whether one is working as an elementary school teacher or university professor, they can be assured that their annual salary will meet or far exceed the cost of living in Birmingham.
Montgomery is another large metropolitan area and home to many Alabama educators. In 2015, close to 10,000 local residents reported working in education, training and library occupations and the vast majority of these were teachers at either the elementary, secondary or postsecondary level. The major employer in Montgomery is Montgomery Public Schools, which has its own teacher recruitment site. Montgomery Public Schools is the third largest school system in the state with 51 schools and more than 31,000 students and 3,940 employees, including teachers, principals and other school personnel. In addition to Montgomery’s large public school system, there are 41 private schools in Montgomery serving nearly 10,000 students; a majority of private schools in the region are religiously affiliated. Montgomery is also home to several private postsecondary institutions, including Faulkner College, Huntingdon College, Virginia College and Amridge University. With a cost of living below reported annual wages for educators at all levels, Montgomery is a recommended destination.
Mobile is home to close to 200,000 residents and in 2015, close to 8,770 local residents were working in the education, training and library sector, primarily as educators. Mobile’s largest employer of educators is Mobile County Public Schools, which employs 7,290 employees in 90 schools. Job postings and listings for Mobile County Public Schools appear on the school board’s website, and it is worth noting that in Spring 2016, Mobile County Public Schools was offering signing bonuses for some positions (those cited as critical shortages, which includes positions in science and mathematics at the 6-12 grade levels). Mobile is also home to over fifty independent schools, nearly all religiously affiliated, and several postsecondary institutions. Major postsecondary institutions in Mobile include a public doctoral-level institution, the University of South Alabama, and three religiously affiliated private colleges and universities, including Spring Hill College and the University of Mobile. Notably, Mobile’s living wage estimates for a family of four are well below annual reported wages for educators.
Huntsville is home to 9,580 residents who work in the education, training and library professions and nearly half of these residents work as elementary, middle or high school teachers. The major employer of teachers in Huntsville is Huntsville City Schools, which is home to 64 pre-K programs, 21 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, 2 junior high schools, and 6 high schools, including 2 magnet schools. Teachers interested in working in Huntsville well-established public school system can find current openings on their career opportunities website. In addition to the city’s public school system, Huntsville is home to over 20 independent schools and several postsecondary institutions, including Alabama A&M University, Oakwood University and University of Alabama in Huntsville.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 7,000 Tuscaloosa residents work in the education, training and library sectors with most of these residents working as teachers at the elementary, middle school, high school or postsecondary level. Major employers of teachers in Tuscaloosa include the Tuscaloosa City School System and at the postsecondary level, the University of Alabama. The Tuscaloosa City School System employs 866 certified educators alongside 64 National Board Certified and Teach for America teachers and over 400 support staff in 24 schools. Applicants interested in joining the Tuscaloosa City School System can find openings and guidelines on how to apply on the system’s recruitment site. The University of Alabama, which is home to more than 36,000 students, is another major employer in Tuscaloosa. Jobs for professors are posted on the university’s faculty recruitment site. In Tuscaloosa, at the postsecondary level, most educators’ reported annual salaries well above the living wage but new teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels might find themselves struggling to meet living wage estimates for the city.
Hoover, while considered a separate metropolitan area, is often connected to Birmingham (e.g., Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data reflects statistics for Birmingham-Hoover combined). The major employer of educators in Hoover is the Hoover City Schools, which brook off from the Jefferson County School Board in the late 1980s and now is home to 17 elementary, middle and high schools. Job candidates interested in teaching for Hoover City Schools can find available positions through the TeachInAlabama website. Faulkner University and Jefferson State Community College both have satellite campuses in Hoover. While Bureau of Labor Statistics data is unavailable for Hoover alone, generally, the living wage and average pay reflect reported figures for Birmingham.
Located in the southeast corner of the state, Dothan is home to just under 70,000 residents and approximately 3,500 of those residents work in the education, training and library sectors. Dothan is served by two local public school boards: Dothan City Schools and Houston County Schools. Dothan City Schools oversees 19 schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Teachers hoping to work in the system can find openings posted on the TeachInAlabama website. Houston County School Board oversees 9 schools across levels and employs over 700 certified teachers and support staff; available positions with the board can be found on their website’s recruitment page. Applicants interested in teaching in a Houston Country School Board school can should apply via the TeachInAlabama website. Teaching positions are also available at Dothan’s private schools, which are primarily religiously affiliated, and at the postsecondary level, educators can find work at Dothan’s local community colleges, which include Fortis College and Wallace Community College.
Just under 5,000 of Auburn’s local residents work in education, training and library professors with most working for one of two employers: Auburn City Schools or Auburn University. Auburn City Schools serves over 8000 students in 11 schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Available positions and online applications for Auburn City Schools can be found online at TeachInAlabama. Auburn is also home to several independent schools (both religiously affiliated and secular). Auburn University, with over 27,000 students, is another major employer for educators in Auburn and the surrounding area. Auburn University employs 1,209 faculty members. Faculty openings at Auburn University can be found on the university’s human resources site. At both the elementary, middle and high school levels, average reported annual salaries fall short of living wage estimates for the region; teachers with higher levels of education and more years of seniority alongside college and university faculty can expect to meet or exceed the region’s living wage.
Decatur City Schools is one of the largest employers in the City of Decatur, employing over 1,200 employees, including a high number of certified teaching staff. Decatur City Schools is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of 2 high schools, 3 middle schools, 12 elementary schools, and 3 alternative programs with a total student enrollment of 8,650 students. Job postings for Decatur City Schools can be found on the board’s recruitment site. There is only one postsecondary institution within the Decatur city limits: Calhoun Community College. While not a major hiring hub for educators due to its size, Decatur is home to many educators; average salaries are just under the living wage estimates for the region but teachers with many years of seniority and full-time college professors generally meet or exceed the local cost of living.