With beautiful beaches, landscapes, and tight-knit communities, Hawaii is known for being a place where your dreams of living a beautiful island life can come true . Do you live in Hawaii and are thinking about becoming a teacher? Or are you looking for a change in scenery from the states of the mainland? Here you can find the answers to your question: What are the pros and cons of teaching in Hawaii?
Hawaii has much to offer its residents. Wondrous natural landscapes and the welcoming spirit of Aloha, this island state offers the freedom of living a warm and sunny life while inspiring students in the classroom. If you’re adventurous and have a deep admiration for nature, then you might love teaching in Hawaii for the benefits of living in the one-of-a-kind state. However, teaching on the islands of Hawaii does have its setbacks, such as the cost of living compared to teacher salary and isolation from the mainland of the U.S.
Salaries of Teachers in Hawaii
The salary for a teacher in Hawaii is split up into 3 different classes.
- Class II: Teachers with a Bachelor’s
- Class III: Teachers with a Bachelor’s plus 30 graduate semester credit hours or a Master’s
- Class VII: Teachers with a PhD or EdD
Teachers who have completed a Bachelor’s degree along with a state approved teacher education program can earn up to $50,123 a year. Without completion of a state-approved program, you can earn $37,993 per year. If you qualify as Class III with a Bachelor’s plus 30 semester credit hours or a Master’s degree, you can earn $41,032 without a state-approved teacher program or $54,132 if you have completed a teacher education program. For Class VII, you may earn up to $64,545 with a PhD or EdD.
According to World Population Review, the national average for teacher salary is $64,524 and Hawaii is ranked 14th on the list with New York being the number one state for the highest teacher salary at approximately $85,000. With that in mind, Hawaii teachers make a decent salary compared to some of the other states that have much lower averages. For example, Mississippi and West Virginia are ranked as the lowest paying teacher salaries in the states with an average annual salary of $45,000 to $47,000.
If you are new to teaching or do not have a degree higher than a Bachelor’s then you can expect to be paid much less than someone with an advanced degree or many years of experience in the field. This is very common with many teaching positions in the U.S. and also other jobs in general.
Related: Can Teachers Make a Good Living?
What Are the Benefits and Bonuses for Teachers in Hawaii?
If you are living on the mainland and thinking about relocating to Hawaii to teach, the Hawaii Department of Education does offer a one-time taxable relocation bonus of $2,000. This bonus is available for out-of-state individuals who have completed a state approved teacher program and contracted as a teacher, counselor, or librarian. This bonus could be applied to moving and relocation expenses, which can be pretty pricey depending on how many things you would like to bring with you in terms of household items and transportation.
Upon hire, teachers in Hawaii are entered into the Employee’s Retirement System which offers a hybrid retirement plan. This plan involves:
- Teachers contribute 8% to pension fund
- Employers contribute 15% to pension fund
- Teachers may retire at 65 with 10 years of service
- Teachers may retire at 60 with 30 years of service
The hybrid retirement plan that Hawaii offers is a pretty common plan that includes both the teacher and employer contributing to the retirement pension funds. Hawaii is ranked 21st out of the 50 states in retirement plan programs. Each state is graded on a scale for its programs with the highest grade being 88.4% in South Dakota and Illinois with the lowest at 34.9%. Hawaii is graded at 66.7% which is in the middle of the grade rankings between all states.
Related: Do Teachers Get Pensions?
The Cons of Salary Mixed With the Cost of Living
With a standard retirement plan and higher ranked salary average than most states, Hawaii may sound like it is more similar to other states than you may have thought. Although the average salary of teachers in Hawaii sounds pretty standard, you must consider the cost of living in Hawaii as well.
In 2021, Hawaii was ranked as the state with the highest cost of living with it being 96.3% higher than the United States average.
Residents of Hawaii need to have a salary around $61,000 in order to maintain a livable wage. Remember, for the 2021-22 school year, the salary for teachers without at least a PhD or EdD make less than $60,000. Keep in mind, if you have children the cost of their needs and schooling will make it more difficult to make ends meet since there is a significant imbalance between a lower-end teacher salary compared to the cost of living.
If you save up to make the move to Hawaii and are prepared for a pay cut as an experienced teacher, then the salary and expenses of living in Hawaii might not deter you from still making the move because although maintaining a livable wage is a very important aspect in life, there are some positives to moving to the islands.
The Pros for Teaching in Hawaii
If you live in an area that is filled with pot-hole covered roads or lacks ample public transportation then Hawaii might be a breath of fresh air for you. Hawaii’s infrastructure has great funding which means that you will be able to travel where you need to go without encountering any major road problems on a daily basis. Hawaii also has great public transportation systems which would be very beneficial if you aren’t able to provide your own means of transportation.
Looking for a safe place for you or your family to live? Hawaii is ranked relatively low in crime rates compared to other states. According to the 2021 annual crime rate report, Hawaii has a crime rate of 2.9 incidents which is lower than the national average rate of 3.7 per 1,000 people. Violent and property crime rate percentages in Hawaii have decreased in the past 2 years.
Hawaii is a great place for someone looking for culture and diversity. Hawaii has a rich and small community-like culture with deep roots in history and customs. If you consider yourself an open-minded individual that appreciates genuinity and has a deep respect for other cultures, Hawaii would be a great place to expose yourself to a new way of life. Building relationships with locals and incorporating their culture in your daily life is a great advantage to moving to such a hospitable place.
Filled with natural wonders, Hawaii is an optimal place to live for someone who loves to be outside in the great outdoors. With an abundance of beautiful beaches, lush forests, and other natural environments, the islands of Hawaii is a place like no other. For teachers, this could allow the opportunity for more interactive lessons with the environment and offer the chance to use the lands of the islands as examples on various educational topics.
Hawaii consists of 8 islands and the Hawaii State Department of Education is a large statewide school district. Divided into smaller districts, each island of Hawaii offers a different experience in teaching. As a teacher, you have several options to consider if you are unsure of which island you are looking to teach in. For example, if you want to be a part of a larger school district then you may want to teach on The Big Island of Hawaii or O’ahu. If you are looking for a smaller district with close-knit communities, you may consider teaching in Maui or Molokai.
Final Thoughts – Pros & Cons of Teaching in Hawaii
Whether you are perusing new places to relocate for teaching, live in Hawaii and want to be a teacher, or have your heart set on moving to a beautiful island in Hawaii, there are many things to take into consideration. The biggest con to teaching in Hawaii is the salary pay compared to the cost of living. If you are willing to sacrifice some of the finer things in life that you may have now for a more simple life so you can make ends meet or better, then the teacher salary in Hawaii doesn’t have to be a roadblock in your plans.
Cons of Teaching in Hawaii
- Teacher salary compared to cost of living
- Droughts, resulting in water usage restrictions
- Tropical climates with possibility of severe tropical storms and hurricanes
- Isolated from the mainland
Pros of Teaching in Hawaii
- Excellent infrastructure funding for roads and public facilities
- Lower crime rate than national average
- Exposure to unique Hawaiian culture
- Diverse recreational opportunities
- Beautiful beaches and landmarks to explore
- Opportunities for teachers to have more interactive lessons
If you are willing to make changes to fit the unique lifestyle that Hawaii has to offer and overcome the cost of living, then the pros of living in Hawaii could definitely outweigh the cons. Hawaii has some of the most beautiful beaches and forests in the entire world and if you love the outdoors then there are a plethora of opportunities to explore various scenery. Having an Aloha state of mind in Hawaii means being a part of a rich and hospitable culture that has so much to offer and teaching in Hawaii could offer the experience of a lifetime.