If you have a friend in the teaching industry, you’ve likely heard them mention how they are a “broke teacher.” Now, I don’t think that any person saying this actually means that they are legitimately broke… they probably just feel like it. The reason for this is because a teaching salary is typically far lower than the salaries of people in other industries, especially if they are newer in their career. While it’s normal for different industries to receive various compensation rates, you might be thinking, “well… how much do teachers REALLY make?” In this article, we will definitely get to that, but first let’s talk about how often teachers get paid. Do teachers get paid weekly? Bi-weekly? Once a month?
The short answer is that the pay structure for teachers varies depending on the state and district that they are working in. The interesting thing is that this pay structure for teachers isn’t disclosed as much as you might imagine. Instead, it’s disclosed to teachers after they receive the job offer and accept it.
After some digging around and talking with a few teacher friends, the consensus is that most teachers get paid once a month. In most areas, they can choose if they want their salary to spread out over a 12-month period or receive their salary within the 10 months they are actively teaching.
So, How Much Do Teachers Get Paid?
As previously mentioned, it’s no secret that teachers start out with a significantly lower salary than other industries. According to Niche.com, the average starting teacher salary in the United States is $38,617.
To put this in perspective, here is a round up of some starting salaries for teachers, according to Niche.com.
- Registered Nurses: $73,300 (according to Drexel University)
- Marketing: $44,918 (according to Indeed)
- Journalist: $42,107 (according to PayScale)
- Recruiter: $47,140 (according to Indeed)
- Engineer: $58-68,000 depending on the type (according to Michigan Tech)
It’s clear that teachers probably didn’t choose this career path for the money. Instead, they were likely drawn to the field for the opportunity to impact a student’s life through their teaching.
It’s also worth noting that a teacher’s salary can range based on the grade level that they decide to teach and the size of the district they are teaching in.
Do Teachers Receive Raises?
There’s a chance you’ve noticed that many teachers have multiple degrees. This isn’t necessarily because it’s required. In fact, there’s only a handful of states within the United States that require more than a Bachelor’s degree, three of those being: Connecticut, Maryland and New York. The reason that many teachers return to school for more beyond their required degree is so they can qualify for a raise.
When a teacher goes back to school to obtain their Master’s degree, they can expect, on average, $5,285 more annually than without the additional degree. According to Educationdegree.com, “this means that over the course of a teacher’s career, a master’s educator will make an average of nearly $160,000 more than a Bachelor’s educator.”
Some people can’t fathom the fact that you have to spend more money on schooling in order to receive a raise in your teaching career, especially when the amount spent compared to the amount you end up receiving as your salary doesn’t always shake out to make much sense. While there are both sides to this argument, it really comes down to your location. If you’re teaching in an area that pays teachers well, the extra schooling may be worth it in the long run. At the end of the day, this is up to the teacher to weigh out and decide.
Beyond a Masters degree, teachers can also return to school to receive their Doctorate degree. There are two types of Doctorates available to teachers: Doctorate in Education degree (EdD) or the Doctor of Philosophy in Education Degree (PhD).
A Doctorate degree in the education field is pursued less than a Masters degree due to the intensity and rigor required of most Doctorate programs. If a teacher does return to school to obtain a Doctorate degree, it’s likely for a bigger reason than simply earning a raise, but that’s an added bonus with up to $15,000 more earnings per year.
Most teachers seeking a Doctorate degree have the vision to go beyond the classroom and land in an administrative position at some point in their career. Although a Doctorate isn’t always required for this, it can make teachers stand out from the crowd when they have it.
In addition to more schooling, teachers can expect a small raise in their pay for each additional year of experience. This is commonly referred to as a “step and lane” salary schedule. “Steps” denote the teachers years of experience, while “lanes” denote their level of education credits and degrees.
What States Pay Teachers the Highest?
Like most industries, you can expect to make more money in your teaching career depending on where you’re located in the world. For this article specifically, we’re focusing on the United States.
The World Population Review reveals the following as the top 5 highest paying states for teachers. Take note that the salaries listed are based on the average for 2022:
- New York: $85,889
- California: $83,059
- Massachusetts: $82, 042
- Connecticut: $76,465
- New Jersey: $74,760
Aside from California, these top 5 states are all located in the Northeastern part of the United States. This is likely due to the fact that these areas pay more in Federal taxes than they receive in Federal spending.
Do Teachers Get Paid in the Summer?
From the outside looking in, one of the coolest parts of a teaching job is that they have summers off. While many teachers would probably fight you on that, it is true that they are not in the classroom teaching to students during the summer months. Because of this, many people wonder if teachers get paid in the summer.
Most districts offer teachers the option to either receive their annual salary over the 10 months of the school year OR spread their paychecks out over a full year.
If they choose to have their paycheck spread out over a full year, then yes, teachers would get paid in the summer.
Do Teachers Receive Benefits?
Like most careers, there are many benefits that come with being a teacher. Before we get into the technical benefits, let’s first acknowledge the fact that a huge benefit to teaching is knowing that you’re making an impact in someone’s life.
Research shows that students spend about 13.36 of their waking hours in school by the age of 18, so it is clear that teachers play a massive role in their learning and development over the years and through many transitions of life.
That is an enormous benefit that not everyone can say they have. In addition to the positive impact they get to make daily, teachers receive the typical benefits of many government jobs including:
- Pension Plans
- 401(k) Retirement Plans
- Social Security
- Health Insurance
- Personal Leave and Sick Days
According to Western Governors University, “most teacher retirement programs or pensions include a small contribution each pay period by the teacher, and a matching or greater contribution by the employer.”
Although teachers do receive the typical benefits that msot industries also see, the one thing that does differ for teachers are vacation days and paid time off. While teachers do receive a set number of personal leave and sick days, because of their unique work schedule that includes summers off, teachers generally do not receive vacation days.
Additionally, because teachers work under a contract that specifies the number of days they work during the school year, they also do not typically receive holiday pay. Most teacher contracts specify 10 months of work, which turns to 180-190 days.
Thank a Teacher
Throughout this article, you’ve learned how teachers get paid, how much they get paid and how they can make more money. Hopefully you can see that the teaching industry isn’t necessarily about the money. As mentioned earlier, most teachers are in it because they love to help their students learn and grow through the many different seasons of life that kids experience during grades K-12.
While the numbers are on the rise when it comes to the amount of teachers that are leaving the profession, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, there are definitely still those who are driven by the students they get to pour into year after year. Despite the low pay and high demands, many teachers choose to stay in the profession for the same reason they entered it – to make a difference in a student’s life.
Overall, teachers play a massive role in a child’s learning, development and ultimate success, while handling many different responsibilities on a day to day basis. It can be a high-stress job that looks different each day, so if you know a teacher, give them an extra thanks the next time you see them with this information in mind.