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European Commission - Press release

Teachers' starting salaries not attractive, says report

Brussels, 4 October 2011 – In almost all European countries, gross basic salaries for teachers entering the profession are lower than national GDP per capita - and their pay will not even double over the course of their working lifetime, except in a handful of Member States. These are the main findings of a report which compares the salaries of public-sector teachers and school heads in 27 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey. The data, based on the 2009/10 school year, covers pre-primary to upper secondary education. Where figures are available, and taking both salary levels and allowances into account, the best paid teachers in the European Union are in Luxembourg, Denmark and Austria. The least well-paid are in Bulgaria and Romania. Six million teachers are currently employed in the Member States. The report, compiled by the Commission's Eurydice network, is published to coincide with World Teachers' Day (5 October).

Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "I sincerely admire our teachers, who make a vital contribution to children's lives and our society. They mould our future talent and are at the heart of the Commission's efforts to help Member States improve the quality of their education and training systems. We need to encourage the very best graduates to join and stay in the teaching profession. Salaries and working conditions are a priority if we are to attract and keep the best teachers."

The report shows that at the beginning of their careers, teachers' gross basic salaries are lower than national GDP per capita in all countries with the exception of Germany, Spain and Portugal. Only in three countries (Cyprus, Portugal and Romania) is is possible for teachers to double their basic salaries in the course of their career. However, even in these countries, it takes more than 20 years to progress to the top salary scale.

A wide range of allowances are available in most European countries, in addition to basic salaries, but only half of the countries award specific allowances for further professional qualification and excellence in teaching.

Actual teacher salaries, including add-ons, are close to the top of the pay scale in many countries. This is due to an ageing teacher population and the allowances that teachers may receive. In Denmark (€ 61 804), Greece (€ 22 817), Finland (€ 44 775) and England (€ 35 580), teachers' take-home pay is on average higher than the top pay scale due to these allowances.

In general, teachers in Europe maintained their purchasing power in 2009 and the economic crisis had an impact on their salaries in only a few countries in 2010 (Ireland, Greece, Spain, Latvia and Romania). During the same period, the Netherlands and Poland increased teachers' salaries. More recent and forthcoming austerity measures in many countries may affect teachers' salaries and overall spending on education. Nevertheless, many European governments are placing the education sector at the core of their reform programmes.


The report is produced by the European Commission's Eurydice Network, which provides information on and analyses of European education systems and policies. As of 2011, it consists of 37 national units based in all 33 countries participating in the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme (EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey). It is co-ordinated and managed by the EU Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency in Brussels, which drafts its studies and provides a range of online resources.

For more information:

The full report [in English] is available:

Teachers and School Heads Salaries and Allowances in Europe, 2009/10.

European Commission: Education and training

Annex Facts and Figures

Figure 1: Minimum and maximum annual statutory gross salaries of full-time fully qualified teachers in public schools and actual annual gross salaries, in € (2009/10)

Source: Eurydice

Figure 2: Salary allowances and complementary payments for teachers in public schools and decision-making levels (2009/10)


Central or regional


Source: Eurydice

Figure 3: Evolution of the teachers' and school heads' statutory salaries in the public sector between 2008/09 and 2009/10

Source: Eurydice

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58)

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)

Arlette Delhaxhe Eurydice: (+32 2 2951140)

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