Checking your bank account on payday feels good. Whether it’s once a month, once every couple weeks, or when a project is finished, it just feels good to see a bump in your bank account. So when do teachers get paid?
It depends. There aren’t uniform or federal standards for the occupation. Teachers might get paid as often as every two weeks, or they might get paid only once a month. They might receive a paycheck year round or they might receive paychecks only 10 months a year. There is a lot of variability when it comes to pay schedules for teachers.
Do Teachers Get Paid Time Off Over Summer?
First things first, though. This question always seems to come up whenever anyone thinks about how much teachers make, when they’re paid, and what kinds of lifestyles teachers lead: do teachers get paid time off over summer?
No, teachers do not receive paid time off over summer. Some districts will pay teachers a ten-month salary over the span of twelve months so teachers may receive a paycheck over summer. But that doesn’t mean that they are paid for their time off: there’s simply a slight delay in payment for work already completed. A teacher might receive pay for ten months of work divided up over the span of twelve months. Sometimes this ensures that teachers continue to receive insurance; other times, it can be adjusted so that teachers can budget more easily. I myself once received pay for one semester spread over the span of eight months in order to receive health benefits over the summer. So it’s not unusual for teachers to receive paychecks over the summer, but, unless they’re working on a summer program or teaching through the summer, it’s not for the work they are doing over summer.
It’s worth pointing out that teachers do need to work a lot while school isn’t in session: they need to prepare lessons and materials for the upcoming year and possibly seek out additional training, which might provide a bump in their pay. This means that, even if school isn’t in session, teachers are still doing at least some work even if they aren’t receiving a paycheck for it.
The schedule at which teachers are paid varies considerably by state and district. If you’re applying for an open position as a teacher, you will need to inquire about the pay schedule in that particular district. The school will let you know when they pay teachers and if you have a choice to ask for your payment to be spread over the entire year. The point remains though: just because a teacher receives a paycheck every month does not mean that they received pay for that month in particular. It’s possible that they simply chose to have their pay spread out over twelve rather than ten months.
How Often Are Teachers Paid?
Kristen Schmitz of TeachersPensions.org has done some investigating into the topic, but she notes that it’s surprisingly challenging to discover pay schedules for teachers. She had to call payroll offices herself to establish numbers for the 20 largest public school districts. Here are the key takeaways:
- New York, Hawaii, Clark County in Nevada, and San Diego pay their teachers twice a month. She doesn’t specify, but one would assume typically on the 15th and the 28th, 30th, or 31st of each month.
- Los Angeles and Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia pay their teachers once a month for twelve months, but they don’t specify when.
- Chicago, Miami-Dade, Broward County in Florida, Hillsborough County in Florida, Wake County, and Montgomery County pay teachers biweekly on a 10 or 12 month schedule.
- Houston, Palm Beach County, and Dallas give their teachers 26 checks a year on a 12 month schedule.
- Fairfax County in Virginia pays their teachers once a month for 11 months a year
As you can see from even just this cursory survey of the most populous districts, there can be considerable variation in how frequently teachers are paid. Some are paid once a month, others twice a month, and others biweekly. Teachers receive pay spread over 10, 11, or 12 months in spite of typically only working 10 months. You’ll note that no districts pay teachers in a lump sum.
As for day of the week or month, that too varies considerably. Monthly payments are typically dispersed on the last business day of the month. Thursday or Friday are common paydays.
There’s similar variability with respect to how frequently teachers at colleges and universities are paid. Drawing on my own experience, I’ve received bi-monthly payments over a 10 month period, monthly payments over a 10 month period, and biweekly payments over a 4 month period (a one-semester contract), for example. Professors typically receive a salary and are not paid by the hour. Adjuncts might be paid by the course or sometimes by the number of students enrolled. However, university instructors of all kinds are typically paid on the same schedule, which varies according to the institution in ways comparable to those above.
If you’re teaching at the university level, it is usually possible to apply for extra funding to cover conference travel and some other research expenses. The schedule of payments here can vary dramatically as well. However, if your institution does compensate you for your travel, then make sure you save and submit your receipts by the deadline. Sometimes, you’ll have to file on the very day of your return. The funding deadlines can seem arbitrary so do your research in advance to make sure you’re covered.
The important thing to remember though is that teaching is a full time job even if teachers aren’t paid over the summer. It’s important to budget accordingly no matter how frequently your paycheck shows up. You’ll need to do some homework to figure out just when you’ll be paid.
Let’s take a look at some numbers to see how you might budget an average teaching salary.
Figuring Out Some Paychecks
According to 2015-2016 data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the average base salary for teachers was $55,100 before taxes. Let’s say a teacher is paid monthly over the span of ten months. That means each paycheck, typically arriving at the end of the month, will be $5,510. On the other hand, teachers receiving a monthly paycheck over twelve months will receive $4,591.67 per month. Paid on a bimonthly basis over twelve months that would be $2,295.83. Split up into 26 biweekly payments it would be $2,119.23
The numbers work out differently, however, if you teach in New York, where the average teacher salary is $81,902 or Mississippi, where the average salary is $42,925 according to the 2017 annual data released by the National Education Association (courtesy of Education Week). As you can see, the salary itself, as well as the schedule of payments, can vary dramatically.
Obviously the size and frequency of the paycheck is going to play a significant role in how one should think about spending. If you’re only paid once a month for ten months, you’ll want to set aside a significant chunk to ensure that you can make ends meet month to month over the summer, whereas if you’re paid biweekly year round then you don’t need to save as much from each paycheck.
As long as you figure out your expenses and budget accordingly, it shouldn’t matter too much when you get paid. A number of districts give teachers an option to be paid over ten or twelve months. In that case, do what makes the most sense for your budget.
Other Financial Considerations
There are, however, other financial considerations to consider. 93% of teachers buy their students supplies out of their own pocket books (Education Week). Teachers are generally ineligible for overtime. Those “summers off” might include additional teaching certifications, which your school may or may not cover. Teachers are paid less than other professionals with similar degrees.
You might want to do some research on which states offer the best ratio of compensation vs. cost of living. Many school districts have specified schedules that increase the pay of teachers for each year of experience. Additional education can pay off, as masters and PhD-holders can expect larger paychecks than those without such credentials.
If you’re aiming to become a professor, you’ll need a PhD, which can take 4-8 years. While many PhD programs are paid, some are not. Some offer a stipend, though its size can vary considerably by institution. It is important to note also that you won’t be saving much during this period. Some schools, however, might offer financial aid for teachers earning their masters or PhDs.
If you’re applying for a job, and worried about when you’ll be paid, it’s important to do your homework. You can ask the school to provide you with that information. You may even have some say in the matter.
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