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Veteran Teachers Are Tired of Still Being Broke

It's realistic to expect that, as professionals starting a career, we might not be paid very well at first. Expectations of bringing home the big bucks as soon as college ends are usually frustrated. But, it's also reasonable to assume that our salaries will rise as we gain experience and prove our commitment to our work and the institutions we work for. However, that might not be the case for teachers. Let's take a look at some facts about teachers' pay.

It’s realistic to expect that, as professionals starting a career, we might not be paid very well at first. Expectations of bringing home the big bucks as soon as college ends are usually frustrated. But, it’s also reasonable to assume that our salaries will rise as we gain experience and prove our commitment to our work and the institutions we work for. However, that might not be the case for teachers. Let’s take a look at some facts about teachers’ pay.

empty pockets

(Photo Credit: danielmoyle/Flickr)

1. Teachers earn less than other professionals.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Various analyses show that teachers earn significant less than comparable professionals. This wage disadvantage has grown considerably over the last 10 years.

The Economic Policy Institute compared teachers’ wages with other workers with similar education and experience. Since 1993, female teachers’ salaries have fallen behind 13 percent and male teachers’ wages lag behind at a rate of 12.5 percent. The statistics are even worse when you go further back. Since 1979, female teachers’ wages have dropped 18.5 percent, for example.

2. Compared with other college grads, teachers pay is very low.

When wage statistics are derived through comparing teachers’ pay to other college grads, not just those in comparable fields, the figures are startling. Throughout the country, the average earnings of workers with at least a four-year college degree are more than 50 percent higher than teachers’ average earnings.

3. Teachers do not work fewer hours than other professionals.

The teacher wage gap can’t be pinned on a lack of work hours logged. A survey conducted of over 20,000 public school teachers found that teachers work an average of 10 hours and 40 a minutes a day, which translates to 53 hours per week.

Also, summer vacation doesn’t provide the break many imagine. Most teachers work hard at their jobs (or a second one) right on through the summer.

4. For mid- and late-career teachers, the pay isn’t much more.

Compared with other professions, teachers’ salaries don’t rise as much after years on the job. Even after a decade or more in the field, many teachers take on second and even third jobs to make ends meet. This is more true in some states than others. But, in 11 states, more than 20 percent of teachers take on second jobs, and in some places, the figure is as high as 25 percent. Teachers, even those who’ve been at it for years, aren’t able to rise to the middle-class lifestyle their education and commitment should afford them. It’s frustrating to a lot of veteran teachers, and some are sadly moving on to other fields that offer better pay.

“I was about to be a seventh-year teacher, and I would be paid the same as I was as a second-year teacher,” said Richie Brown, a former North Carolina educator, in an interview with The Center for American Progress. “I will definitely miss being able to teach those kids. But one thing I’m looking forward to is being compensated fairly….”

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think veteran teachers should be compensated more equitably? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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